Social Determinants of Childhood Obesity

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Childhood obesity fast becoming a worldwide epidemic, and according to the Bureau of Statistics (cited in Browne 2012, p.20), 23 per cent of children are overweight or obese in Australia. Browne (2012, p.20) suggests that by children being weighed regularly by their doctor, just as they were when they were babies and toddlers, it will help doctors and parents to closely monitor their weight. Although obesity is caused by an imbalance of the calories consumed with the output of energy through metabolism and exercise (O’Gorman et al., 2011; Wang, 2008), the reason/s for this imbalance can arise from several of the 10 social determinants (the social gradient, stress, early life, social exclusion, work, unemployment, social support, addiction, food, and transport), discussed by Wilkinson and Marmot (2003) at any one time. The 2 Social determinants that are most obviously related to childhood obesity are early life and the social gradient. Several insightful studies have strongly proven that childhood obesity contributors can take effect as early in life as prenatal (Dolinsky et al., 2011; Gorog et al., 2009; Spruijt-Metz, 2011; Wang, 2008), these factors are excess gestational weight gain by the mother, gestational diabetes (Dolinsky et al., 2011), and maternal smoking (Dolinsky et al., 2011; Gorog et al., 2009), and, according to Dietz (cited in Dolinsky et al., 2011, p. 32) the physiological changes during this time period significantly influence a child’s risk for obesity in the future. In addition to this, there is very strong evidence to prove that breast-fed babies have a lower chance of becoming overweight or obese in the future compared to bottle-fed babies (Dolinksy et al., 2011; O’Gormon et al., 2011; Seach et al., 2010; Wang, 2008), of course there are different theories on why this occurs. Firstly, breast-fed babies can regulate their intake and know to stop when they feel full, bottle-fed babies are encouraged by their feeder to finish a certain amount...