Obesity in children and adolescents is a serious issue, with many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood. An attempt is made here to study the nature and causes of obesity in children. Initial focus is on the origins of obesity; how family eating patterns, environmental and lifestyle, genetic inheritance, are crucial factors. Lifestyle and eating habits play an important part in childhood obesity. The long-term effects of this social scourge are discussed, and possible solutions for prevention explored.
Firstly, it is important to gain an understanding of what obesity is. According to Wlardlow (2000), obesity is defined as a condition characterized by excess body fat. It is also defined as the condition of a person being 20 percent above average weight. Generally speaking, consumption of foods high in sugar and fats lead to obesity. Alcohol intake can also contribute to the condition, due to its high sugar content. Obesity is a serious medical disease that affects 20-25 percent of children and adolescents in Australia. It is the second leading cause of preventable death after smoking (Fitzgerald, 2000). According to research, everyone has and needs fat tissue in their bodies. When there is too much body fat, the result is obesity (World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1996). Obesity can be measured by calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a mathematical calculation used to identify overweight and obesity in adults, children and adolescents.
There are many factors that contribute to obesity, including lack of adequate physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle, eating habits, environment, family habits and genetic inheritance (Vatta, 2000). The environment in which a child lives has a great effect on how healthy the child will be. A healthy environment that promotes a healthy diet is one that encourages consumption of nutritious foods in reasonable amounts, and regular physical activity. However, according to a recent survey, many...
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