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1. When speaking of her 8-year old daughter’s obesity, a prideful mother replies “Oh its no big deal, she just still has her baby fat. ” Unfortunately, chances are that the daughter’s obesity is really no cause of her baby fat, but can be contributed to a combination of diet, genetics, and a sedentary lifestyle. Studies show that obesity among children 6-17 years of age, has increased by 50% in the last 20 years, with the most dramatic increase seen in children ages 6-11 (Axmaker, 1). This obvious epidemic has raised great concern in the medical community because widespread childhood obesity has increased the prevalence of the once rare juvenile diabetes and pediatric hypertension (Bastin, 45).
This concern has prompted intense investigation of the causes of childhood studies, aside from socioeconomic status, three major causes have been shown: diet, genetics or biological factors, and lifestyle. Because fat must have a source from which to increase, diet is an obvious contributor to obesity in children. Dietary guidelines recommend that children between the ages of 6 and 11 should receive about 1800 calories a day, with 50% from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 20% from protein (Bastin, 47). With the ready availability of high calorie/high carbohydrate soft drinks, fruit juice, and high carbohydrate snacks, children’s diets have become increasingly less nutritious. Surveys conducted among children and teenagers have shown that 7 out of 10 children eat fruit once a day, and 5 out of 10 teenagers eat fruit once a day (Bastin, 47). Because children are replacing the missing fruit servings with high calorie snacks, weight gain will occur dramatically over time.
An over consumption of 50-100 calories can lead to a gain of 5-10 pounds a year (Oklahoma Cooperative, 1). Many parents mistakenly encourage carbohydrates with a high-glycemic value as substitutes for fat and protein. High-glycemic carbohydrates prevent fat breakdown and drive fat into fat deposits, causing fat to accumulate, which occurring in high levels is obesity. The era of home cooking has all but disappeared from our society, with meals being replaced with pizza, or fast food creating yet another innutritious aspect of children’s diets.
Carbohydrates also take far less time to empty from the stomach than do those foods high in fat or protein, causing hunger (Buffington, 14). A child having eaten a bowl of cereal for breakfast is likely to be hungry by mid-morning with the need for a snack. At school, he or she may satisfy their mid-morning hunger with yet another high carbohydrate food such as a soda, candy, cookies, or a bag of chips. These poor food choices are contributing to the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity. Everybody knows the child that can eat any type of food all day and never seem to gain weight. This occurrence has led researchers to investigate the role that genetics plays in childhood obesity.
Not all children who are inactive or who eat poorly are obese, much in the same way that some obese children eat fairly healthy, and exercise moderately. Heredity has recently been shown to influence body fat percentage, regional fat storage, and the body’s response to overeating (Rush, 1). Children who have obese parents are 80% more likely to be obese than their lean parented counterparts (Buffington, 16). This familial correlation is contributed to genetics as well as the parents eating habits. Children with obese parents typically aren’t taught the correct way to choose when and what food to .