Obesity in Children
One out of every five children in the U. S. is overweight, and this
number is continuing to grow. Children have fewer
weight-related health and medical problems than adults,
however, overweight children are at high risk of
becoming overweight adolescents and adults, placing them
at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart
disease and diabetes later in life.
What Causes Obesity in Children?
Children become overweight for a variety of reasons.
The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of
physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a
combination of these factors. Only in rare cases is
being overweight caused by a medical condition such as a
hormonal problem. A physical exam and some blood tests
can rule out the possibility of a medical condition.
Although weight problems run in families, not all
children with a family history of obesity will be
overweight. Children whose parents or brothers or
sisters are overweight may be at an increased risk of
becoming overweight themselves, but this can be link to
shared family behaviors such as eating and activity
A child's total diet and activity level play an
important role in determining a child's weight. Today,
many children spend a lot time being inactive. For
example, the average child spends approximately 24 hours
each week watching television. As computers and video
games become increasingly popular, the number of hours
of inactivity may only increase.