Childhood Obesity and How to Prevent It with Diets


According to World Health Organization (WHO), childhood obesity is a severe global public health dilemma. Currently, many children and adolescents suffer from childhood obesity. It predisposes them to the danger of contracting numerous diseases like heart-related illnesses (Biro, & Wien, 2010). Mostly, medical professionals use the term overweight to refer to obesity because it is less disgracing. Numerous factors contribute to the rising in the number of children suffering from obesity. They include poor feeding habits and lack of physical exercise among others. Encouraging children to engage in physical activity and to avoid junk foods can go a long way towards combating childhood obesity. This report will discuss the factors that contribute to childhood obesity and give recommendations on how to prevent the health condition.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity comes as a result of numerous factors. Biro and Wien (2010) posit, “The greatest risk factor for childhood obesity is the stoutness of both parents” (p. 1502). In other words, genetics and the family’s environment contribute to a child becoming obese. Other factors include the increased use of technology, eating habits, and lack of physical exercise. Childhood obesity is prevalent among kids from low-income families, Hispanic, and African American communities. Children from these families do not have time to engage in physical exercise.

Family Practices

One of the factors that contribute to raising the rate of childhood obesity is family practices. Over the past few years, families have significantly abandoned practices that prevented children from contracting weight-related diseases. For instance, many mothers have left the culture of breastfeeding. Today, most parents raise their kids on infant formula rather than breast (Gonzalez-Suarez, Worley, Grimmer-Somers, & Dones, 2009). They deprive the children of the opportunity to benefit from the nutrients found in the mother’s milk. Research shows that less than 13% of mothers breastfeed their children for six months after birth in the United States (Gonzalez-Suarez et al., 2009). Most families discourage their children from going out and engaging in physical activities. The rise in the use of technology has led to most children spending a lot of hours indoors. Hispanic and African American families discourage their kids from going out because they fear that they might be recruited into criminal gangs. In the past, children used to cycle or walk to the bus stop. Nowadays, most households own cars. Therefore, they drive their kids to school. Consequently, the kids do not have time to engage in physical activity.

Social Policies

Different countries and communities have embraced various social policies and practices that contribute to the rising of childhood obesity. For instance, schools no longer encourage children to participate in physical activities. Despite most schools having sports lessons, the teachers do not take them seriously (Scaglioni, Arrizza, Vecchi, & Tedeschi, 2011). There has been an increase in the number of fast-food joints and vending machines. Children can quickly purchase junk foods or soft drinks that constitute high levels of calories. It contributes to the children gaining weight and eventually becoming obese. According to Scaglioni et al. (2011), children no longer have access to parks, sidewalks, and bike paths. The society does not consider these essential facilities when constructing residential buildings. As a result, children cannot engage in outdoor activities when at home.


Advertising of junk foods is another factor that has led to the rise of childhood obesity. In the United States, most states do not discourage the advertising of unhealthy foods. Children have access to information regarding cereals, fast-food joints, and candy. The advertisements do not warn children about the health risks of such foods. Thus, it is hard for children to make healthy food preferences. The kids end up buying the junk foods and candies that are rich in calories, therefore subjecting them to the danger of becoming obese.

Factors that Influence Child’s Eating Behavior

Research shows that parents have a significant influence on child eating behaviors. Savage, Fisher, and Birch (2008) maintain, “There is substantial evidence of bidirectional interactions between parenting and diet and weight status of children” (p. 28). Parenting practice and style influence the feeding habits that children adopt. Some parents pressure their kids to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. They make sure that kids do not access fatty snacks and sweets. Savage et al. (2008) claim that control over what children eat has negative impacts on their eating behaviors. Parents who use restrictive measures lead to children developing disinhibited eating behaviors. For instance, mothers who restrict their girls from eating certain foods lead to them developing overeating habits. According to Savage et al. (2008), the familiarity of food influences a child’s diet. Most children and adults avoid eating foods that are not common. Savage et al. (2008) argue, “Familiar tastes provide an indication of the likely safety of the food being presented” (p. 31). Kids prefer to eat what they are familiar with, or the like. Hence, kids’ experience with foods affects their eating habits.

Role of Soft Drinks and Sugary Snacks on Weight Status

Currently, there is no clear evidence of the role of soft drinks and sugary snacks on weight status. Nonetheless, research shows that soft drinks and sugary snacks have a contributory function on weight status. Studies claim that there is “limited compensation for the energy intake from beverages and sweet snacks through reduced energy ingestion from other dietary resources” (Malik, Schulze, & Hu, 2009, p. 279). In other words, consumption of soft drinks and sugary snacks contributes to increased energy intake. Malik et al. (2009) maintain that soft drinks and sugary snacks have little satiating properties. Therefore, it becomes hard for the body to balance energy intake.

Balancing Height and Weight

According to Silventoinen, Rokholm, Kaprio, and Sorensen (2010), numerous factors contribute to increases in body weight. They include the rise in fat content. For children to maintain the appropriate body weight, they need to have adequate knowledge of these factors. Striking a balance between weight and height can go a long way towards the children avoiding the risk of suffering from obesity. Maintaining the correct level of fat in the body helps to achieve a balance between weight and height. Silventoinen et al. (2010) argue that it is imperative to measure the body mass index (BMI) of children to ensure that their weights match with heights. After determining the BMI of the child, it is imperative to strike a balance between the amount of energy intake and outtake. Parents should encourage children to be physically active to maintain the right balance between height and weight.


Childhood obesity is a severe challenge across the globe. Changes in family and social practices contribute to rising in the number of obese children. Parents and familiarity with foods influence a child are eating habits. Consumption of sugary snacks and soft drinks increases body weight. Soft drinks have limited satiating features. Parents should determine the BMI of their kids to help them to strike a balance between height and weight.


Biro, F., & Wien, M. (2010). Childhood obesity and adult morbidities. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(5), 1499-1515.

Gonzalez-Suarez, C., Worley, A., Grimmer-Somers, K., & Dones, V. (2009). School-based interventions on childhood obesity: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(5), 418-427.

Malik, V., Schulze, M., & Hu, F. (2009). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: A systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 84(2), 274-288.

Savage, J., Fisher, J., & Birch, L. (2008). Parental influence on eating behavior. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 35(1), 22-34.

Scaglioni, S., Arrizza, C., Vecchi, F., & Tedeschi, S. (2011). Determinants of children’s eating behavior. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(6), 2006-2011.

Silventoinen, K., Rokholm, B., Kaprio, J., & Sorensen, T. (2010). The genetic and environmental influences on childhood obesity: A systematic review of twin and adoption studies. International Journal of Obesity, 34(1), 29-40.

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