Children are often unaware of the patterns or conditions that cause obesity, placing the responsibility on adults can help to lead them in the right direction.
In recent data from the NHS, almost one in seven children start primary school obese. More than a quarter of these children are obese by the time they finish primary school.
Obesity rates in both reception aged and year 6 schoolchildren increased by around 4.5 percentage points between 2019-20 and 2020-21. This is the highest annual rise since the National Child Measurement Programme began.
— NHS Digital (@NHSDigital) November 16, 2021
As a parent, it can be hard to know how best to help your children to stay healthy. But you can rest easy in the knowledge that there are 5 factors that contribute towards childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity is not a simple issue. It is becoming more and more common in the UK owing to lots of different reasons. From inherited genetics to environmental surroundings, many more children are struggling with excess weight and of course, there are lots of parents who are worried about how to deal with the situation. Firstly, it is essential to let the child know that as a parent, you will be emotionally supportive of them at any size. It is important to not single out an overweight child but focus instead on how the whole family can increase their physical activity and eating habits.
Genetics does play a part when it comes to childhood obesity. While there are lots of other things that do play a role, both genetics and the environment that someone lives in plays a determining factor when it comes to excess weight. Studies do show that genetics account for less than 5% of obesity cases. This information reaffirms that while genetics can influence weight gain, they are not the reason for the dramatic increase in childhood obesity.
2: Food Quality and Quantity
Sweet drinks and fast food play a large role in excessive weight gain in children. It can be so easy to serve up processed food for supper, but many of them are high in fat, sugar, and salt which all lead to weight gain when eaten in large proportions. Portion size has also increased over the last couple of decades. By cooking their own food and reducing portion sizes, parents can ensure their children enter adulthood with healthy habits.
3: Parental Perception
One of the biggest factors when it comes to childhood obesity is that 62% of parents with obese children, perceived their child’s weight as healthy. If a parent doesn’t believe their child’s weight needs to be addressed, they will be less likely to initiate healthier habits at home. For children that depend on their parents’ guidance for nutritional meals, continuing poor habits could have damaging effects on their mental and physical health.
4: Physical Activity
When it comes to kids and exercise, a lack of physical activity progresses childhood obesity because the body begins to store unused calories as fat. Children need to exercise for about 1 hour a day according to the NHS. Physical activity comes in the form of outside play-time or extracurricular sports. With more and more children socialising through video games and watching tv shows, fewer kids are reaching the 60 minutes of exercise. One study found a strong link between video game usage and weight status within children. Making sure your kids get outside and run around is one of the most important steps that a parent can do.
5: Environmental Setbacks
As more and more children are being driven to places by parents, there are fewer opportunities for children to be physically active outside. It is important that parents provide an active lifestyle for your children. Kids need to be active for 60 minutes a day to help keep them fit and healthy. While they may ride a bus or have a parent drive them to school, sometimes its good to try walking or riding a bike. Environmental resources play a significant role in how children grow up and the lifestyle to which they are exposed.