The Child Obesity Crisis

With one out of every four Canadian children considered overweight or obese, the problem of childhood obesity is a growing concern in our society.

Mom running with daughters

Poor eating habits and a sedentary life style are two important factors that can contribute to a child's weight. There's a predominance of fast food restaurants in our lives that help make meal times quick and easy, while junk food is readily available for a go-to snack. Kids are spending large amounts of their time on computers or in front of the TV screens while less of their time is spent getting the physical exercise they need. Is it any wonder that childhood obesity is a problem?

How big of a problem is it?

For the answer, we just need to look at the reports:

  • According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, obesity in children has almost tripled in the last quarter-century, with appoximately 26 per cent of Canadian children now considered overweight or obese.
  • An article on the Informa Healthcare website concludes that childhood obesity is an increasing global concern, especially in economically developed nations.
  • According to a report from the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, an overweight child is at risk for developing several health problems. They include, but are not limited to, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea.
  • A Statistics Canada report tells us that obese children are more likely than their normal-weight peers to have specific health problems and that these may lead to further health issues as adults.
  • It's not only the physical health that suffers, as the NYU Child Study Center reports: there are mental health concerns as well. Obesity-related concerns such as being teased and having problems playing sports are negatively linked to a child's sense of well-being and quality of life. Overweight Teen suggests that obese children and teens often suffer from some of the psychological effects of being overweight, such as being depressed or having low self-esteem, which could in turn lead to behaviour problems.

What does this mean?

With 25 per cent of our children fitting into the obese category, it's time to take action. Childhood obesity is a a complex problem that should be addressed on many levels, from public awareness campaigns to government initiatives; but the real key lies in the home. By teaching children to make healthy food choices and encouraging them to live an active lifestyle, we can help ensure that our next generation will live long, healthy lives.

More on children's health

Childhood obesity: Survey says parents don't see hazards
Ways to get your kids exercise indoors
5 Simple rules for raising healthy kids

Tags: child obesity children health

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Comments on "Childhood obesity: How big of a problem is it?"

Pramod August 19, 2012 | 12:52 AM

I think it is a bit of both.When I was at school, a mimnium of 2 hours PE was incorporated into the curriculum, even if you are doing your GCSEs, and PE was not a subject you picked as an option, you had to do 2 x 1.5 hour sessions a week. When my younger cousin was doing her GCSEs 2 years ago, it was an optional thing, and she spent that time sitting on her bum at home. It doesn't help either when the school cooks do not cook as much anymore, merely reheat stuff.My mother raised my brother and myself on her own and on a meagre income, she often took either one of us with her, on Saturday, to Walthamstow Market (it was a half hour walk from my crummy council estate). We took an interest in the fruit and veg the guys were putting into the paper bags, and when it came to the supermarket, my bro and I had a friendly competition to find the cheapest but healthiest *item which was going to be for dinner that night* I think that was half the reason she allowed us to tag along ;o) but, she did not allow my brother or me to dictate our dinners (when we had them), we only had one choice and it was either on our plate, or we go hungry. She cannot understand why one of my aunts would cook a different meal for each of her children, and then something else for herself she is the mother, she should decide on dinner not the kids (who would be more than happy to live off of burger and chips, or pizza 365 days a year). The problem at home, is that most parents dare not leave their kiddies out of their sight to go outside in the (somewhat) fresh air and play, as they are told that a paedophile is on every corner and will snatch them away, and that is only when play areas or dirt tracks are not being sold on for redevelopment (it was heartbreaking going through my old council estate to see that the play area I spent a lot of my school holidays as a child has been turned into a . car park!)We are living in a time when doctors are seeing children with Rickets again, this is a disease which has hardly been seen in the UK for nearly 80 years! Both have a part to play, people must be very naive (or extremely stupid) not to make a link between an increasing sedentary childhood, increasing consumption in what I can only call crap , and lack of focus on physical education as a child, and their expanding waistlines!

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