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Childhood obesity is widespread and for some food is not the only culprit. There are ongoing studies that showcase the global outcome of the nearly 330 million children and adolescents who do not regularly eat nutritionally balanced meals.
Childhood and adolescent obesity opens the door for cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. All of which can marginalize the quality of life and lead to an early death.
Factors Contributing to Childhood Obesity
Food is not the only reason some children are obese. There are several contributing factors that are a direct and indirect result of what goes into their mouths.
Socioeconomic factors play a major role in the consumption of the types of food that are accessible to children. Depending on a child’s zip code and the amenities offered in their community they may not have access to food that yields high nutritional value.
Some families are not in close proximity to grocery stores and therefore are forced to shop at convenience stores. This gives them less availability to fresh fruit and vegetables and more access to foods high in preservatives and sodium such as packaged meats, crackers, and cookies.
Frequenting fast food restaurants can add to increased childhood obesity.
Neighborhoods with high crime rates act as a deterrent for families to safely go shopping for food. Low-income communities lack adequate and/or safe parks for children to play which contributes to a sedentary lifestyle that is conducive to widespread childhood obesity.
Culturally, people have a natural proclivity to eat the foods they ‘grew up on’ which may be high in saturated fats, carbohydrates, butter, sodium, and sugar.
Depression and anxiety from bullying or other social issues can also be the root cause of obesity in children.
Combating Childhood Obesity
Combating childhood obesity includes, at the very least, addressing the aforementioned underlying socioeconomic and cultural factors. Families must learn how to properly select and prepare well-balanced meals. They must also be given access to purchase these foods, as well as a means to safely be active in their communities.
In terms of food consumption, the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, show that probiotics may serve as a health benefit when consumed and applied to the body. These live bacteria and other microorganisms can be found in yogurt, kefir, goat milk, aged cheeses, other fermented foods, and dietary supplements.
Dr. Christopher Moran, a pediatric gastroenterologist stated, “The more processed foods that you eat, the more likely you are to have a bad effect on the microbiome. That could potentially lead to obesity but also potentially (gastrointestinal) distress and inflammatory conditions of the GI tract such as Crohn’s disease.”
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN Health: Probiotics may help manage childhood obesity, study finds; Kristen Rogers
American Psychological Association: Childhood obesity disparities: Influential factors and intervention strategies; Guillermo M. Wippold, MS, and Carolyn M. Tucker, PhD
Michigan Medicine: Low-income communities more likely to face childhood obesity
Featured Image by Tony Alter Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Christer’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License