Understanding Childhood Obesity – Causes and Risks

Childhood obesity is an alarming worldwide problem that afflicts children aged six to nineteen. Due to the skyrocketing incidence of obesity in children, it has been estimated that more than 15% of all children within the given age bracket are already clinically obese- a sure sign that parents must take action. According to clinical studies done back in 2002, 15% of all children in the age bracket (6-19) were at risk for obesity.

What causes childhood obesity?

It should be no surprise to many parents that two of the greatest evils of modern living, overeating and lack of physical exercise are the main causes of childhood obesity. The prevalence of the problem so great that we are seeing more and more children below the age of 7 suffering from other related conditions, such as juvenile diabetes. Children who have been fed with fast food and take-out dinners from a very young age and have been accustomed to large amounts of sweets and sodas are considered high-risk for obesity.

Other factors

o Genetic predisposition- we speak of family lines that have had a long history of adult, overweight individuals who may have also suffered from other maladies associated with being obese or overweight. If both parents are overweight or obese, there is a big chance that the children are also at risk.

o The child’s psychology- peer pressure, problems at school, bullying and low self esteem can also lead to childhood obesity. Children usually find very few avenues to adequately vent their feelings of fear, frustration and alienation, so food becomes a natural outlet. Unfortunately, venting on food provides very temporary relief from the pressures of the real world and eventually takes a toll on the body.

o The family- what foods do the parents usually buy when they go grocery shopping? Often, unhealthy food choices can be traced to what the parents are accustomed to buying and feeding their children.

Childhood obesity can be brought about by other factors apart from lifestyle problems. While it is possible for genetic predisposition and other such factors to play a part in the formation of the problem, it is highly recommended that children who are already in the overweight category should begin regular physical activities such as sports and exercises. Sports such as the various martial arts can also help boos flagging confidence levels and may even help improve academic performance, because exercise has been known to make the mind and memory sharper.


Childhood obesity is a very frightening reality that we must actively address so it won’t be too late for our children. Lifestyle changes and long term diet improvements can help reverse a lifetime of bad eating habits. Starting on a new sport, such as martial arts or other similar sports can provide an adequate avenue where weight can be controlled and self-esteem issues can be addressed.