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Childhood Obesity- I(1)

Por Alvin N. Eden, M.D. -

According to the latest statistics the epidemic of childhood obesity not only continues, but is now worse than ever.

More and more of our children are growing up overweight now compared to 25 years ago when my first book Growing Up Thinwas published. Growing Up Thinwas one of the first books written to help parents not only tackle, but prevent childhood obesity. Obviously, my book’s message did not get through to enough mothers and fathers.

A child becomes overweight for a variety of reasons, and very often, for a combination of reasons. Let’s discuss the causes of obesity one at a time:

  • Genetics.It is no secret that obesity runs in families. Many studies have shown that when both parents are overweight, there is an 80% chance that their child will be overweight. If one parent is overweight there is a 50% chance a baby will become obese. If both parents are thin, the chances of their baby becoming overweight is only 10%. What does this all mean? It simply means that children with obese parents are at a higher risk of becoming overweight, than those born to thin parents. However, even if everyone in the family is overweight, a child can still grow up thin and healthy.
  • Eating patterns.Strong evidence proving obesity is not only genetic comes from the experience of veterinarians. Veterinarians have long known that fat people usually raise fat dogs. In households where people are all within an average weight, dogs seldom become overweight. Obviously, this cannot be attributed to genes. What and how much a person eats is at least equally as important as a family history of obesity. Far too many children grow up never having learned how to eat properly. Many toddlers are already on diets that are too high in calories, saturated fat and sugar. Junk foods are often used as rewards. Serving sizes are too large and meals are increasingly being eaten outside the house, usually in fast food restaurants. The result is not only obesity, but also elevated blood pressures and high blood cholesterol levels in many school age children. These are risk factors for serious trouble later in life.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.This is the third major factor explaining why the prevalence of childhood obesity is rising. The 7th chapter in my most recent book, Dr. Eden’s Healthy Kids,is titled “Fight the S.O.B. Syndrome.” In this case, S.O.B. stands for Sitting On Butt. Overcrowding, increased automobile traffic, less open space to play, fewer playgrounds, and less time for physical education in schools, all reduce the opportunities for kids to run around, play, and burn calories. In addition, television, video games, and home computers, make it very easy for a child to become sedentary and inactive, hence the term “S.O.B. Syndrome.”

The combination of taking in too many calories and not burning enough leads to obesity. It’s as simple as that. Remember: the longer a child is fat the more likely they’ll be to remain this way.


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