Dr. David Fusani
Causes of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has risen dramatically in the last two decades. In 1960, only four percent of children ages 6-11 were seriously overweight, but that number skyrocketed to thirteen percent in 1999 (Mithers, Oct 2001). Although many factors have contributed to this increase, the most prevalent are, the increase of sedentary time, advertising, the increased consumption of soft drinks and other sugary fruity drinks, larger portion sizes, and all these combined. "The typical American child is started on baby foods at too young an age, learns to fill up on soft drinks, fast food, and sweets, is driven door to door in a car, has few if any chores to do, and spend to much time in front of the television (Eden, 1975).
Obesity is calculated by a measurement called the Body Mass Index or BMI. The BMI takes into account height and weight for determining obesity. The American Obesity Association uses the 85th percentile of the body mass index as the standard of being overweight and the 95th percentile for obesity. As shown in the tables below, the increase of childhood obesity over the last few decades is dramatic.
Lack of physical activity is a large contributor to childhood obesity. Research has shown that children today are leading more sedentary lives. Part of this is due to the absence of physical education in public schools or the cutting of recess to allow for more time in classes. With budget cuts in many school districts, one of the first things to go is physical education. The percentage of kids participatiing in daily physical educations programs has dropped from 80 percent to 20 percent (Veix, Oct 1999). Without the structure of physical eductation in schools, children are less likely to learn how to exercise and better health habits.
Electronic media has also had a huge impact on obesity in children. The average time that a child spends in front of...