What Causes Childhood Obesity?


Obesity is widespread for many reasons—complex reasons that when they come together they can cause a perfect storm of gaining too much weight, too fast. And this is happening to a lot of children, who then don’t grow out of the weight, and is causing what doctors are calling ‘extreme’ or Category 1 or 2 obesity.  These types of obesity are on the rise and cause a lot of health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone growth problems, latent bed wetting, problems sleeping in general, and early puberty.


The problem has best been described by one expert as follows: “The 4% of US children with extreme obesity is a number greater than the total number of US children who have cancer, cystic fibrosis, HIV, and diabetes combined.” 


 Why children gain too much weight too fast is complex. And with no vaccine on the horizon that will prevent obesity, children will need us to help them. We can do a few things:

1)     Let's learn to talk about too much weight gain in children with a clear understanding of its causes and with compassion so children feel loved and supported.

2)     Let’s bring caregivers, children, and doctors to the table to talk about the ‘real’ causes of obesity.

3)     Check out this slide from the Obesity Society that shows how complex the problem is and how many things contribute to why a child may be gaining too much weight too fast. Right now we have the perfect storm with many of the things colliding in our children’s world. See if you can identify a few things that may be impacting your child’s weight.

4)     Now, if you look at the right side of the chart, you could choose one or two things that you may be able to  help control in your child’s life. Maybe it’s eating away from home. We know this a contributor to obesity. Could you plan to eat more home cooked meals with your child. Or maybe there is a lot of stress in your home. We know stress is a major contributor to weight gain. Try reading up on some ways to reduce stress in your life, or plan for a quiet night at your home. Here are just a few quiet activities that can be done as a family and may help reduce stress: reading, listening to or playing music, praying, meditating, board games, singing,  checkers, chess, puzzles, and yoga.

5)     Focus on what your child is good at! Are they good at math, singing, art, dancing, soccer, etc…

6)     Say kind things to your child.Tell them everyday. Here are a few ideas: 

❤️Just seeing you makes me smile. I’m so glad you are here.

❤️You’re learning and growing—sometimes growing is fun and sometimes it is hard. I’m here for you when it’s fun and when it’s hard.

❤️No one is perfect so let’s be the best imperfect family we can be.

❤️I’m so happy we’re a family and that you’re my child.