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Beyond Baby Fat

"What are the causes of the obesity epidemic nowadays?"
By: Ma. Jocelyn A. Niere-Quidlat, MD, FPPSBeyond Baby Fat

What are the effects of obesity? The obesity-related illnesses which used to be traditionally adult diseases are now seen in children. These include sleep apnea, type -2 diabetes, hypertension, abnormal cholesterol levels, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and fatty liver. Injury to the open growth plates of the hip and knee may also occur in children. Depression and low self-esteem have also been associated with childhood obesity.

What is the cause of the obesity epidemic nowadays? There are many possible factors: genetic predisposition, the environment, nutrition, activity, and behavior.

A child who has obese parents has a greater probability of being an obese adult. Infants who gain excessive weights during the first four months of life are most likely to be overweight when they reach the age of 7. Prolonged breastfeeding of infants has been shown to decrease obesity and type-2 diabetes in children and a reduction in type-2 diabetes in mothers.

A shift in the nutrition and activity environment also affects the risk of obesity. Eating out is common nowadays and is considered a major factor in the obesity epidemic. Between 1977 and 1996, the proportion of foods that children consumed from restaurant and fast food outlets increased by 300 percent in the U.S. The Philippines has adopted the western style of eating, hence Filipino children have also embraced the fast food mentality. Increased serving size in restaurants is also a factor.

Inactivity is also associated with obesity. The advent of high-technology gadgets has resulted in the children becoming more sedentary. They prefer to play with their gadgets rather than indulge in sports and physical activity. The number of hours for television viewing has added to the obesity problem. It encourages excessive junk food snacking while being inactive on the couch.

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