What Causes Childhood Obesity? – Part 3

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As many of my regular viewers to this web blog know, there are many factors contributing to childhood obesity. I post daily here about it, whether news print articles, opinions, feedback, or just personal opinion.

Recently, I wrote an article for Yahoo! (click here) about childhood obesity. I started searching for sources for this article, and received over 100 responses to the question, “What do you think caused the rise in childhood obesity?” Responses came from professional and Olympic athletes, fitness experts, health experts, nutritionist, and parents.

I was unable to use everyone’s feedback, but thought it would be great to post some of their responses on my blog in a new web series, “What Causes Childhood Obesity.” I hope that you enjoy the opinions here from various individuals. Please remember, my including their posts does not necessarily mean I agree or endorse their opinion, rather, a place to share other people’s thoughts.

Keeping Kids Fit
Opinion: Peter Vash, M.D.

Children today are overall less active than those in previous generations because technology has become part of our everyday lives. Children spend more time watching television & playing video games. These activites are
also often paired with the habit of eating high-calorie snacks, like cookies or chips. The types and amounts of foods kids eat also contribute to weight gain. There is an astonishing variety of readily available (such as vending machines and at the corner gas station) foods that tend to be large or multiple in portions (it’s common for a highly-sweetened fruit drink or iced tea, for example, to be sold in a bottle containing more than two servings). These foods are also often high in fat, low in fiber, and high in sugar.

A great way to help your child become more lean is by being a positive role model, teaching by example about how to eat better and move more. Offer your child loving, positive support while you take on a healthier lifestyle
together. Pointing out poor habits or making ultimatums for weight loss aren’t positive or effective ways to teach a child healthier lifestyle choices.

The main key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is incorporating good nutrition and physical activity into the family’s everyday life. Here are a few guidelines and first steps to take toward guiding your child to a healthier lifestyle.

• Avoid using the word “obese” when referring to your child’s weight; it can negatively impact how they think about themselves.

• Include the entire family in a healthier lifestyle—not just the overweight child. – Go on walks, bike rides or hikes as a family. Focus on having fun and on getting healthier—not on losing weight—during these new

• Involve children in preparing meals; it’s fun for them as well as a great way for them to learn about healthy cooking.

• Take a look at the role food plays in the family. Try to avoid giving it as a reward, or restricting it as a punishment.

• Set aside enough time to eat together without rushing; this will help the family enjoy the food and to feel more full—and satisfied—afterward.

Information from diet expert Peter Vash, M.D., medical director of Lindora & board-certified internist specializing in endocrinology and metabolism with an emphasis on obesity and eating disorders