Childhood Obesity Begins in Infancy

Obesity Usually Begins With Toddlers

Childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years beginning in infancy according to the CDC; nearly 15% of children according to Mayo Clinic are officially obese. Childhood obesity is the biggest pediatric problem in the USA. Children who have obese parents are 75% more likely to become obese. This is not just happening in the USA,but it is becoming a world wide problem. It is estimated that nearly half the children in America are likely to have weight problems sometime in their lives. A South Carolina woman recently lost custody of her 14 year old son after being charged with child neglect when the boy’s weight reached555 pounds, and this has happened in other states as well. Parents are ultimately responsible for the health and welfare of their children.

Parents need to be educated about the dangers for their children regarding proper nutrition and exercise and the quality of the school lunches need improvement. They are more often based on budgets than on quality nutrition. There has been a trend of removing soft drink dispensers out of schools, which is a good first step.

The reason children are becoming obese is the same reason adults do, they take in more calories than they burn which results in a caloric imbalance. Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term consequences. The children are more likely to have higher risk of actors for heart disease and high blood pressure; they have a greater risk of bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, plus social and psychological problems. When children are obese they usually carry that problem into adulthood which make them more likely to develop type2 diabetes, higher risk for all cardiovascular diseases, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

Child Ostracized

source ukmedix.com/weighyt
source ukmedix.com/weighyt

Parental Teaching

source hypohealth.com
source hypohealth.com

New Types of Classrooms

A researcher at Mayo Clinic, Dr. James A. Levine, of Rochester, Minnesota,questions whether children really need to sit at desks while they learn? They are testing a revolutionary concept as they designed what they believe to be the first chairless school, which began in 2006. It is complete with “standing”desks, and a whole host of sophisticated learning technologies. They have found the children to be eager to learn the new way. They accomplished this task by assembling various businesses to furnish the new school. The Rochester Athletic Club built an indoor village to house the school. Apple provided I Book wireless notebook computers and i Pods that play video and America on the move which is a community based advocacy organization that is raising awareness of the concept. Numerous teachers applied for an opportunity to work with this new concept. The children activity is monitored by the Mayo Clinic team by special telemetry. Each child will wear a PAD on his or her leg, which measures the time spent standing and walking. Mayo has since started a number of research projects on Non-exercise Activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which is the production of heat, especially by physiological processes, starting with 3-4 year-olds. Other schools have adopted new style classrooms since this initial project.

Classroom Changes

The Beginning of Obesity

When does obesity in children really begin? Even the health of a two year old is closely tied to how much he eats, along with his activity level. The American Heart Association has established guidelines developed for children. Since they have presented these guidelines, while the number of overweight children has still increased,they are finding that the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol has decreased. From these finding one would presume the children are still too inactive and eating too much, but perhaps food that is a bit healthier. The eating habits of a child begin when they are toddlers. The general dietary guidelines of the AHA (American Heart Association)for 2 year-olds and older, stress that their diet should primarily rely on: fruits and vegetables; whole grains;low-fat and non-dairy products; beans; fish and lean meat. The things to avoid include saturated and trans-fats, cholesterol and added sugar and salt. They also recommend that the children are active which is usually typical of toddlers anyway.

The recently published Dietary Guidelines for Americans (for those 2years of age and older) and American Academy of Pediatrics Nutrition Handbook provide important supporting reference information with regard to overall diet composition, appropriate caloric intakes at different ages, macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients, portion size, and food choices. These books spell out the exact necessary amounts calorie intake; they make serving recommendations with regard to overall quality of the food choices.

Toddlers

Source flickr.com/foods
Source flickr.com/foods

Milk Substitute and Snacks

I raised 3 boys and I know these recommendations are easier said than done. Toddlers are often picky about what they eat, and sometimes they don’t want to eat at all. I didn’t know all this information when my children were young, although I tried to feed them balanced meals. Children need a balanced diet which means eating a proper amount and variety of nutritious foods. This means eating a combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Proteins build muscles,carbohydrates provide the body with energy and fats provide long-lasting energy.

So, how can we follow the guidelines of the American Heart Association with regard to milk? Once a child is weaned, they still need a lot of calcium and vitamin D. Enfamil and some other formulas are now made with soy milk. Many children have a milk intolerance, as lactose intolerance is much more common now, so soy milk is one alternative. If soy milk is the only type of milk your child has ever drunk they will not miss cow’s milk. However, soy milk is low in fat and it isn’t recommended that you child have their fat intake limited until they are 2 or 3 years old. Goats milk is another possibility,however, it lacks iron, folate and Vitamin B12 unless it is fortified, so ready our labels. Other foods that have calcium include yogurt, fortified orange juice, bread (Kid’s Iron Bread) and American cheese that can have up to 350 mg of calcium per slice. If your child has a true allergy to cow’s milk they are likely to have the same problem with goat’s milk. Fortified cereals may add a lot of nutrients to your child’s diets.

As allergies are also more common science recommends that you rotate your child’s food so they do not eat the same thing too many days in a row. According to some research eating something every fourth day will help prevent allergies.

Snacks are another problem as children love candy, cookies and ice cream, just to name a few. The first obvious choice would be to try to use fruit. Children often like finger foods, so grapes, berries, raisins, other dried fruit, and fruit that is cut up into bite size pieces may be more acceptable to your toddler. If you want to let them have ice cream, try frozen yogurt instead. Children like granola type bars and they are available in lower fat concentrates now. Common sense and moderation should rule the choices. Not keeping high calorie sweets in the house makes it easier to control what your child eats

Child Eating Fast food

source clipart image
source clipart image

As Children Age

Once you child reaches the age where they are playing with other children in the neighborhood you might talk to the parents of a playmate to let them know you don’t want your child to have certain foods and hopefully by that time the child will like the diet at home and be less inclined to try foods they are not familiar with. Most children will certainly like candy, but you could choose Raisins for instance. At least they would be getting some fruit with their chocolate. Chocolate has a lot of flavonoids and is not all bad in moderation.

In summary, we need to look at new options to help prevent childhood obesity and begin in infancy the healthy food choices for you want for your child. It is not always easy, but the goal is to raise a healthy happy child, free of disease if possible. If you remember that childhood obesity begins in infancy it will help you as a parent to curb the problem before it starts.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 38 comments

RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

I am gladchildhood is being brought to the forefront of public awareness and being supported by our first lady.

Unfortunately, our nation is overwrought with the poor and those barely making ends meet. As long as healthy foods is more expensive than unhealthy foods, the poor will always try to get the "most from their meager income."

Great increasing awareness hub Pam. Thanks!

Forever His,


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Rev Lady, I read a couple of places that a vegetarian diet is cheaper because you aren't buying meat but I've found that isn't necessarily true in my shopping. Fresh vegetables are expensive in the winter especially and you're right about the poor making ends meet.

When I was a single mom of 3 sons we had a lot of hamburger helper because that was what I could afford. I'm not saying that it is all bad for you but I had to learn to feed my children the best way I could at that time. Macaroni, potatoes, and other more fattening items are the cheaper purchase. I also think it is important to educate the poor on food stamps, because they might be able to make better choices and they don't realize this.

The first lady is doing a lot regarding public awareness of this obesity problem.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

This is a very timely and important article. When my kids were small, I never kept any candy in the house. Now they are grown and have very little interest in junk food. I think the old adage holds true, "Everything in moderation, nothing to excess".


vrajavala profile image

vrajavala 6 years ago from Port St. Lucie

Hi Pam,

Funny, my daughter is writing a paper on this towards her Master's degree. I love the idea of the desk!!! I told her that we should get some indoor bikes, so if our chubby 12 yr old wants to watch TV, he can burn some fat.

But, seriously, the pediatricians have been all over the place with their recommendations.

We have a daycare here, and I cannot believe it when parents send baby food with ham in it. for a 10 month old. But, that's their choice. We did have one super fat 9 month old, and the parents would always send baby food with meat. I really think that at that age, milk,cheese, fruit,crackers and cereal are better. Seems like the pediatricians change their minds every year. or is it that the lobbying food groups change their minds for them?

Now, i heard that Big Pharma wants to get in on it and prescribe anti-obesity medicine!!!!

Seriously...

Good job.


Bail Up ! profile image

Bail Up ! 6 years ago

It really irks me to watch some parents feeding their children sweets without regard to their health. The child screams and they are pacified with another cookie or lollipop. It is sad to see this.


partisan patriot 6 years ago

Pamela

Sorry but I have to challenge your last sentence in the first paragraph; “Parents are ultimately responsible for the health and welfare of their children.” I refer you to the statistics I cited in my past hub “Republican Denial of Global Warming is Starving School Children Across the Country.”

Marla Caplon the food services supervisor for Montgomery County Public Schools put the number of children receiving free breakfast, lunches and bags of staple foods to take home for the weekend at 43,000 in her county alone.

In addition to the figures cited by Caplon, Philadelphia public schools provide nearly 86,000 free lunches every day; Baltimore, provides an estimated 50,000; the District of Columbia, accounts for 32,000 each day. That’s a total of 168,000 free lunches plus the 43,000 admitted to by Caplon for a whopping 211,000 free lunches provided to children.

Nationwide; about 19.4 million students received free lunches on a typical school day last year!

So, sorry but this country has adopted old Hillary’s it takes a Village concept just as old Barrackie Boo is trying to ram the same concept through with his Government takeover of healthcare; Bleed-Bleed-Bleed-Oh Boo-Hoo-Hoo we gotta give them healthcare, their parents just can’t handle the responsibility……………..


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

BPOP, You were a good mom and the results obviously show as your children are not grown.

Vrajavia, I know the studies show something different every time you turn around, but some of it is common sense. I am certainly against pharmaceuticals being used. I imagine your daughter knows a lot more than I do about this problems.

Bail-up, I hate to see sucker in little children's mouths also. What about their teeth? Not to mention no nutritional value.

Patriot, I read your hub and agree with you on the quality of food served in schools. Parents should be working instead of living off the government anyway unless they are too ill or something like that. I still say the parents are responsible because it actually begins in the womb if you think about it. Did mom eat healthy while she was pregnant? Did she smoke? Did she try to nurse? Then, the child is in their care for those first couple of years because even if you use day care they make parents bring the food they want their child to eat when they are toddlers. When they are at an older school age, the we run into the problems you wrote about.


Partisan Patriot 6 years ago

You are correct pamela; sorry I got so side tracked by that one sentence!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Thank you Patriot.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Great Hub! The habits formed in childhood are deeply rooted and the hardest to break. Peace :)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I think it is the parents to blame and to me it is a crime to destroy a child like in every way.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thank you for share this information. We have to pay attention about this case, with many disease right now. Obesity not only for elder, but toddler and children also could get this problem. Snack also a big problem. There are many student got sick after consume snack, which contain a preservative that was not good for their health. good research, Pamela. As usual you give useful hub for us.


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

This was a great hub to read. I never thought of a child standing up in class-watching this video further explained it and to see the children yes! It makes sense! Kids have so much energy that they can't sit still to learn! It is so sad to see little kids so overweight and obese! This should not be!(Parents are just as obese-passing down poor eating and no excersizing) Excellent read for me!


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Great hub and a very important one. We need to stay away from fast food places and buying lots of junk food while shopping. They will do anything to get their fix, trade their healthy lunch for candy at school. Thumbs up, great hub...


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Katiem, Hello, Prasetio & Ghost Whisper, Thank you all so much for your comments. I think habits are learned very young and that's one thing I wanted to bring out in this hub. Teach the children before the age of peer pressure. Again, thank you everyone.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Darlene, Thanks so much for your comment and I agree with you.


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

Great hub. I think parents are partly at fault. PJ is trying to teach our grandsons when we have them to eat right. Broccoli is now trees to our Colton and he loves his carrot candy.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Robert, Thanks for your comment. We have to play games sometimes to get them to eat new things.


"Quill" 6 years ago

Hi Pam...great hub, I have watched this trend over the years where the fast food places are the same and often cheaper than cooking your own meal, tie that in with convenience and what you see is what you get in an overweight population...People now are getting better educated as well

Blessings


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Quill, Thank you for your comment. Fast food has definitely made obesity a greater problem.


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Pam - You just keep them coming. Very informative, well researched and well written. I believe you have covered pretty much every aspect right from start, to finish.

I am very fortunate that my daughters are right on top of nutrition with their children.

My grandchildren, the oldest being 7 doesn't even know about fast food restaurants. Two of them have been pretty much raised as vegetarians.

Great Job once again, Rated Up!

Sage


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

This whole child obesity epidemic really makes me sad, not only can it harm the child's physical health but emotional health as well and it something that is so preventable.


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Dear Pam...

Quite an interesting hub with lots of precise facts and recommendations. I Don´t have that problem with my kids, well with Sué Daniella(my 7-year old)anyways! My Son Claudio doesn´t have that problem either! Of course he´s a young adult now and it is his responsibility. Sué´s mother and stepfather Take very good care of her.

Thumbs up!

Warmest regards and blessings,

Al


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Sage, I'm glad to hear your family is eating so healthy. My grandchildren are near high school graduation and I know they eat with friends some things not on their home diet, but my grandson is an athletic and that keeps his diet in check more than anything else. Thanks for your comment.

Cary, You are right about the harm obesity causes in many ways. Thanks for your comment.

Mystique, Thanks for the compliment and I'm glad to hear your children are eating healthy.


rkhyclak profile image

rkhyclak 6 years ago from Ohio

Great hub Pamela! I agree on many points-especially that a child's nutrition and health is largely the parent's responsibility. Regardless of government financial/food support, there are choices (don't use the seasoning packet that comes in the cheap processed foods)! Unfortunately most of the choices end up being for convenience, not health.

Another issue that really fires me up is the use of the TV, video games and computer for a babysitter. It would benefit all involved for the parents to get off their hind-ends and take the kids out to play for an hour.

Anyway, again, great hub!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

rkhyclak, Thanks so much for the comments. You are right about your concerns which is why I wanted to express that if you start off right when your child is a toddler that you have a better chance at keeping them healthy and limiting TV and computer game times.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Very nice hub and very informative. They also do not make it easy in some middle schools and high schools also when they have mcdonalds and pizza hut served in the cafeterias. Kids eat this at school and then the parents take them out for a burger for dinner and they double whammy themselves. Its no wonder. I enjoyed your hub very much.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

LadyJane, You're right and that is one of the big problems. Thank you for your comment.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

This was a very well written hub. I have two toddlers, so this was a great read for me. I learned a lot from it.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nancy, Thanks so much for your comments.


expats profile image

expats 6 years ago from UK

A new report in the UK has criticized the amount and quality of food given to under-5`s in some nurseries there. There are no guidelines for nurseries, though there are for older children about the types of food they should be given. Apparently one-in-seven primary schoolchildren are now seriously overweight and experts predict that the problem could dramatically worsen in coming decades.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Expats, Thank you for your comment.


robertsloan2 profile image

robertsloan2 6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

One point to add to this for new mothers. Breastfeeding is much more likely to produce less obese babies. Human milk is better suited to their needs and they grow more muscle and bone, less fat. Most of the babies you see are extremely obese and every time a female friend breast fed, her baby looked different -- longer, leaner, more child-shaped, the baby fat would melt off in hours literally sometimes. Like one day plump and the next tall, that's what baby fat actually does.

It may be one of the biggest factors in itself, because baby formula is cow's milk with corn syrup and fortified with additives. It also does something else. Women who breast feed don't seem to wind up stuck heavier after having a baby, they put on extra weight during the pregnancy but it goes right through them when they're feeding a baby. I think the body just stores it for the next one if they don't nurse, at some chemical level the body prepared for something that ought to happen and didn't.

So that's something to keep in mind when making that choice. It has been true for every mother and infant I've known -- if mom breast fed, she got back to a lean figure fast and the baby wasn't fat -- and stayed skinny and active and fast-growing long after weaning. If mom bottle fed, she got stuck with ten to thirty or even fifty extra pounds that never came off and the baby was obese, the kid got stocky or plump.

It may have a few social difficulties doing it but the long term results are a lot healthier for moms and children.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Robert, You are right. I wrote another hub also and I think I mentioned breast feeding in that one, as it is the best way to go for such a big variety of reasons. Thanks for all your comments.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

It really bothers me to see all the overweight children here in my part of Texas; Not only for health reasons, but also because they will grow up thinking it is normal. As a result they won't have a point of reference to understand what it feels like to be a skinny kid full of energy.

I was recently in Wall-mart here in Texas. Behind me was a very overweight lady and her two overweight children. I looked in their shopping cart and saw no fruits or vegetables. I saw at least 5 two liter bottles of soda and lots of high fat processed foods. It is scary what is going on with children now-a-days.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Coolmon, I agree and it seems its the parents that need to be educated. The point in a couple of my hubs is to start children eating healthy when they are young and they will like the food because they won't know otherwise. It's sad that one can afford all the junk food and not consider buying the healthy items. Thanks for your comment.


beth811 profile image

beth811 6 years ago from Philippines

The problem here lies on the part of the mother. Some mothers lack of information on dietary guidelines for their children, others are just irresponsible giving their kids anything to eat especially sweets just to pacify them as what one of the commenters said here. Some mothers also are proud when friends praise their kids as chubby and adorable.

Thanks for sharing this well-researched and nicely written hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Beth, I think you are right about the mothers being ultimately responsible for what their children get.

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