ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Childhood Obesity Begins in Infancy

Updated on February 16, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Active and Trim Boy


Obesity Usually Begins With Toddlers

Childhood obesity, which is defined as a child with extra body fat, has more than tripled over the past 30 years beginning in infancy according to the CDC; the CDC states 1 in 5 children between ages 6 and 19 are officially obese.

Childhood obesity is the biggest pediatric problem in the USA, as even 18.4 percent of children from 2 and 5 years old are obese. Children who have obese parents are 75% more likely to become obese.

A South Carolina woman lost custody of her 14 year old son after being charged with child neglect when the boy’s weight reached 555 pounds, and this has happened in other states as well. Parents are ultimately responsible for the health and welfare of their children.

Parents need education about the dangers for their children regarding proper nutrition and exercise; and, the quality of the many school lunches still need improvement. They are more often based on budget 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. These children have a greater risk of social and psychological problems.

Additionally, obese children often carry that problem into adulthood, which make them more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, a higher risk for all cardiovascular diseases, a higher blood pressure, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

Consequences of Childhood Obesity

States vary as to childhood obesity rates. For instance, the children in Utah have the lowest rate at 19.2 percent, and Tennessee is the highest at 37.7 percent.

Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term consequences. These children have a greater risk of bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, plus social and psychological problems.

Additionally, obese children often carry that problem into adulthood, which make them more likely to develop the following health problems:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Risk for all cardiovascular diseases, including strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Several types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis and other joint problems

Parental Teaching


Stand and Learn

Dr. James A. Levine, is an Mayo Clinic obesity expert and tried a student classroom with standing desks in 2006. It is complete with “standing” desks and a whole host of sophisticated learning technologies. They have found the children were eager to learn the new way, and they burned more calories while standing.

They accomplished this task by assembling various businesses to furnish desks to the new school. The Rochester Athletic Club built an indoor village to house the school. Apple provided iBook wireless notebook computers and iPods that played videos with 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 wore a PAD on his or her leg, which measured 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.

NEAT is actually the calories burned when not exercising, which includes things like walking from the car to the school, doing simple chores or maybe standing while doing an art 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 (AHA) has established guidelines developed for children.

The AHA has found that the intake of saturated fats has improved, but obesity has continued to be a problem. Apparently the children are still too inactive while eating more calories then required, but perhaps the food is a bit healthier. The eating habits of a child begin when they are toddlers.

The general dietary guidelines of the AHA for infants and young children stress their diet should primarily rely on:

  • Fruits and vegetable
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat and non-dairy products
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Lean meat

The things to avoid include: saturated and trans-fats, cholesterol, added sugar and salt. They also recommend that the children are active, which is usually typical of toddlers anyway.



Milk Substitute and Snacks

Children need a balanced diet, which means eating a proper amount and variety of nutritious foods. This also 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? The AHA suggests 2% 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, almond or coconut milk is an alternative. If soy milk is the only type of milk your child has ever drank, they will not miss cow’s milk. However, soy milk is low in fat, and it isn’t recommended for your child's fat intake as it is limited until they are 2 or 3 years old. Goat's milk is another possibility, however, it lacks iron, folate and Vitamin B12 unless it is fortified, so read your labels.

Other foods that have a good amount of calcium include yogurt, fortified orange juice, bread (Kid’s Iron Bread) and American cheese. They receive up to 350 mg of calcium per slice of bread. 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.

Children like granola type bars, and they are available in lower fat concentrates now. Common sense and moderation should rule the choices.

Child Eating Ear of Corn


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. Hopefully by that time the child will like the diet at home and be less inclined to try foods they are not familiar with.


In summary, we need to look at new options to help prevent childhood obesity. Begin using healthy food choices in infancy. It is not always easy, but the goal is to raise a healthy, happy child, that is free of disease if possible. Keeping your child active is so important. Limit TV and computer time.

If you remember that childhood obesity begins in infancy it will help you as a parent to curb the problem before it starts.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • beth811 profile image

    Beth Arch 

    10 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • Coolmon2009 profile image


    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • robertsloan2 profile image


    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Expats, Thank you for your comment.

  • expats profile image


    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Nancy, Thanks so much for your comments.

  • nancy_30 profile image


    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • ladyjane1 profile image


    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • rkhyclak profile image


    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • Mystique1957 profile image


    10 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,


  • Cari Jean profile image

    Cari Jean 

    10 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.

  • Sage Williams profile image

    Sage Williams 

    10 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!


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • profile image


    10 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


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Putz Ballard profile image

    Putz Ballard 

    10 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 imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 

    10 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...

  • Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

    JG the IGNITER 

    10 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!

  • prasetio30 profile image


    10 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.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    10 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.

  • katiem2 profile image

    Katie McMurray 

    10 years ago from Ohio

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Thank you Patriot.

  • profile image

    Partisan Patriot 

    10 years ago

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

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • profile image

    partisan patriot 

    10 years ago


    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……………..

  • Bail Up ! profile image

    Bail Up ! 

    10 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.

  • vrajavala profile image


    10 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!!!!


    Good job.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    10 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".

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    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.

  • RevLady profile image


    10 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,


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)