Why Is My Child Gaining Weight?
Children who watch even one hour of television a day are more likely to be overweight or obese when they enter kindergarten, compared to children who watched less TV daily. This habit, as well as others, may be fueling a weight problem and obesity in your child.
The study which looked at data involving the habits of over 11,000 children, found that TV watching time specifically was a unique habit that made a difference in children’s weight. Even after controlling for parent’s income status and education, and other factors that could impact the risk of obesity, the number of hours a child sat and watched TV had a direct impact on their weight. The study’s findings should inspire parents to put specific time limits on TV watching time. There should also be screen free zones in the home like the kitchen and the child’s bedroom.
There are other risk factors for childhood obesity. They include:
Environmental air pollution – A study in 2012 suggests that prenatal (during pregnancy) exposure to high levels of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in the air could raise the risk of children developing obesity by age 7. Steering clear of car exhaust fumes, secondhand smoke and the smoke produced by grilling can help to reduce exposure.
Heavy use of antibiotics as a child – A 2012 study published in the journal Nature suggested a strong link between early use of antibiotics in children and the risk of obesity. The theory is that antibiotics impact gut microbes, while they are also attacking the bacterial infection, and the change in the gut microbe population may instigate a higher risk of developing childhood obesity.
Factors in breast milk may play a role in childhood obesity – A very recent study out of Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, suggests that childhood risk of obesity may be increased when infants are fed breast milk that regularly contains non-nutritious carbohydrates. The study found that certain variations in complex carbohydrates impact infant growth and the possible risk of developing obesity.
Lack of sleep – Sleep deprivation can make children and adults hungrier. A number of studies have linked poor sleep patterns and inadequate sleep (and in some cases excess sleep) to excess weight gain. The theory is that that the actual deprivation can motivate eating and lack of sleep may also blunt the ability to make good food choices or blunt the ability to have a feeling of fullness.
BPA exposure is associated with childhood obesity – A 2013 study found that children who were found to have high levels of BPA (a chemical found in plastics) seemed to have a higher risk of developing obesity. Earlier studies had shown a correlation of BPA levels in adults and the presence of obesity. BPA is absorbed through the skin, and children can also be exposed while developing in their mother’s womb. Bottles and sippy cups commonly contained BPA until recently (The FDA banned it in 2012). There are still many products that are made with BPA.
The abundance of fast food and highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, advertising campaigns, too many food choices, sedentary lifestyle and lack of adequate daily exercise are other possible drivers of childhood obesity. It is clear that if obesity entrenches in childhood, it is likely that the child will continue to suffer with obesity throughout adulthood. Success rates of maintaining weight loss once goal weight is achieved are somewhat dismal. So it’s crucial for parents to help their children to avoid obesity.
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Sources: Medical News Today