Childhood Obesity, and overweight children are significant public health problems, and we have become a nation at risk. Precise causes for the rise in prevalence of childhood fatness in the U.S are not clear and establishing causality is difficult since longitudinal studies in this area are limited. Such research must employ long study times to discern if there is a communication of factors leading to an increase in the prevalence or the prevention of fatness during early days and adolescence.
The causes of youth fatness are multi-factorial. Overweight in children and adolescents are generally caused by a lack of physical activity, unhealthful eating patterns resulting in surplus energy intake, or a combination of the two. Not only have the rates of overweight increased, but the chubbiest children in a recent NHANES study were noticeably heavier than those in earlier surveys. Understanding the causes of childhood plumpness can provide the opportunity to direct resources, interventions and research in directions that would be most advantageous in addressing the problem. At a basic level, weight gain and corpulence are the consequence of individual choices.
As a nation at risk there has been considerable dispute over whether exposure to food advertising affects frequency rates of youth fatness. While the positive association between the hours of television viewed, body mass index, and obesity numbers has been documented, the precise mechanisms through which this occurs are still being investigated.
In short, the recent social and economic changes in American culture have encouraged the consumption of surplus energy and have had a detrimental effect on energy disbursement among youth. These changes have impacted the foods available in the homes, the lack of authority parents have when children make food selections has led to increases in sedentary behaviors among youth.