Kaitlyn Morgan: Cerebral Palsy and Physical Therapy

Childhood Nutrition and Obesity
By: Sarah Clarke

When people think of obesity many refer to it as a condition that affects adults the most. However most cases of adult obesity start during childhood. Chidhood obesity is an epidemic that has grown tremendously over the past fourty years. Most cases are caused by poor eating habits and a lack of excersise. It is also common for children to inherit genes that make it hard for them to metabolize their food. Unfortunatly childhood obesity creates long term psychological effects such as lack of confidence and physical complications. Attending to these problems is not easy, many bad habits have been entrenched into the child's every day life and are hard to break. However long term lifestyle changes can be made to improve a childs condition and provide a better outlook on their medical future.

Main Points to be Adressed
  • What early behaviors lead to childhood and adolescent obesity?
  • Can childhood obesity be related to genetics or hereditary?
  • Possible long term effects of childhood obesity.
  • Psychological impact.
  • Forms of prevention
  • Possible remidies.

Causes of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is effcted my more than just a child's diet at home. When reading the Journal of the American Association (JAMA) it listed things such as the environment a child lives in; weather they can go outside and excersise, and if they have parents who are also obese as causes that add to the child's chances of being obese. Unfortunatly, because all of these factors contribute to a child's obesity it is very hard to reverse a child's obesity. In a study done by JAMA 150 kids were put into a five month wieght loss program. The group was devided into a four month behavior maintnace group a four month social maintenance group and a control group. Even though the maintenance groups did better than the control group the results had only a slight effect and were short lasting. Because of these results it was determind by JAMA that weight maintenance tactics such as lowering wieght gain was a better aproach than trying to get rid of weight quickly (JAMA).

Genetic Aspects of Childhood Obesity
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In the Genetics Aspects section of the book Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence it states that few genes have been identified as contributors to childhood obesity. Currently researchers know that the most important mutation that causes obesity in children is the melanocortin-4 receptor gene. Currently researchers are counting on the human genome project to assist in the identification of more genes. This will provide the basis for a more complet network of communtication between researchers and physicians and can open obesity up to be considered a a medical condition determind by genetics (genetics).

Possible Long Term Effects
external image complication-childhood-obesity.jpgWhen researching the long term effects of childhood obesity, Gillian Howard's book Nutritional Requirements of Infants and Young Children introduced problems such as hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and diabetes as common risk factors associated with the condition. Overall it is easy to determine that an improportional amount of weight put on a small developing frame will cause musculoskeletal conditions as well as put a huge amount of stress on the heart. As Gillian Howard also points out getting overwieght children to participate in physical activites is difficult because of their lack of self confidence and the amount of work a child would have to put in to participating. This leads to the development of a lifestyle void of excercise that will follow the child into their adult life.

Psychological Impact
Psychological factors play into the reason a child becomes obeses and why many children avoid social physical activities when they are obese. Gillian Howard states that there are many reasons why children become obese such as; parents using food as a reward, children eating for comfort, parents attempting to get children to eat everything on their plate and so forth as reason children become obese and continue to add to their condition later in life. When children grow up obese they are often teesed, this teasing leads low self-esteem. Gillian sugests that these interactions will cause insecurity and isolation.
Forms of Preventions & Possible Remedies
Web MD offers many ways for children to avoid becoming obese. Consistant with previouse statements it urges parents to
  • not force children to finish everything on their plate, let them decide what their limits are
  • provide foods with better nutritional value
  • provide foods with fiber, to help regulate and clean out their system
  • reduce the child's calorie intake
  • get them outside and moving, limit the amount of time they are allowed to watch T.V.
  • do not use sweets as a reward for good behavior
These guidlines also serve as ways to manage a child's wieght gain when they are already obese. However as a City of Hamilton article on childhood obesity
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states parents cannot throw children into intense workouts.
Parents should pay attention to their childs physical
capabilities and allow the activities to progress as their
ability to keep a high energy levels increases.
As the JAMA article recomends, parents must make an effort to maintain their child's food consumption and police their own tendancies when they are feeding their children.


- Goutham Rao, MD, Child Obesity : A Parent's Guide to a Fit, Trim, and Happy Child, Prometheus Books, Publishers, New York, 2006
- Gillian Howard, Joyce M Thompson, Nutritional Requirements of Infants and Young Children : Practical Guidelines, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden 1977
- W. Keiss, C.Marcus, M. Wabitsch, Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence, S. Karger AG, New York, 1997
- Bar-Or, Oded. "Childhood Obesity can physicians make a decision." City of Hamilton. 5 Mar. 2004. 12 Nov. 2008 http://connectionshp.hamilton.ca/obesity/childhoodobesityv2n1.htm.
- Rhodes, Erinn T. "Childhood Obesity as a Chronic Disease." JAMA. 10 Oct. 2007. 12 Nov. 2008 <http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/298/14/1695?maxtowshow=&hits=10&hits=10>.
- "Prevent CHildhood Obesity." Web md. 10 July 2008. 12 Nov. 2008 <http://children.webmd.com/preventing-childhood-obesity?print=true>.