How Do Children Become Obese?

Cartman Eating Cheesy Poofs

image: South Park Digital Studios

Want to know which kids are going to be obese in middle school?

Take a look at 5-year-olds in preschool and you have a good chance to foretell. In a study published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers show that about half the children who are obese in eight grade were overweight in preschool. Overweight 5-year-olds were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese!

What are the implications for parents?

Nutrition habits are formed during infancy. It is important to create the right ones from the onset. Innocent decisions such as apple juice in a baby bottle can mean a lifelong habit of sugary drink consumption. Settling for kiddie meal when going out instead of exposing a child to a wide variety of foods is also setting her up for failure.

That said, if your young child is overweight, it does not automatically mean he will be obese. Only half the overweight 5-year-olds became obese by eighth grade. If your preschooler is overweight, seek professional advice. The worst thing to do is to shame your child or berate him. In most cases, kids should not go on weight loss diets, but rather grow into their weight through proper nutrition and exercise. As these are formative years, course corrections can be made. It’s important that you as a parent will set the right example. You can’t expect your kid to drink water while you are sipping on a diet cola.

  • Max_Freedom

    I think it’s a lack of knowledge of nutrition by the parents.
    It is not necessarily their fault. Marketing is deceptive, schools don’t teach us anything, and most people have no idea what is bad for you.
    I was obese until 16-17 years old.
    Soda was never in the house, because it was bad.
    Every day, I was allowed as much Kool-Aid as I wanted, and dinner was frozen pizza, Ramen noodles, mac&cheese, or other frozen dinner.

    I would still be huge today, and I was for a couple years, if I had not learned thing on my own.

    • Zach West

      You can’t blame marketing and schools for obesity the only person you can blame is yoursekf . Companys dont make you eat and if you can’t figure out that all kool aid is is sugar water the same as soda thats your problem. If you want to figure out if something is healthy or not just flip it over and look at the nutrition facts its not that hard.

      • Fooducate

        You most certainly can blame marketing. In countries where regulators actually protect kids from predatory marketing, the children consume less junk food.

        If advertising did not work, companies would not shell out billions to convince kids to eat their products.

      • Max_Freedom

        I blame lack of knowledge and education.
        How is a neglected child supposed to know?
        People think that Gatorade is good for you.
        Some folks still think that pasta can be a healthy choice.
        Most restaurants sell salads that have more sugar and calories than a cheeseburger, and costs more.
        Remember when low fat and fat free was popular?
        That was a marketing gimmick to sell awful food products.

        How about the outrage over the Coca-Cola ad tonight?
        They are selling black, chemical-laden sugar water to people.
        People don’t seem to mind that it’s basically poison.

  • Hhj

    You can blame the fat, lazy, uneducated parents.

  • thom nix

    Junk food marketing is a strong influence on one’s nutritional status.
    Many of us are not lazy, but many of us opt for the easiest lifestyle option.