Childhood Obesity: Causes and Prevention

Childhood Obesity: Causes and Prevention

By Ritu Bhatia  on: 06 July 2018
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India still a developing country that is struggling with poverty and malnutrition, has the second highest number of obese children. Childhood obesity is a serious health threat to children. Those extra pounds put kids at risk for developing serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, skin problems, memory and behavioral issues, asthma etc.


Diet: Today children prefer junk food over traditional home-cooked food. Regularly consuming high-calorie fast foods like pizza, pasta, French fries, burgers, waffles, cookies, oreo shakes momos, patties, soft drinks, mocktails, fruit juices, sports drinks (yes teenagers are gulping sports drinks in spite of leading a sedentary lifestyle) can easily cause your child to gain weight.

Oreo: Oreos are also extremely high in fat and sugar. One cookie alone contains two teaspoons of sugar. This extreme amount of sugar and fat can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems

Noodles: Studies show that instant noodle intake may be associated with a higher intake of sodium, calories and fat plus a lower intake of protein, vitamins and minerals resulting in obesity, constipation,high blood pressure, mood swings etc.

French Fries/Chips: These are particularly rich in trans fats and saturated fats. Acrylamide, a substance found in french frie and potato chips has the potential to cause cancer in humans

Lack of exercise: Kids spending les time playing outside, and more time watching TV, playing video games, and sitting at the computer gain weight easily.

Genetics: Our genes help determine body type and how the body stores and burns fat. But genes alone can't explain the current obesity crisis.

Family factors: People in the same family tend to have similar eating patterns .This is especially true for busy families where high-calorie foods are always available or ordered from outside and less cooking is done at home. A child's chances of being overweight increase if one or both parents are overweight or obese.

Consequences of Childhood Obesity:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated blood cholesterol
  • Liver and gallbladder disorders
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma
  • Sleep disorders such as difficulty breathing while asleep (sleep apnea)
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • PCOS/PCOD in girls
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Skin problems like acne, eczema, dry and dull skin

Childhood obesity is also related to:

  • Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • Low self-esteem and lower self-reported quality of life.
  • Social problems such as bullying and stigma.

Preventing Childhood Obesity: 


  • Plan your shopping list with your child to buy healthy foods
  • Give your child nutritious and interesting tiffin
  • Make meal and snack times calm and fun for your child. Turn the television off and have your child sit at the table to eat. It is a good idea to eat meals and snacks with your child.
  • Keep healthy snacks available by placing them on low shelves in the fridge or in the cabinets so your children can reach them when hungry. Keep a bowl of fruit out so children can help themselves, since they are more likely to eat foods that are visible
  • Give plenty of calcium rich foods like milk, curd, buttermilk, nuts and ragi to achieve high peak bone mass.
  • Some kids do not eat cooked veggies but enjoy them in their raw form. Try giving them vegetables in the form of salads, sprouts salads, bhel and vegetables chaat etc.
  • Water should be given in adequate amount with lots of coconut water, lemon water, aam panna, buttermilk, sattu etc
  • Get them enroll in sports classes they like. Children should get 60-90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
  • Limit screen time.  Discourage too much of computer or video games.
  • Gift them fitness oriented items like skipping rope, mini trampoline, exercise bike, football, membership of a sports club keeping their skills and interests in mind.


  • Never use meal times to criticize his/her behavior.
  • Never allow them to leave home without a good breakfast. Good breakfast helps in attention span, good social behavior and prevents bingeing
  • Television advertisements can encourage unhealthy junk food cravings in your children. Restrict television viewing and explain to your children that these foods can harm their body if consumed regularly
  • As the child has more access to money and food outlets at schools and near home, they can try the popularly advertised junk food by themselves. So, give limited amount of money and provide tiffin from home.
  • Do not allow your child to eat out in school canteen regularly.
  • Cut out Cola: Sodium benzoate and phosphoric acid found in soft drinks can cause serious damage to the DNA in the mitochondria. Caffeine in colas is diuretic. Phosphoric acid in soda may even contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood.
  • Do not offer food as a reward. This teaches your child to eat for reasons other than being hungry. Offer other rewards such as stickers, a special toy, or a special activity.
  • Don't completely ban all sweets and favorite snacks. Kids may rebel and overeat forbidden foods outside the home or sneak them in on their own. Serve healthy foods most of the time and offer treats once in a while.

Be a role model for them. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly and lead a stress free life as children copy what they see and they will follow your example more than your advice..


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Ritu Bhatia

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Best Nutritionist in Faridabad & Delhi, India 

Ritu Bhatia is a Clinical Dietician & Diabetes Educator from Faridabad with over  9 years of experience in Nutrition and Wellness Industry. She works with fitness enthusiasts, people with medical conditions like diabetes, PCOS, hypothyroid, heart disease, digestive disorders and other lifestyle disorders,overworked corporates and almost everyone who needs to achieve a state of health and well being.Dietician Ritu entered into clinical practice, after completing B.Sc from Delhi University and later specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics from the Institute of Hotel Management,Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition (PUSA). She doesn't believe in quick fix diets, rather in making positive changes for the life time. She applies the holistic approach to nutrition, weight and health management, while incorporating correction to an underlying specific problem. All diet plans are personalized and customized as per individual eating habits and lifestyle and contains food options that are easily available & practical for you. 
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