Eating Habits: The Causes Of Childhood Obesity

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According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2003-2006, in the United States alone, over 12 million children are overweight or obese. This number has doubled for obese children and tripled for obese adolescents over the past 20 years. Although childhood obesity is a growing health problem everywhere, these numbers are the highest in the world. In addition to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2003-2006, there are other surveys done that have shown higher numbers. The percent of children suffering from obesity among all surveys is 15-25%. This is an alarming amount considering what the trend has been in the last two decades.
Obesity is calculated based upon the child’s body mass index (BMI).
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It is simple due to the fact that if you eat more calories than you burn, those extra calories will turn into fat. The reasons why children are eating more and exercising less is what makes it complex. Eating habits have changed drastically in the last 50 years. Today’s rapid pace of life and change of economic demands have had a direct effect on our eating habits. Food is marketed by convenience, portability and accessibility. Portion sizes have also increased. Research shows a progressive increase in portion size from 1977 to 1998. Some fast food restaurants have almost triple their portion size since 1970. There has also been a trend toward eating out more, both in fast food establishments and sit down restaurants. Children are continually consuming more of their calories away from home. Even at home meals have changed tremendously, due to low cost of prepared meals, ready to eat meals, and ready to heat meals. The convenience and time savings of these meals is their appeal. Increase in working mothers, and time demands on parents in general, have shifted meal preparation priorities to convenience and timeliness. This has resulted in fewer meals eaten together as a family. The food industry has answered the call by packaging foods better with longer shelf life. Modern appliances such as microwaves and pizza ovens are also a factor, cutting down on cooking times. It seems the goal is to get the best food, in the shortest amount of time, for the lowest cost. The advertising of high sugar and high fat foods to children has also increased. Children are consuming more sugary beverages than ever and less milk and

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