Obesity and overweight conditions in children has grown considerably and become a serious health problem. In fact, childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in young adults in the past 30 years alone. Unfortunately, although obesity is easy to recognize, it is difficult to treat and frequently becomes a lifelong problem.

The reality is, overweight children become overweight adults.

For the most part, obesity in children begins during adolescence somewhere between the ages of 5 and 6 (ideas about food and eating begin at a very early age) and past studies reveal that children that are obese between 10 and 13 will carry those habits into adulthood – with an 80% chance of being an obese adult. It is a very tough cycle to break. Of course these numbers shift if their eating and exercise patterns are changed up and new healthier ones adopted before adulthood.

What causes obesity in children? The answer is not simple and includes environmental, biological, behavioral, cultural and genetic factors. But the formula is easy…when someone continually consumes more calories than they are burning up they are setting themselves up for obesity. Although there are physical medical conditions that sometimes come into play, in reality that percentage is less than 1 percent of all obese individuals.

Childhood/Adolescence obesity is related to:

Unhealthy eating habits

Sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise (think about what children are wrapped up in these days…all their handheld digital devices that steal their time but offer no exercise or benefits to their body.)

Medical/Family history of obesity or overweight conditions.

Low self-esteem – overweight teens for the most part are less popular with peers and experience much lower self-esteem.

Emotional issues and depression – Follows low self-esteem.

Peer problems and family crisis.

Childhood obesity presents both long-term and immediate effects on health and well-being.

Short-term immediate effects:

Overweight children and young adults increase the risk factor for cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure and unhealthy levels of cholesterol).

Pre-diabetes – a condition that puts then at a higher risk for developing diabetes

Bone and joint issues as well as sleep disturbances/apnea.

Asthma – Many children that are obese or overweight have issue with Asthma.

Psychological problems and social issues resulting in poor self-esteem.

Long-term health effects:

Obese children oftentimes become obese adults with a higher risk to develop heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, variety of cancers and osteoarthritis.

In general, obese children usually come from families with obese adults (one or more). For that reason, treating obese children must include treating the family.

Preventing obesity in children and young adults:

Changing bad eating habits to good ones – focus should be on eating slowly and enjoyment of food. Forget the TV and digital devices…enjoy family meals together.

Portion control – in order to lose weight, less calories must be consumed than are burned.

Active lifestyle – activity is what will burn those calories and help to drop pounds.

Rewards – resist rewarding your children with food. Reward them with your time and play active games with them.

Track/Know what your child is eating at school and limit snacking at home to healthy unprocessed choices.

Better food choices – Avoid fatty foods, junk foods and fast foods. In fact, avoid all the fancy packaging and don’t give in to magnetic advertising. Plan meals ahead of time around nature’s bounty and leave the chemicals in the store. Avoid all the “C” choices – crackers, cookies, cakes, candy, chips, cupcakes…you get the drift.

If lifestyles and daily habits are not changed to healthier ones, any weight loss that is experienced will only be temporary. Young adults will often return to their old unhealthy habits of eating and “sitting” if they have not been taught how and why exercise is needed to maintain their desired weight and how to enjoy healthy foods in moderation.

Obesity in children and young adults is for the most part the result of poor lifestyle choices and adults are the ones held responsible for and empowered to change that. Regular exercise combined with healthy eating habits are the key to successful weight control, stellar health and well-being.

Skip the health stealing “fancy snacks” and “rewards” and give your kids the greatest gift of all…health and longevity.

Since snacking is so much a part of a child’s life (they are growing remember!), here’s some awesome snacks and treats you can give your children and feel good about what they are eating. Remember to use portion control!

These are raw food recipes (taking advantage of those nutrients in their original state!) that are gluten and sugar free, yet I guarantee, the whole family will love them. They are not only healthy and tasty, but  fun to serve.

You’ll find an awesome variety of healthy sugar and gluten free raw dessert recipes here:

50 Raw Desserts Volume One and Two…

You can browse my complete collection of books here all dedicated to the health and fitness of both adults and children:

Carolyn Hansen Fitness