Childhood obesity is the concern of both parents and health experts. They know that this condition is primarily due to poor nutrition and that it is a growing problem. They also have awareness of the fact that fast food may be the main factor in the prominence of childhood obesity. Could fast food truly be the root of childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity has grown exponentially in the past thirty years, reaching an all time high. Researchers have estimated that approximately 20% of children ages 6-11 and 20% of children ages 12-19 are overweight or obese. This is a sharp increase from the 1980s when these numbers were closer to 5%. Many are concerned about this increase in childhood obesity because of the health risks that are associated with the condition.
Children who suffer from obesity are more likely to have cardiovascular health problems later in life including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. Children may also develop other conditions like type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and other disorders. And though a single cause cannot be linked to the rise in childhood obesity, there is reason to believe that an increase in fast food consumption is one of the main factors.
Fast food is often cited as being unhealthy and fattening; however, is it the food alone which causes obesity? It is true that many fast food chains serve foods that are high in saturated fats like red meat and fried foods, as well as foods that contain large amounts of sodium and processed sugars. A diet which contains these types of nutrients can certainly result in obesity, but only if consumed regularly over time.
Many organizations dedicated to controlling the increase in childhood obesity are worried about just that. Fast food is readily available in America and many other countries and many families feel there is no better option. This is not only because the foods are designed to taste good and keep people coming back for more, but also because they are inexpensive and quick.
Parents today are often overworked and do not have time to wait for healthier food to be prepared or make the food themselves. Socioeconomic factors will often cause families to seek out the cheapest food options to save money. As a result, they will often choose fast food, which is less expensive than healthier options.
As a result, children are increasingly seeking out fast food as their only source of food. And once kids become familiar with these foods, they will begin to ask their parents for them and prefer them over other options. These behaviors, without further education, will carry over into adulthood and continue to impact the person's health.
In order to combat the reliance that many have on fast food, it is important for parents to educate their children on healthy food options. If a child learns what nutrients are important to get, the best places to get them, and why it is important, they will understand that excessive consumption of fast food can be damaging in the long run.