According to the Journal of Young Investigators, the three main causes of obesity identified by researchers include genetics, overeating and lack of exercise. In today’s digital world, where tablets and smart phones rule, physical activity is falling by the wayside as kids are increasingly more engaged with their screens.
In the days before tablets, when television was the main means of screen time, kids would watch afternoon cartoons and then head outside to play. With the unlimited amount of content available on devices today—shows, games, apps—kids have no incentive to turn their screens off and perform physical activity.
Lack of physical activity at home, coupled with declining emphasis of physical activity in schools, make it so that kids are not getting the levels of exercise they need to stay healthy. Poor nutrition habits compound the issue, and from early onset, children are set up for failure in managing their long-term health, which can lead to a myriad of health concerns later on in life.
According to Science Daily, childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled in the past thirty years, and that is a concerning statistic. The earlier that children are exposed to obesity, the sooner medical complications such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome can occur. Medical experts also hypothesize that because children’s bodies are still growing and maturing, they may be more susceptible to the negative health effects of obesity.
Across Canada, many initiatives have been implemented to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Participaction, Active At School, and 60 Minutes Kids Clubare just a few that have been rolled out across the country. The goal is to engage children in more physical activity and to help them make healthier choices. The epidemic of childhood obesity is still fairly new, and as a result, there is not a wealth of statistics or data to know the full extent of childhood obesity in later life. Early intervention is key, because obesity is hard to cure once is has been established.