The Childhood Obesity Epidemic - Causes and Health Risks
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The Childhood Obesity Epidemic - Causes and Health Risks

preschooler's risk of obesity jumps 6% for every hour... ...brand recognition is strong even from the age of three...

Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in North America and throughout the world. Approximately 26 per cent of Canadian children ages 2-17 years old, are either overweight or obese. There are similar trends on the rise in many other countries, as governments scramble to raise public awareness on this rising health crisis.

According to Health Canada, there are two main factors contributing to the obesity epidemic:

1. Screen time – The amount of time a child or youth spends on a screen, which includes TV shows/movies, computer, home game systems, portable game systems, and cellular devices. The average “screen time” for a child or youth between the ages of 2-17 is 4-6 hours per day.

  • This is far too much, according to Health Canada, which recommends that children and youth should spend no more than one hour per day of “screen time.”
  • As a result of the high “screen time,” children and youth are getting a lot less daily activity, which has contributed largely to the obesity epidemic.

2. Sugar sweetened drinks (SSDs) – Health Canada researchers have found a significant link between childhood obesity and the consumption of SSDs like juice and soda.

  • To combat this problem, the Canadian government is pushing for stricter regulations on advertisements of SSDs that are targeted at children and youth. Research shows that brand recognition is strong even from the age of three and up, which has been found to be a factor in determining what the child’s drink and food preferences are.
  • The Canadian government has recently released a major initiative to combat the epidemic through educating schools, childcare facilities, and parents about the health risks involved in childhood obesity. There have also been new guidelines established that will aid in maintaining a healthy weight in children and youth.

Some statistics to consider

According to Screensmart.ca founder Andrew Sykes:

• 1 in 4 Canadian children are overweight or obese.

• 50% of youth (5-17), are not active enough for optimal growth and development. 90% youth fail to meet the daily requirements of Canada’s Physical Activity Guide. Canadian kids 8-18 spend an average of 42 hours a week with media, versus 8.75 hours exercising.

• A preschooler's risk of obesity jumps 6% for every hour of TV watched per day, 31% if the TV is in their bedroom.

• The average child sees 40,000 commercials annually on broadcast TV alone. 80% of TV commercials are for fast food, candy, cereal, and toys. Kids see more than 250,000 commercials aimed at their appearance by age 17.

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Comments (2)

You have written a very important article about a very important topic.

An excellent piece of work

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