Nowadays, the existence of such a problem as childhood obesity is strongly felt in modern society. According to A. S. Williams et al. (2018), the severity of the given issue is proved by the fact that approximately one-third of all American children or adolescents is either overweight or obese. The excess of fat does both exert pressure and workload on the joints, organs, and heart and interferes with physical activity, which may be crucial in maintaining a healthy and strong body. Parent education and their competent attitude may be crucial in solving the given issue since parents may be the only people who are able to influence their children’s lifestyles.
Multiple factors and reasons are associated with childhood obesity, including socioeconomic status that influences the risk factors of children being overweight. The general family environment may explain why kindergarten-aged children are obese. Such factors as single parenting, family income, parents’ nutrition and physical activity, and lifestyle behaviours; and child factors, age, gender, depressive symptoms, or psychological distress may influence children’s health (Williams et al., 2017, p. 2). If the family ambiance is unfavourable, children’s stress levels may increase, which consequently results in their health condition. In the research, Williams et al. (2018, p. 514) stated that “parental smoking increased the risk of a child being overweight or obese by 40%, and eating dinner as a family reduced the odds of a child being overweight or obese by 4%.” The given lifestyle habits, especially parental smoking and not eating dinner as a family, may influence children’s weight.
Childhood obesity might have physical and psychological consequences throughout life. According to Chi et al. (2017), physical consequences include increased risk for elevated intraocular pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases, obstructive sleep apnea, upper extremity fractures, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. Along with physical aftermath, psychological consequences may be manifested as well, which may have an equally adverse effect. Psychosocial consequences include weight-related discrimination, bullying, depression, and low quality of life (Chi et al., 2017). If obesity remains in adulthood, consequences may reveal the excessive need for the health-care-delivery system, increased health care spending, and even early mortality.
The proliferation of overweight and obesity among children remains adverse. In their research, Enö Persson et al. (2018, p. 99) stated that “according to the World Health Organization, children’s obesity may be one of the most relevant and urgent health issues of the 21st century.” Therefore, such a health challenge should be treated promptly and efficiently. Parents may be the only ones who might influence their children’s condition and implement healthy eating habits into their children’s diet. However, an appropriate diet may not be the only way to improve children’s weight conditions. Mental health and mindfulness development may also influence family members’ health. According to Jastreboff et al. (2018), developing mindfulness relationships may help parents to reduce their stress, to better tolerate children’s behaviors without overreacting, and to be more caring toward children’s needs and health issues. The more trusting relationships within the family are, the fewer stress children experience, the amount of which may affect children’s eating habits. Consequently, the inability to cope with stress along with an inappropriate and unhealthy diet may induce overeating, which results in childhood overweight.
Being overweight in childhood may adversely affect the individual’s future life, including his physical activity, overall health condition, self-esteem, and life expectancy. Chronic stress may affect an individual’s food preference, healthful decisions, and habits by altering brain reward and motivation circuits (Jastreboff et al., 2018). So, shaping an appropriate and healthy diet, family ambiance, and parent education may be crucial in childhood obesity treatment and prevention.
Chi, D. L., Luu, M., & Chu, F. (2017). A scoping review of epidemiologic risk factors for pediatric obesity: Implications for future childhood obesity and dental caries prevention research. Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 77, S8–S31.
Enö Persson, J., Bohman, B., Tynelius, P., Rasmussen, F., & Ghaderi, A. (2018). Prevention of childhood obesity in child health services: Follow-Up of the primrose trial. Childhood Obesity, 14(2), 99–105.
Jastreboff, A. M., Chaplin, T. M., Finnie, S., Savoye, M., Stults-Kolehmainen, M., Silverman, W. K., & Sinha, R. (2018). Preventing childhood obesity through a Mindfulness-Based parent stress intervention: A randomized pilot study. The Journal of Pediatrics, 202, 136–142.e1.
Williams, A. S., Ge, B., Petroski, G., Kruse, R. L., McElroy, J. A., & Koopman, R. J. (2018). Socioeconomic status and other factors associated with childhood obesity. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 31(4), 514–521.
Williams, S. L., van Lippevelde, W., Magarey, A., Moores, C. J., Croyden, D., Esdaile, E., & Daniels, L. (2017). Parent engagement and attendance in PEACHTM QLD – an up-scaled parent-led childhood obesity program. BMC Public Health, 17(1).