Causes of Obesity in Children


The past three decades have experienced considerable increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity not only among the children but also in the general population. The Global estimate of obese children stands at 170 million. The consequences of high prevalence of overweight and obesity is fatal, because, the condition increases the Body Mass Index of an individual. An increase in BMI is a key risk factor for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and various cancers that include oesophageal cancer, colorectal cancer and kidney cancer. Besides the fact that these diseases cause premature mortality, they are also responsible for long- term morbidity. Furthermore, overweight and obesity in children has a high association with significantly reduced quality of life and a greater risk of social seclusion, the victims of obesity are also likely to experience teasing and bullying. The high prevalence of the condition has made it a grave health challenge. This paper would discuss some of the causes of obesity in children.

Causes of Obesity in Children

Lifestyle Choice

American College of Sports Medicine states that obesity does not occur instantly. Its development is gradual, depending on lifestyle and eating habits on an individual. For instance, continuous consumption of processed and fast foods that are high in fats. Eating larger portions food than one needs. Eating out a lot and comfort eating that occurs when a child is depressed or suffering from low self-esteem is likely to contribute tremendously to weight gain. American College of Sports Medicine further emphasizes that Children exposed to this kind of lifestyle and poor eating habits would most probably be overweight, and obese because of the high calories in their consumption.

Sedentary Life

According to Better Health excessive inactivity and lack of physical activity, for example, television watching, browsing the internet and playing computer games is one of the major causes of obesity among children. Better Health elucidates that obese children seldom spend their time participating any physical activity weather mordant or arduous. Scholars have noted that the risk of obesity reduces by 10% every hour a child is engaged in any physical activity, on the other hand, the risk, the risk increases by 12% every hour a child spends on watching television, playing games or browsing the internet. Television watching or playing video games have contributed to weight gain not only because they displace the physical activity but also because watching television, playing video or computer games and browsing the internet, increase energy intake. The children are also likely to prefer the fast foods, soft drinks and sweets because of the constant exposure to advertisements from television and the internets. Such children have a high likely hood of preferring the advertised products.


Some genetic condition such as Prader- Willi syndrome causes cause obesity. When children inherit traits like slow metabolism or having large appetite, they are likely to be overweight because of the high consumption of food and slow burning of calories. Note that not all cases where by the condition runs in the family, would be attributed to genetics. Other factors such as environmental factors sometimes contribute to overweight and obesity, for instance, poor eating habits acquired from childhood.

Medical Reasons

Ebbeling et al. affirms that some medical conditions could cause weight gain, for example, when there is over production of steroid hormone because of Cushing’s syndrome, when thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) and some medicines like corticosteroids and antidepressants that may increase a child’s appetite.


Lastly, factors such as family problems, low self-esteem, depression and other emotional problems and medical illnesses like neurological problems could also contribute to weight gain and obesity. Obesity is avoidable and can be management by observing simple health tips like adopting healthy eating habits and exercising.