What Are the Most Common Causes of Obesity in Children?

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Obesity is a complicated condition that arises when a person's weight exceeds what is considered healthy for their height. Obesity doesn't just affect adults but it can also affect children as well. According to the World Health Organization, 39 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2020. This may be concerning because excess weight can increase the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. For these reasons, it's important to understand what's contributing to childhood obesity.

Dietary Choices

Eating high-calorie items regularly such as fast food, baked goods, and vending machine snacks might lead a child to gain weight. Candy and pastries can also contribute to weight gain. Further, there is mounting evidence that sugary beverages, especially fruit juices and sports drinks, contribute to obesity in some children.

Lack of Exercise

Children who don't exercise regularly are more prone to weight gain since they don't burn as many calories as those who exercise regularly. An increase in activities that don't require much physical exertion such as watching television or playing video games can also cause weight gain.


Personal and family issues can contribute to a child's stress levels, which can increase cortisol. High cortisol levels can increase the chances of gaining weight and can make it difficult to lose weight as well. If your child is dealing with high levels of stress, it may be in their best interest for you to seek a counselor for them.

Socioeconomic Factors

Some Americans have limited resources and access to grocery stores depending on where they live. As a result, parents may choose nonperishable convenience items such as frozen dinners, crackers, and cookies. Furthermore, kids in low-income communities may lack access to a safe environment to exercise. This can all contribute to weight gain.

Illnesses and Medication

Some conditions, such as Cushing's disease, can cause obesity or an increase in weight. Some prescription medications, steroids, and antidepressants can raise the risk of obesity. Among them are prednisone, amitriptyline, paroxetine, lithium, gabapentin, and propranolol.

Obesity in children is often caused by a combination of the factors above. It's recommended to seek the opinion of your child's pediatrician to see what may be causing your child's weight gain and what you can do to help improve their health with nutritional counseling. As your child becomes an adult, they may seek a weight loss specialist. If you yourself are experiencing weight problems you'd like help with, contact Atlanta Medical Institute to schedule an appointment.

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