Recent years have seen childhood obesity rates rise steadily worldwide, including Spain. In its latest 2022 report, Save The Children has ranked Spain in first place, together with Italy and Cyprus, for childhood obesity in Europe.
Over 28% of young people in Spain are overweight, and the data shows that this health issue is increasingly affecting younger children.
Consequences of childhood obesity
Childhood obesity may cause numerous health problems, some of which can be severe. These include:
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
- Increased cholesterol levels.
- Alterations in neurological and behavioural development.
- Psychological issues such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, anorexia or bulimia.
Causes of childhood obesity
Childhood obesity is a global affliction with numerous causes, the main ones being:
Malnutrition. Also referred to as “poor nutrition”, this is a serious condition that occurs when a diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients. A diet rich in fast food and processed food will contain an overabundance of sugars and fats, which can easily lead to obesity.
Sedentary lifestyles. Too much inactivity leads to a lack of calory consumption and eventual weight gain. In addition, a lack of physical exercise in childhood may produce a number of ramifications and health issues of its own, including the disruption of growth hormone secretion and endocrine problems.
Heredity. Genetic factors inherited at birth also play a part in a child’s metabolism and weight. It has been demonstrated that children of obese parents are more likely to suffer from obesity.
How can childhood obesity be prevented?
The causes and solutions to obesity in children and adults are very similar. However, with regards to children, it is vitally important that parents take the lead in buying healthy food and model healthy lifestyles.
Nutrition. Parents are responsible for the contents of the household fridge and pantry, and in this way, they should try to ensure their children eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. In addition, parents typically find it helpful when they follow weakly meal plans as well as raise their kids’ awareness of health and nutrition.
Sport. Sport not only helps burn calories, but children need physical activity to keep their bones and muscles strong and healthy. It is important for parents to model and encourage this behaviour, so why not try family friendly sports and activities such as cycling or hiking.