Can Parents Be Responsible For Childhood Obesity?

Parenting plays a most important role in the proper upbringing of a child. Parenting refers to all the activities that are enacted by parents while interacting with their child to facilitate physical, emotional, and behavioral health and well being throughout the child’s lifespan.

Parents play a major role in the development of the child’s healthy behaviors, especially behavior related to eating and activity. During childhood, children completely rely on their parents to structure their environment and promote healthy choices. Numerous studies have examined childhood obesity and they found out that childhood obesity has become a serious public health problem and almost one-third of the youth are overweight and suffering from obesity.

It is extremely important to prevent obesity during childhood as habits formed during childhood are frequently carried to adulthood.

What is Obesity?

In medical terms, obesity is defined as an accumulation of fat in the human body to such an extent that it affects normal body function. This persistent accumulation of fat results in weight gain.

In general terms, obesity is a condition that occurs when there is an increase in the intake of high-caloric food and a decrease in total physical activity. The severity of obesity depends on the total amount of fat and the total fat distribution in the human body.

There are two types of body fat – essential fat and storage fat. The essential fat is the fat in the body that is stored in the bone marrow, the heart, the lungs, and the muscles and this essential fat allows for normal functioning of the body. On the other hand, the stored fat is a fat that is stored in the subcutaneous tissues and this storage fat is the result of additional energy received through food.

What are the health consequences of childhood obesity?

Obesity is a topic of health concern for people of all ages but childhood obesity is a topic that requires immediate action. Obesity is a chronic condition that is associated with various other health problems and long-term exposure to its associated health problems increases the risk of facing complications. Childhood obesity leads to the development of various health issues at the early stage of life and as these children ages, the risk of developing complications increases to a great extent. Some health consequences of childhood obesity include:

  • Obesity is associated with developing asthma in early childhood.
  • Obese children are at increased risk of suffering from psychosocial problems and many different sleep disorders.
  • Also, obese children often have high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose levels. Hence, an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Childhood obesity has serious health consequences and the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased substantially. Actions to prevent childhood obesity need to be taken and the following are the tips I would like to give to all the parents out there, who are new to parenthood.

1. Healthy eating habits

Numerous studies have focussed on feeding practices and parent feeding style.  Feeding practices refer to parental behavior to manage their child’s dietary intake. Parenting style has been suggested to strongly influence child weight outcomes.

Promoting healthy eating habits are extremely important to maintain the overall well being of a child. What a child eats and how much he/ she eats is directly associated with the development of a child. In order to prevent childhood obesity, it is important to encourage healthy eating habits.

I recommend you to ensure that your child eats breakfast as breakfast allows your child to concentrate in a better way and have better muscle concentration. Provide your child with plenty of fruits, vegetable, and whole-grain products. Limit the intake of high-sweetened beverages and food items with high saturated fat. Also, encourage your child to stick to home and limit eating out.

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2. Stay active

Staying physically fit requires regular physical activity. Early childhood is a critical time for developing a healthy behavioral pattern. Staying active is important for a child’s health and development. In young children, lack of physical activity is associated with the development of various health complications including obesity.

During childhood, children spend most of their time with their parents and their parents act as a role model for them. In order to encourage children to stay active, parents should model healthy physical activity behaviors by being active themselves. Parents should interact with their children in physical activities such as walking, playing, riding and spending at least an hour for outdoor activities every day.

Teach your children and tell them about the health benefits of being active such as it helps in weight management, it strengthens the bones, improves mental health, and helps in improving the development of a child.  

3. Sleeping pattern

Do you know that too little sleep is strongly linked to weight gain?? Yes, in children too.

Numerous studies have focussed on the relationship between the sleeping pattern and obesity in children. They suggested that these two factors are strongly linked and bad sleeping habits trigger the symptoms of obesity.

It is important for parents to develop a  healthy sleep pattern for their children and set a schedule for them that allows enough time for sleep. Also, make your child understand the importance of sleep for a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep loss can lead to increased weight gain and an increased risk of obesity. One study showed that the risk of being obese increases with every hour of sleep loss.



Tags:  Causes of childhood obesity, Parents are the cause of childhood obesity, Role of Parents

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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.