Childhood Obesity: Causes And Effects


It is impossible to deny that good health is one of the most significant phenomena for people. When some health issues affect an individual, he or she suffers from compromised well-being, denoting that it is impossible to live fully-fledged lives. That is why it is of importance for people to take care of their health, and one should draw attention to this activity as early as possible. The rationale behind this statement is that problems that develop during childhood are more likely to result in adverse consequences in the future. This description refers to childhood obesity, which is a dangerous and widespread phenomenon. According to the World Health Organization (2021), this term stands for “an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health” (para. 2). Body mass index (BMI) is typically measured to assess whether a young individual has weight issues. In particular, children of 5-19 years old are considered having obesity if their weight is higher than two standard deviations above the accepted average value (World Health Organization, 2021). This explanation and the statistical value above ensure that the problem is severe and requires specific attention.

Simultaneously, additional statistical data proves that the issue is widespread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2022), 19.7% (14.7 million) of children and adolescents in the USA suffered from the issue in 2017-2020. This statistical value demonstrates that it is impossible to overestimate the need to prevent the problem. Thus, childhood obesity has many causes and effects, which denotes that parents and teachers should make children with obesity engage in regular physical exercise in school and at home to solve the problem.


A comprehensive approach should be utilized to determine what causes lead to childhood obesity. According to a scholarly and peer-reviewed article by Deal et al. (2020), there are many risk factors, and one can classify them into three groups based on the periods when they occur. These are prenatal, neonatal and infancy, as well as childhood and adolescence stages. Firstly, a child can be subject to obesity for a number of reasons, including parents’ obesity, exposure to antibiotics, maternal smoking, and diabetes (Deal et al., 2020). This information demonstrates that children’s health is formed until they have come into being.

Secondly, the first months of life can also contribute to the problem under analysis. Weight gain can occur if birth weight is over four kilograms, antibiotics are used for a long period, or a diet is full of added sugars (Deal et al., 2020). Thirdly, it is reasonable to consider the processes during childhood and adolescence since they can be impactful. In particular, these causes can be social, physical, and nutritional. Among social factors, poverty is the most influential one because it stipulates that children live in physically and emotionally disadvantaged conditions that promote obesity (Deal et al., 2020). Additional causes are more specific and include food insecurity and family stressors. As for physical factors, it is challenging to determine which one is the most impactful. This statement denotes that high screen time, poor sleep, and insufficient exercise contribute to the spread of the problem (Deal et al., 2020). Finally, an excessive intake of fat and sugar is a significant nutritional cause (Deal et al., 2020). This information reveals that many processes and phenomena result in the fact that a child suffers from excessive weight.

In addition to that, I can incorporate a few examples from my experience that prove the statements above. I know a guy who has not engaged in any sports activity during his life. Now, he suffers from being overweight and tries to solve the issue. Another example refers to my neighbors who gave birth to their daughter a few years ago. The family is in compromised economic conditions, which denotes that they do not have sufficient money to follow healthy diets. This scenario results in the fact that their child started gaining weight and currently suffers from the problem.

Other scholars utilize a narrower approach to find a cause of childhood obesity. In particular, Han et al. (2020) conducted a scientific study to determine whether proximity to fast food could lead to childhood obesity. According to the authors, they have found credible evidence demonstrating that obesity rates were higher among those children who lived closer to fast food locations (Han et al., 2020). Some critics can state that this suggestion is not appropriate because fast food restaurants are widespread almost in every state, but it is challenging to argue with facts. This finding is significant because it demonstrates that environmental factors can be critical in causing the problem under analysis. The authors stipulate that children tend to attend such locations on their way home from school. It is not reasonable to underestimate this evidence because it reveals that fast-food chains and various franchises are harmful to children and, therefore, dangerous for the future of the entire nation.

The information above has represented different approaches to defining the causes of childhood obesity. On the one hand, Deal et al. (2020) relied on a comprehensive analysis and identified multiple risk factors that contribute to the problem collectively. On the other hand, Han et al. (2020) stated that a single aspect could be a significant cause. Even though the study by Han et al. (2020) offered valuable and credible conclusions, it seems that a comprehensive approach is more appropriate. Childhood obesity is a complicated problem, and it is challenging to believe that limiting children’s access to fast-food restaurants can completely solve the issue. This strategy can reduce the prevalence, but harmful food can come from other sources. That is why it is challenging to deny that many essential aspects contribute to the spread of childhood obesity.


Since a significant part of the US population suffers from the health issue under review, it is reasonable to look at what effects it brings. The focus on potential consequences is needed because it can demonstrate whether urgent responses are required to protect people. As for childhood obesity, it is possible to divide its effects into two groups. They are physical and psychological causes, and each of the groups should receive sufficient attention.

On the one hand, physical consequences are more evident and straightforward. Since an organism is forced to deal with excessive weight, some of its processes witness additional challenges that lead to specific problems. According to Deal et al. (2020), adverse effects impact neurological, pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, reproductive, and musculoskeletal systems performance. Thus, specific consequences are versatile, and they include hypertension, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, asthma, orthopedic disorders, stroke, and certain cancers (Deal et al., 2020). This information demonstrates that it is impossible to underestimate the role that obesity plays for every child who deals with it. Since many systems are impacted negatively, children with an excessive weight typically request medical services more often. This state of affairs results in a higher financial burden for their parents. Moreover, Deal et al. (2020) indicate that childhood obesity can result in health issues that will finally lead to adult mortality. Thus, various scholars and healthcare professionals highlight the danger of physical consequences that can be brought by the issue under analysis.

On the other hand, childhood obesity can result in psychological or mental consequences. The given condition makes children understand that they are different from others and limits their abilities. For example, it is not a rare occasion when children with obesity have difficulties finding friends. That is why it is not surprising that many mental health issues arise as consequences. In particular, they are depression, stress, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and poor health (Chu et al., 2019). It is impossible to deny that these conditions harmfully impact young individuals and their development. If a child deals with depression at school, it is likely that this person will be subject to harmful effects of the same mental condition being an adult. In fact, many psychological problems find their origin in childhood, which justifies the fact that many scholars draw their attention to these phenomena. Children with obesity are suitable subjects for such studies because these individuals are subject to various harmful effects.

Simultaneously, examples from my life can help understand why the issue is a big problem. I know a few children with this condition, and all of them feel depressed and isolated. As for adults, they can also experience some difficulties having romantic relationships. Among people with obesity whom I know, each individual has other health problems that have emerged because of their extra weight. That is why it is impossible to underestimate the negative effects of the phenomenon.

This information demonstrates that childhood obesity is associated with multiple adverse consequences. Since the problem is associated with excessive weight, it is not surprising that significant physical health problems are prevalent. Obesity creates many difficulties, meaning that people and their organisms are forced to spend more energy dealing with this body condition. That is why it is not a rare case that children with obesity are subject to multiple comorbidities. Simultaneously, it is not reasonable to ignore subtle consequences that refer to psychological issues. Mental health problems are also important because they can significantly affect children’s development. Depression, anxiety, difficulties finding friends, and even social isolation are sometimes closely linked to childhood obesity. It is now impossible to state which group of effects is more significant or harmful because all of them negatively affect children and their well-being. The impact even becomes higher when multiple issues influence a single child.

Feasible Solution

The information above demonstrates that a timely and appropriate response is required. Since the selected problem affects many children, various stakeholders should find a solution to the issue. Thus, parents, teachers, and other involved individuals should join efforts to determine what specific intervention can protect children’s health. According to the available scientific data, subjecting young individuals to regular physical exercises can be considered a feasible solution.

One should admit that it is possible to use different methods to implement the suggested intervention, and school-based exercises seem a suitable option since children and adolescents spend much time at school. Consequently, they can use it profitably and engage in the sports activity. Duncombe et al. (2022) have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effectiveness of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) programs in combating childhood obesity. That is why the researchers have located and analyzed 54 credible studies that, in turn, focused on the impact of physical exercise on various health outcomes. In particular, Duncombe et al. (2022) have focused on the effects of running, cycling, jumping, throwing, and other activities and identified that they contributed to various improved consequences. In particular, they are reduced waist circumference, body fat percentage, and body mass index (Duncombe et al., 2022). Teachers should be actively involved in this intervention, meaning that physical education lesson plans should be changed to ensure that children with obesity are engaged in those activities that can address their condition.

This intervention should be implemented at a state level, which denotes that state health departments should develop exercise guidelines for schools. These recommendations should specify what exercises are appropriate for children based on their abilities. Thus, teachers can rely on these guidelines to ensure that the suggested interventions are suitable for children and provide the latter with positive impacts that can lead to losing weight.

Simultaneously, schools are not the only environments that are suitable to address the problem under analysis. Children and adolescents also spend much time at home with their parents, and it is reasonable to ensure that the latter participate in addressing the problem. According to Bülbül (2020), it is useful to subject children with obesity to various exercise types, including aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening, and extension. Specific exercises include running, cycling, weightlifting, walking, team sports, and gymnastics (Bülbül, 2020). Since these activities do not require specific skills and specialized equipment, young individuals can easily do them at home or outdoors.

The only requirement is that children should allocate 20-60 minutes a few times a week to exercise regularly. However, one should state separately that young individuals are unlikely to engage in systematic exercises because they do not have sufficient motivation. That is why parents should control their children and ensure that they practice regularly. This statement denotes that state health departments should create exercise plans and distribute them among teachers and parents. In this case, adults will join their efforts to help children lose weight. Consequently, the responsibility is placed on adults since they should better understand the importance of this intervention and deliver this information to their sons and daughters.

The identified evidence demonstrates that there are many interventions that can help reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. On the one hand, school-based responses are effective because children and adolescents spend much time in these establishments. That is why physical education lessons should be restructured to ensure that students with the given condition engage in appropriate activities that help them lose weight. On the other hand, home-based interventions are also required to solve the problem. Parents are expected to make their children participate in regular exercises at home and outdoors. However, one cannot state which approach is the most effective. That is why it could be better to ensure that a versatile approach is utilized, meaning that home and school-based interventions are used simultaneously. As has been mentioned, specific exercise plans will provide these adults with recommendations on how they can make reasonable contributions to solving the problem. It is possible to expect that if children engage in physical exercise in school and at home, better outcomes can be reached.

Concluding Thoughts

The report has comprehensively analyzed the issue of childhood obesity and made a few reasonable conclusions based on scientific evidence. It has been found that versatile behaviors and conditions can be considered contributing factors, while the condition leads to multiple adverse effects. Thus, the paper has devoted a sufficient section of the paper to discussing a feasible solution. According to the available literature, a suitable and effective option is to make children with obesity involved in regular physical exercise. This intervention requires the efforts of many stakeholders, including parents and school teachers, because it can be implemented in school and home-based environments. In practice, such interventions can be practiced in physical education lessons, at home, and outdoors. Suitable activities include cycling, running, jumping, team sports, walking, and weightlifting. It is challenging to state which approach or which activity is the most effective. That is why a reasonable strategy is to solve the problem comprehensively.


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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Childhood obesity facts

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Duncombe, S. L., Barker, A. R., Bond, B., Earle, R., Varley-Campbell, J., Vlachopoulos, D., Walker, J. L., Weston, K. L., & Stylianou, M. (2022). School-based high-intensity interval training programs in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS ONE, 17(5), e0266427.

Han, J., Schwartz, A. E., & Elbel, B. (2020). Does proximity to fast food cause childhood obesity? Evidence from public housing. Regional Science and Urban Economics, 84, 103565.

World Health Organization. (2021). Obesity and overweight.