A survey of more than 8,000 children, ranging from kindergarteners to third graders, found that television, family meals and neighborhood safety all play a role in the presence or absence of childhood obesity.
The survey examined eating and activity factors, and placed the children in three different groups:
- Those who were not overweight during kindergarten, but were overweight by third grade
- Those who became overweight during kindergarten, and remained so
- Those who were never overweight
Children who watched more television and ate fewer family meals were more likely to be overweight by first grade. If they also lived in neighborhoods considered unsafe for outdoor play, they were more likely to be overweight starting in kindergarten.
Two years ago I posted a checklist of seven risk factors for childhood obesity. This new study adds two more.
It's no surprise that an excessive amount of TV watching was a factor. And, in fact, fewer family meals (which generally also means less nutritious meals) and neighborhoods parents perceived weren't safe for outdoor play -- meaning no exercise time -- are also fairly obvious contributors to childhood obesity.
Other warning signs of childhood obesity include:
If you want to keep your children fit:
I believe this topic is so important that I wrote a book on it. In March I will be coming out with my next book, Generation XL, which is a comprehensive review of childhood obesity.
On Vital Votes, reader Kelli from Georgia adds: