Are babies born to be fat?
Are American children overweight because their parents are, because they eat too many calories, or is something else going on?
Researchers found babies who gain weight more rapidly than their peers in the first four months of life are more likely to be obese at age seven. Research believes the first few months of life are critical to the development of obesity. The study also confirmed previous research that showed breast fed babies tend to gain weight more slowly, and breastfeeding appears to protect against obesity.
There is an undeniable genetic component with regard to overweight and obesity. When the parent of a child under the age of three is obese, the child (even if thin) has a 30 percent chance of becoming obese later in life. Parental obesity more than doubles the child’s risk of becoming obese as an adult.
Researchers found children who were obese between ages six and nine had a 55 percent chance of being obese as adults. The risk increased to 67 percent when children were obese between ages 10 and 14.
Because children’s minds are like sponges, both good and bad messages about food and eating are absorbed from parents, television, and the culture. Religion, race and ethnicity all play an important role in a family’s food choices and eating habits. Parents serve as role models for behavior, and that extends to food and exercise. Often it is not until children go to college or are forced to cook for themselves that they realize how many diverse food choices exist.
Because they watch so many hours of television, children in America are bombarded with food advertisements in the media. The visual images make kids feel like they want to eat even when they are not hungry. These images can also distort the concept of normal portion sizes.