The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased at an alarming rate worldwide. In 2010, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that over 42 million children under the age of five were overweight, making childhood obesity “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.” Over 35 million overweight children below the age of five live in developing countries.
Childhood obesity – and obesity in general – is caused by a number of factors including inactivity, unhealthy diet, lack of sleep, medication, and medical problems. However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about obesity.
It’s time to get the facts straight and learn the truth behind some of the more common childhood obesity myths:
Myth #1: Children will lose the “baby fat.”
Fact: A majority of overweight children during their preschool days are still overweight by the time they become teenagers. Most of them do not outgrow the problem. While childhood obesity doesn’t always lead to obesity in adulthood, it increases one’s risk if not prevented at an early stage.
Myth #2: Children with obesity genes will remain obese
Fact: Most people blame obesity on bad genes. Among children, “obese” means having a body mass index above the 95th percentile compared with children of the same age and gender. Recent studies show that genetic obesity can be prevented through exercise. According to a study by Dr. Ruth Loos, an obesity researcher at the Medical Research Council's Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, people with obesity genes can shed up to 40% of their extra weight through regular exercise.