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    Causes of Obesity
    One way to see if your kids are at high risk for obesity is by looking at the risk factors around them. How many risk factors are present around your child?

    1. Television.
    The boob tube is practically an obesity factory, in so many ways.

    First, when you’re watching television, you’re completely sedentary. Much of the time, even your mind is not working. You’re hardly burning any calories. Do that a few hours every day and it will be no surprise that you get fat.

    Second, when we watch television, a lot of us like to eat at the same time. It’s not like using the computer, where you need to keep your fingers clean so you don’t end up with a sticky mouse and keyboard. With a television in front of you, it’s just too easy to keep shoveling food into your mouth. Before you know it, you’ve eaten far too much.

    Third, there’s the TV commercials. All those yummy-looking (high-calorie) sandwiches can be yours if you just dial a certain five-digit number. Or how about all those refreshing (high-sugar) drinks – not only will they cool your body, they’ll also “bring excitement to your life!” After seeing all those food commercials on television, do you think your kids will want plain water with vegetables and rice for dinner? Don’t count on it.

    2. Poor menu choices.
    What do you have in your kitchen cupboards and refrigerator? Do you have fruits and veggies, low-fat milk, nuts, unsweetened cereal, and whole wheat bread? Or do you have cans of soda, bags of chips, hotdogs, ice cream, and sugar-coated corn flakes? What you have in your house is what your kids will eat when they are at home.

    What about when they’re at school? It’s unrealistic to expect you to spy on what the school cafeteria serves. If that information is not provided to you by the school, play it safe by packing lunch for your kids and limiting their allowance so that, in case they do buy unhealthy food outside the house, they are at least limited by their budget.

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    (Related story: 5 Healthy Substitutes to Instant or Processed Food)

    3. Activity-limiting environment.
    It’s not just diet that causes obesity; it is also the lack of physical activity. And often, a child lacks exercise because the environment around the child discourages it. For instance, if you live in a house beside the highway, with no yard to speak of, you can’t really tell your child to play outside, can you?

    We’re not saying you ought to move to another neighborhood (although if you’re still looking for a place to live, this should certainly be part of your list of considerations). What we’re saying is that you need to be aware of the reasons why your child is forced to be sedentary, then find creative ways to help your child be active, with the resources that you have. Find a nearby playground with good security. Buy a jump rope or a hula hoop for your child (id somebody say “Nintendo Wii”?).

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    (Related story: Your Child and the Benefits of Early Physical Fitness)

    4. Disease and medication.
    Some health disorders such as Cushing’s disease, or medications such as steroids, cause weight gain that can lead to obesity. If your child seems to be gaining weight uncontrollably, it is wise to consult a doctor to be sure that no drug or hidden illness is making your child obese.

    5. Genes.
    Certainly, genes play a role in increasing one’s risk for obesity. Of course, you cannot change your bloodlines – but if you know your child has a predisposition towards obesity because of his/her genes, you can be doubly vigilant about preventing obesity through lifestyle choices.

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