Dietary Causes in Childhood obesity

The effects of eating habits on childhood obesity are difficult to determine. A three year randomized controlled study of 1,704 3rd grade children which provided two healthy meals a day in combination with an exercise program and dietary counseling’s failed to show a significant reduction in percentage body fat when compared to a control group. This was partly due to the fact the even though the children believed they were eating less their actually calorie consumption did not decrease with the intervention. At the same time observed energy expenditure remained similar between the groups. This occurred even though dietary fat intake decreased from 34% to 27%. A second study of 5,106 children showed similar results. Even though the children eat an improved diet there was not effect found on BMI. Why these studies did not bring about the desired effect of curbing childhood obesity has been attributed to the interventions not being sufficient enough. Changes were made primarily in the school environment while it is felt that they must occur in the home, the community, and the school simultaneously to have a significant effect.

Soft drink consumption may contribute to childhood obesity. In a study of 548 children over a 19 month period the likely of obesity increased by 1.6 for every increase in soft drink consumed per day.

Eating at fast food restaurants has become prevalent among young people with 75% of 7 to 12 grade students consuming fast food in a given week. Some literature has found a relationship between fat food consumption and obesity. Including a study which found that fast food restaurants near schools increases the risk of obesity among the student population.

Whole milk consumption verses 2% milk consumption in children of one to two years of age had no effect on weight, height, or body fat percentage. Therefore whole milk continues to be recommended for this age group. However the trend of substituting sweetened drink for milk has been found to lead to excess weight gain.