Many factors — usually working in combination — increase your child's risk of becoming overweight:

  • Diet. Regularly eating high-calorie foods — such as fast foods, baked goods and vending machine snacks — can easily cause your child to gain weight. Soft drinks containing sugar are a risk factor. Candy and desserts also can cause weight gain. Foods and beverages like these are high in sugar, fat and calories.
  • Lack of exercise. Children who don't exercise much are more likely to gain weight because they don't burn calories through physical activity. Inactive leisure activities, such as watching television or playing video games, contribute to the problem.
  • Family history. If your child comes from a family of overweight people, he or she may be more likely to put on excess weight, especially in an environment where high-calorie food is always available and physical activity isn't encouraged.
  • Psychological factors. Some children overeat to cope with problems or to deal with emotions, such as stress, or to fight boredom. Their parents may have similar tendencies.
  • Family factors. If many of the groceries you buy are convenience foods — such as cookies, chips and other high-calorie items — this can contribute to your child's weight gain. If you can control your child's access to high-calorie foods, you may be able to help your child lose weight.
  • Socio-economic factors. Foods that won't spoil quickly — such as frozen meals, crackers and cookies — often contain a lot of salt and fats. These foods are often less expensive or an easier option than fresher, healthier foods. In addition, people that live in a lower income neighborhood may not have access to a recreation facility or other safe places to exercise.
Feb. 15, 2014

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