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, candy and desserts also can cause weight gain.
  • Lack of exercise. Children who don't exercise much are more likely to gain weight because they don't burn as many calories. Too much time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching television or playing video games, also contribute to the problem.
  • Family factors. If your child comes from a family of overweight people, he or she may be more likely to put on weight. This is especially true in an environment where high-calorie foods are 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.
  • Socioeconomic factors. People in some communities have limited resources and little access to supermarkets. As a result, they may opt for convenience foods that don't spoil quickly, such as frozen meals, crackers and cookies. In addition, people who live in lower income neighborhoods may not have access to safe places to exercise.
April 10, 2015