As obesity rates continue to rise, researchers struggle to comprehend the complexity of this non-discriminatory disease.
Many factors contribute and influence the severity of the disease that has been dubbed one of the most serious public health concerns of our century by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the adult population, everyday stressors can contribute to unhealthy lifestyle choices. An exhausting day at the office may override motivation for a sweaty session at the gym, and an early-morning meeting can have you snacking on donuts instead of making time for a balanced breakfast.
Obesity in adults is well studied. What is less explored is the fact that more and more Canadian toddlers are now considered obese—and the implica- tions are alarming.
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association’s Journal examined medical records from children and youth under the age of 20. Using growth standards and references from WHO for weight and height, this study is the first to present data showing that one in four Canadian toddlers under the age of two years old is overweight, obese or at risk of being so.
These findings are monumental. The study, which examined data from over 8,000 children, gives greater insight into childhood obesity, in particular for children under the age of two. A greater percentage of Canadian children are struggling with their weight than was previously thought.
Dr. Janis Randall Simpson, PhD, FDC,is a Registered Dietitian and Professor Emerita in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph. “This article presents very important data that have been lacking on the overweight and obesity status of Canadian toddlers and preschoolers,” she says. “AlthoughRecords are not nationally representative, they nevertheless offer the possibility for monitoring and surveillance of weight status. This is critical in this era of implementation and evaluation of programs to target the obesity epidemic in Canada.”
If these findings are indicative of the future of the Canadian population and its health, drastic changes must occur in the way we view food and nutrition education. So much childhood obesity means that overweight children will face greater health challenges later in life, including increased risk of serious disease and decreased quality of life.
Shifting our focus to young children, as well as to the issue of malnutrition, will increase public awareness of childhood obesity, reducing the rate of national obesity and producing a healthier, happier Canadian population.
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Author: Sina Woerthle, M.Sc. is an occasional contributor to Optimyz Magazine, print and digital editions. She’s based in Ontario, Canada.