Child Obesity Due To Genetic Inheritance or A Medical Condition?
Does Obesity Run in Families? Is obesity hereditary? Are you going to be large, overweight and suffer the afflictions and diseases associated with being obese if your parents or grandparents were? Unfortunately, in many cases obesity is a family affair. Incredibly, obesity is common in friendships and other close personal relationships as well. Let’s take a closer look at just how your ancestry affects your body weight, and see if there is anything you can do about it.
DNA and Chocolate Cake – Understanding the Obesity/Genetic Link
Countless studies have shown that there is a definite link between your risk of becoming obese and having overweight or obese parents. The way your body stores fat and burns calories when you eat chocolate cake or any other food is closely related to your genetic ancestry. How your body converts food into energy is also a process which can be a result of your DNA.
The Family Lifestyle Impact
Even if genetics played little to no role in deciding your body weight, your family’s lifestyle certainly does. If your parents lead a sedentary life, suffer from poor nutrition and do not put a big priority on exercise, you will grow up in inherently learning those lessons. The simple fact is that families tend to enjoy similar lifestyle habits, including exercise and nutrition.
Can Your Fat Friends Can Make You Obese As Well?
Aside from an increased risk of obesity through family relationships, your sedentary friends can have a negative impact on your health as well. Studies have shown that people with a few obese friends are much more likely to be obese themselves. This could be because obese friends were each raised by overweight parents, and naturally tended to bond because of similar interests and social factors as they were growing up.
Can The Genetic/Obesity Relationship Be Defeated?
The Mayo Clinic reports that, ultimately, environmental and personal factors are responsible for you being obese, overweight or at a healthy body weight. Their research shows that even with a “genetic predisposition” towards obesity, your lifestyle will eventually be the determining factor in whether or not you are healthy and fit.
This is because, for most people, nutrition determines from 50% to 60% of their level of physical fitness and health. That is how incredibly important eating right is, especially if you are battling a hereditary obesity history. Drink lots of water, and exercise 2.5 hours each week. Walk instead of sitting whenever you have the opportunity. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and non-processed foods over sugar-filled, salty, processed fast foods, drinks and sweets. Proper diet and exercise can keep you slim and trim, fit and healthy, even if everyone in your family is overweight or obese.
Could A Medical Condition Be Behind My Child’s Obesity?
Could some type of medical condition or illness be causing your child to be obese? Before we can answer that question, the actual definition of childhood obesity needs to be understood. The Mayo Clinic and other respected health organizations define childhood obesity as:
“A serious medical condition that occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height.”
The best way to discover whether your child weighs more or less than average is to consult a “BMI percentile calculator for kids”. Simply type that term into Google or some other search engine. You will find several free online resources which explain your child’s BMI percentile. (ex. A score of 90 or 95 means your child is more overweight than 90% or 95% of all children his age and height, which qualifies for obesity).
If you find that your child is obese, could a medical condition be causing it? A poor diet and lack of exercise can definitely cause obesity in children. Your lifestyle when you are pregnant also directly relates to whether your child will be overweight or not. And while uncommon, some medical conditions and ailments can actually increase your child’s chances of becoming obese.
These Medical Conditions Can Cause Obesity in Children
These are usually linked to genetics and heredity. For instance, hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is underactive. This means that it does not correctly control metabolism, which can lead to overweight and obesity. A simple thyroid checkup can identify this problem. Prader-Willi syndrome is another genetically linked disorder. This can cause an uncontrollable urge to eat that is created when the brain incorrectly understands when your child’s body is hungry or full.
Cushing’s syndrome is a medical condition which is sometimes caused by medications prescribed for asthma sufferers. This disorder means that your body receives too much exposure to the hormone cortisol. This can also come from a biological or genetic problem which causes your adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. The side effect is weight gain and possibly obesity.
Aside from those few medical conditions, there are not too many more illnesses or diseases which cause childhood obesity that a balanced diet, plenty of water and frequent exercise cannot positively impact. Children in low income neighborhoods and those frequently suffering from stress and anxiety also run a higher risk of obesity than average. Keep your child mentally and physically active, provide a healthy, loving and stress-free environment, and you give him a great opportunity at enjoying a healthy body weight.
How Your Lifestyle During Pregnancy Can Affect Your Child’s Weight
Moms-to-be are now more intelligently informed than ever before concerning pregnancy and childbirth. This means most pregnant women are aware of how their lifestyle choices during this important time can affect so many aspects of their child’s life. A healthy birth weight has been directly linked to fewer health problems as a child, teen and adult. That is why it is extremely important to understand what lifestyle activities negatively affect your child’s birth weight, as well as their weight as a child.
Your Unborn Child is Eating What You Are Eating
If you have ever been pregnant, you know that sometimes you crave the weirdest food combinations. That is because your child is not getting some minerals or nutrients that it needs, or is depleting your personal supply. They need to be replenished, and fast. So your body sends your brain a signal that says, “Eat ice cream, anchovies and a cheeseburger.”
Those particular eating habits directly affect the weight of your child. A research team from Singapore, New Zealand and the UK proved that, while revealing some startling information. 317 mothers and children were monitored for 9 years, from pregnancy to birth and early childhood. Pregnant women that ate few carbohydrates during early pregnancy were more likely to give birth to children with a tendency to have a greater than average body fat for their age.
So it is very important for you as a pregnant woman to eat a balanced diet, full of carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Limiting any one of these necessary food types impacts your child’s weight. A study from the University of Southampton reveals a very similar relationship.
Pregnancy Diet, Not Mom’s Weight, Dictates Childhood Obesity Risk
In the study, it made little difference whether a pregnant woman was fat or skinny. What dictated a drastically heightened risk for obesity in a child, even 6 or 9 years after birth, was an unbalanced diet. Since smoking and drinking alcohol directly affect your level of nutrition, they also negatively impact not only the birth weight of your child, but also his risk of being overweight or obese as both a child and adult.
Learning disabilities, heart problems and birth defects are well known side effects of a pregnancy where the mother-to-be smokes and/or drinks alcohol. Smoking can even lower your possibility of becoming pregnant in the first place. If you insist on smoking while you’re pregnant, your child has an increased risk of being born with a low to dangerously low birth weight.
Smoking during pregnancy also raises the risk that your child will be obese, even as an adult. Alcohol abuse, enjoying more than 3 to 5 drinks a week, can also lead to a heightened rate of childhood obesity that continues into adult years.
The choices you make now, while you are pregnant, affect the chemical processes going on inside your body. Those processes are what your unborn child depends on to stamp its chemical and physiological makeup. Eat balanced meals, stop smoking, and keep the drinking to a minimum or cut it out altogether to give your child the best chance at a healthy birth weight, and a decreased chance of becoming obese as a child and adult.