What’s caused the rise in children obesity rates?

An interesting story came from the Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Indiana, which is about halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago. The title of the story is Child obesity rate soaring. With a title like that I expected another boring article rehashing the same thing. I was wrong.

The article quotes Pauline Shen of the Tippecanoe County Health Department.  She has tracked child obesity rates in the area for several years and has seen an increase in childhood obesity. Now, I wish they would have said how many years, but you take what you can get.


According to the article:

But even Shen said it’s hard to pinpoint a single cause for the problem in today’s culture of super-sizing, eating on the go and “vegging” in front of television and video games.


Interesting. We know that obesity is caused in 99% of the cases by taking in more calories than you expend over a great amount of time. Yet, Shen says:

We need to introduce kids to better health habits.


I hate to see this, because it ignores the number one thing that kids aren’t today, and that is active. The kids of today no longer play outside, engage in hard exercise or even get up to change the channel. Laugh all you want, but camping out in front of the TV is easier when you have over 100 channels to choose from and you can easily switch.

The reasons, I believe, there is a children obesity epidemic:

  1. High fructose corn syrup. It’s in everything children are exposed to. Look at the labels and you’ll see.
  2. Lack of physical activity. See above.
  3. Lack of being forced outside. This is due to the distractions in the house, but also by parents who are afraid of letting their kids go out and play. It wasn’t too long ago that parents forced their kids to go out and play.
  4. Disinterested parents. Parents seem to be more of the pleasing kind than the enforcement kind. This leads to kids being able to slide when they get heavy.

Shen is right there are multiple causes, but the problem is with the parents and not the children.