We are learning more and more about the role that genetics plays in a child’s weight. In fact, the biggest predictor of having a child with weight issues is when parents also have weight issues. Diabetes during pregnancy and large weight gain during pregnancy can even modify the developing child’s genes, making it even more difficult for the child to manage their weight later in life.
Behaviors are thought to be an important part of the development of obesity. Eating behaviors such as large portion sizes, unhealthy food types, eating meals away from home and drinking sugar-rich beverages are some of the contributors to gaining weight. Physical activity, or lack of it, is an important factor in determining how many calories are spent or stored in the body as fat. Children are just not as active as they used to be. Video games, televisions, computers and mobile devices have replaced outdoor play and group sports. This is an important contributor to childhood obesity. Social norms also contribute to this problem. If your child eats the same way as his/her friends and has a similar body type, you may not think of him/her as suffering from overweight or obesity. Making an effort to change the family's eating behavior and monitoring your child's eating behavior are important changes in helping your child's weight.
Children are greatly influenced by their environment and by other children. What children do at school, in daycare, in afterschool programs and in the community affects what they eat and their physical activity level. Children spend long hours away from home and are learning some of their behaviors outside of the home.