Q: My kids battle a weight problem and although I think they eat pretty well, their father is tall and weighs 220 pounds. Could their weight be due to genetics?
A: Yes, overweight does beget overweight. Children have an 80% chance of becoming overweight if both parents are overweight, a 40% chance if one parent is overweight, and only a 7% chance if both parents are lean. However, obesity rates are escalating far too fast for this epidemic to be caused by genetics.
In short, genetics may increase a childs susceptibility to obesity, but those ticking genes only explode into a serious weight problem with the help of habits. Most kids battling weight problems consume more calories than they burn. They're eating more fat, sugar, and processed calories and are moving less than any generation since the dawn of humankind.
Children who eat high-fat diets are the ones most likely to be fat. Low-fat diets help keep kids lean. Then there's the exercise issue. Gone are the days when kids walked to school, played hide and seek for hours, and rode their bikes until sundown. Today children sit, watch TV, play Nintendo, star at computer screens, all of which burns no more calories than taking a nap.
Whether your child is pudgy or down right too big for his britches, the best approach is common sense. Your child must learn to select nutritious, low-fat, low-sugar foods and to gear activity to his/her physical capability. As a parent, it's your responsibility to offer nutritious foods; it's your childrens responsibility which of those foods they eat.