This Eid, Begin Fighting Childhood Obesity

After a month of abstinence and self-restraint, `Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated with festivities of food.

Sweet dishes frequently play a central role in these feasts with hours of preparation going into the making of creamy halva, crispy baklava drizzled with honey syrup, and other delectable pastries.

Adults are not the only ones who enjoy such treats, and it is often the children who indulge in them the most. Popular gifts for children are chocolates, candy, and other sweets.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many youngsters gain excess weight during this blessed holiday in particular.

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Worldwide Epidemic

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According to the reports of the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, childhood obesity is on the rise worldwide. The percentage of overweight children is due to increase dramatically in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

A child is considered obese when he or she is well-above the recommended weight for his or her height and age (USA Today).

Overweight children are at risk for and susceptible to diseases that were once only limited to adults (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other ailments). They are also more likely to be overweight through their adult years.

Obesity Contributors

Although genetics may play a part in contributing to childhood obesity, most children are overweight because they eat in excess and exercise too little (Mayo Clinic).

Growing up in the midst of a fast-food culture, where one-third of children in the US on any given day eat fast food, has contributed to this phenomenon. The high fat, salt, and sugar content in fast food add on unnecessary and mainly empty calories.

With the advent of unlimited refills of soft drinks, which fast-food chains promote, children are consuming a huge excess of sugary liquids, which are detrimental to their health.

Children who are regular consumers of fast foods fail to make healthy food choices and end up eating far less fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk than they ought to (Davis).

Leading a sedentary lifestyle is another factor that contributes to childhood obesity. As watching TV shows and playing video games increasingly replace outdoor play, children are becoming less and less active and thus are not able to burn off all the extra calories they consume.

Lack of direction and interest from parents is another important factor that causes unhealthy eating patterns in children.

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