Last November I completed my comprehensive exams at the University of Ottawa, which involved writing 2 comprehensive reviews on areas related to my research. One of those topics was “Potential Contributors to the Canadian Pediatric Obesity Epidemic”, and I was fortunate to have my article on the topic accepted for publication in the journal ISRN Pediatrics earlier this month. While the article is nominally focused on Canada, the conclusions apply equally to other developed nations.
I find this area to be a really fascinating topic, so I thought it would be fun to turn it into a week-long series of posts. Next Monday-Thursday, I will examine 2-3 potential contributors to the childhood obesity epidemic each day. On Friday, I thought it might be fun to discuss other potential contributors that I omitted from the paper for one reason or another.
Here are the topics that I covered in my review:
- Reduced sleep
- Reduced physical activity
- Increased total energy intake
- Increased fat intake
- Increased sedentary time
- Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals
- Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
- Inadequate calcium intake
- Increased maternal age
- Reduced breastfeeding
- Increased adult obesity rates
If anyone has suggestions for topics that they think I might have overlooked, feel free to post it in the comments section below. Keep in mind that the focus is on factors that could increase obesity rates at the population level, not just factors that can predispose an individual to weight gain. This issue has been dealt with previously in a paper focused on adults, and I have followed their definition for how to determine whether something is a potential contributor to the pediatric obesity epidemic:
…we offer the conclusion that a factor (e.g., X) that has contributed to the epidemic will logically follow acceptance of two propositions: (1) X has a causal influence on human adiposity and (2) during the past several decades, the frequency distribution of X has changed such that the relative frequency of values of X leading to higher adiposity levels has increased. In the absence of countervailing forces, if both propositions are true, obesity levels will increase.
So feel free to add your suggestions in the comments, or to get a jump start by reading the paper itself, which is available here.
Have a great weekend!