A study was done in the United Kingdom that indicated that childhood obesity was caused by different things according to the age of the child. The study also showed that children responded to different influences on their obesity as they age.

The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity in April of 2015.

Obesity in the pre-adolescent years

During the pre-adolescent years, most obese children were directly influenced by their parents and immediate family. Children of this age usually eat whatever foods are normally served at the family dinner table. Their food likes and dislikes are molded by the parent’s choices in foods to serve them.

Children of this age who do become obese can be helped to make lifestyle changes by their family making the same lifestyle changes with them. At this age children look up to their parents and they want to please their parents more than anything else. If the parent is encouraging, and willing to make the food changes with the child, then they can help the child to change the way they eat, and to lose weight.

At this age, the parent is also the biggest exercise motivator. The parent can go outside and play with the child. The parent controls how much television is watched and how many hours of video games the child is allowed to play.

Early Adolescence

During early adolescence, the parents begin to have less influence on the obese child and the peers and friends of the child gain influence. Many times children who are obese are ridiculed by other children and although you might think that this ridicule would cause the child to lose weight, it often causes the obese child to eat more in an attempt to deal with anger issues, and hurt feelings.

Children between the ages of 13 and 17 who are obese, and have friends are more likely to slim up without noticing that they are making real changes. These children are active socially, and they often eat less, or they choose to eat more fruits, vegetables, and drink more water.

Children who are of the same age, but have few, or no friends, often become more obese because they are lonely, depressed, and they feel like they are worth less than their peers.

What doctors can learn from this

Doctors can take the results of this study and use them to help their young patients lose the weight they need to lose, and gain the confidence they need for life.

Doctors can talk to their patients and find out what their social life is like, and what their school life is like. They can then recommend to the parent that they help the child to join groups, or activities that will help them to make friends who will be uplifting, supportive, and positive role models.

Education is a key element to weight loss, but reactions to peers, families, and life events are also major contributors to weight gains and losses.