Genetics and junk food are both to blame for childhood obesity problem

Parents who are concerned about their kid's growing weight can breathe a little sigh of relief. Although it was previously thought that diet was the only thing to blame in the childhood obesity epidemic, new research has found that genetics play a key part in children gaining weight as well.

I can blame a lot of my own weight gain during childhood on a perpetual candy-and-soda habit. My mom would always lecture me about drinking less soda but she would still keep buying it. When I cut back, I did lose weight but it would just as easily creep back up later on. And it's no wonder: with much of my family being overweight (including both my parents), I was bound to gain weight easily.


Read more ¿Qué más? Childhood obesity ads may have gone too far, but it's a lesson Latinas need to learn.

The researchers used a genome-wide association technique to show that "several genetic variants associated with adult obesity are also active in childhood obesity." Basically, this means that the things that make us fat as adults are already there and affecting us in childhood, too.

But just because your kid has bad genes doesn't mean he or she is destined to gain weight, either. Since human genetics have not changed in the past few decades, researchers do point to the long-suspected environmental factors like more junkfood and less exercise as being major factors on why childhood obesity has grown so dramatically in the past few years.

Want to find other moms como tú? "Like" MamásLatinas on Facebook!

Okay, so it's not just us making kids fat but we also aren't entirely blameless. Although I'm not a parent yet, I know that my kids will face the same problem I did: being susceptible to gain weight easily because of their inherited genetics. But since I can't do anything about that, I will at least try to make sure they are eating healthier and moving more. We can't do everything to prevent childhood obesity but that's a good place to start.

Do you think your kids have a genetic predisposition to gaining weight? How will you help them avoid the childhood obesity problem?

Image via Ed Yourdon/flickr