Abstract:Childhood obesity is now being recognised as a global epidemic. Children in developed or industrialised countries, such as the UK and US currently demonstrate high levels of overweight and obesity. The rise in childhood obesity is likely due to a complex set of interactions across a number of relevant social, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Each of these factors play pivotal roles on their own, and each requires their own interventions. In general, overweight and obesity are assumed to be the result of the excessive intake of the type of calories, fat, and sugar that are commonly found in soda drinks and purchased in "fast food" outlets. These convenience foods are becoming increasingly popular not just in industrialised nations, but in the developing world as well, causing a rise in obesity rates all around the world. Most researchers agree that prevention is the key strategy for controlling the current epidemic of obesity. Prevention may include primary prevention of overweight or obesity, secondary prevention or prevention of weight regains following weight loss, and avoidance of additional weight increase in obese persons unable to lose weight. Prevention may be achieved through a variety of interventions, such as by targeting the built environment, through physical activity, and by changing the individuals diet. Some of these strategies can be adapted for children and implemented in preschool institutions, schools, or after-school care services, providing a natural setting for influencing diet and physical activity. Furthermore, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are now being used to prevent childhood obesity by generating school-level and neighbourhood environmental indicators, which can be useful in designing targeted interventions.
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