Childhood obesity is one of the top concerns in children’s health today. The health condition not only affects the self and body image of the child but can lead to a higher risk of developing various complications in the future including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, kidney issues, and many others.
In addition to physical health problems, obese children are also likely to experience increased chances of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorder, and body dysmorphia.
Therefore, health experts recommend making children follow a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent obesity in the first place but the issue has only become more common in recent years instead of being controlled.
Besides, cases of childhood obesity are expected to rise further due to standard western diets which are not only high in unhealthy calories in the form of processed foods and sugary carbohydrates but provide insufficient nutrition.
Regardless of the various campaigns and initiatives that have contributed to raising awareness about obesity in both adults and children and its association with chronic diseases, it is becoming a bigger problem day by day.
At the moment, scientists state that the coronavirus pandemic and limitations on going outside may be contributing to rising in obesity levels overall as many adults and children are consuming microwavable meals and instant foods on a daily basis.
Furthermore, neither adults nor children engaging in a lot of physical activity while staying and spending most of their time at home.
However, a recent study conducted by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the New York University School of Global Public Health also shows a significant role on the internet and social media platforms in increasing childhood obesity levels.
More specifically, the researchers analyzed how YouTube videos showcase fast and junk food in a way that it promotes unhealthy eating and obesity in children.
In their analysis, they looked at the five most popular channels viewed by children which had four hundred and eighteen videos in total. These channels were also run by internet-famous children.
It was then found that nearly forty-three percent of videos were based on food and ninety percent of the food shown was unhealthy and low in nutritional value.
The most common foods that appeared in these videos were processed and junk foods. After these, sodas and candies were the most popular. Nearly all of the food was from well-known brands.
On the other hand, very few to none of the videos had children consuming healthy foods such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables, or yogurts in them.
The findings of the study, which appear in the journal Pediatrics, suggest that such showcasing of food in a world where food advertisements are common makes it even more difficult to encourage children to eat healthily.
Currently, YouTube is the second most used media platform in the world as many as thirty-four percent of the parents report that their children use it regularly.
Therefore, there is a need for better online spaces that promote healthy lifestyles and diets rather than supporting the consumption of foods that contribute to childhood obesity.