More children in developed countries are becoming overweight. This is a serious problem for wealthy countries. Discuss some causes and effects of this problem. Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

In virtually all developed countries around the world, rates of overweight and obesity have been rising alarmingly. This trend can be seen in all age groups, but is particularly worrying where children are concerned. Before looking at the consequences of childhood obesity, it is necessary to examine the various interconnecting causes. There is no one cause of obesity in children, but instead a variety of contributing factors. There is a growing body of evidence that certain genes predispose young people to be obese. However, environment and lifestyle still play a major role. Children today lead far more sedentary lives than those in the past; instead of playing sports and games outdoors they are more likely to spend their time sitting in front of a television or computer screen. Even though they use little energy, they consume large numbers of calories in the form of junk food and soft drinks, and these excess calories are likely to manifest as weight gain. Whatever the causes of juvenile obesity, the effects are extremely serious. People who have weight problems when they are children will in all likelihood have a lifelong struggle with their weight, which in turn can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. In some extreme cases they might not even make it to adulthood. There have been cases of children as young as eight suffering from heart attacks linked to obesity. To sum up, it is clear that obesity in children is one of the major health issues facing developed nations today. Unless governments make a serious investment in examining and dealing with both the genetic and environmental causes of this problem, it is one that is likely to grow.
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