What is energy imbalance, and what is its role in childhood obesity?

Updated: Feb 20, 2019
  • Author: Steven M Schwarz, MD, FAAP, FACN, AGAF; Chief Editor: Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP  more...
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Answer

During childhood and adolescence, excess fat accumulates when total energy intake exceeds total energy expenditure. This energy imbalance can result from excessive energy intake and/or reduced energy expenditure, the latter is usually a consequence of a sedentary lifestyle. This is particularly associated with excessive television viewing, excessive computer use, and insufficient physical activity. In infancy, excess fat deposition occurs when excess energy is provided, especially when the protein-to-energy ratio is altered. This is often seen when feedings are supplemented with additives such as carbohydrates or fat and protein content remains the same. In addition, one study reported an increased incidence of obesity at age 3 years in infants weaned to solid foods by 4 months. [10]


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