Childhood obesity is a major public health problem affecting children worldwide. Early strategies to address
this problem have focused largely on diet and exercise, with an emphasis on changing the health behavior of individuals.
Increasingly, experts recognize the impact of social factors such as neighborhood characteristics, child care and school
settings, access to supermarkets, and social policies on childhood obesity. This article provides an overview of the social
determinants of obesity from early childhood through adolescence. Clinicians and policy makers alike need to understand
the social context in which children live in order to 1) understand the risk factors for childhood obesity and the potential
barriers to acquiring good nutrition and engaging in physical activity, and 2) identify resources and potential solutions,
including novel policies and community initiatives, to this growing problem.
Keywords: Childhood obesity, healthy foods, social determinants, physical activity, active transportation
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