Childhood Obesity In United States Essay Sample
United States faces a problem that victimizes more individuals than the drug abuse or smoking – child obesity. Nowadays, the rates of the child obesity have tripled since the seventies, so that one in three North American children is obese or overweighed. Obesity is both a social and a health issue problem, affecting children across the country, who become less sociable and develop various physical and psychical conditions. The lifestyle, eating habits, lack of parental involvement in the children’s development and the inappropriate or lack of educational and training programs for balancing children’s alimentation with physical activities are the main causes of the childhood obesity in United States. There are various solutions for preventing and ameliorating the childhood obesity, which focus on either revised diet, physical activity or both, with the family, school, and commitment’s involvement.
The obese and overweight children are more at risk of developing physical and psychological health problems than their normal peers, risking to develop into obese adults, giving birth to children who will consider obesity as normal (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 1). This proliferation of obesity generates a trend and the transfer of unhealthy activities that leads to further obesity from a generation to another. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (1) indicates that the causes for children obesity include “biological, behavioral, social, environmental, and economic factors and the complex interaction among these factors”. Wechsler, McKenna, Lee and Dietz (4) note that the main cause of the obesity epidemic among children is the excess of caloric intake, not matched by the caloric expenditure. Children tend to eat more, especially unhealthy food, and to exercise less, captured by the lifestyle of the 21st century, wherein the entertainment is provided by the video games, internet or television, which contribute to children sedentariness. American Heart Association (3) indicates that one in four children is uninvolved in physical activities, spending on an average four – five hours per day watching TV or playing video games. American Heart Association (3) reveals that obesity is caused also by the growing portions sizes, available mostly on out of home dining under the form of value menus, but also by the poor nutrition, high in fats, sugars and calories and low in nutrients. Parents’ lack of involvement in their children’s development, due to their agglomerated work schedules and an unbalanced life-work schedule also represents an important cause that leads to the proliferation of obesity among children and teenagers. Not having time to cook, parents give children pocket money while at school, which they use for buying snacks or fast food products, rich in calories, fats and sugars and not enough vitamins, nutrients, the essential elements of the healthy alimentation. Moreover, occupied with their work, many U.S. parents do not have time to engage their children in physical activities. Money also represents a problem when it comes to physical activities, as many families do not afford to subscribe their children in sports activities that would increase their monthly expenditures (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 1). In fact money may also be considered a problem for the poor nutrition, especially in the ethnic groups such as African Americans or Hispanic families, which target the value offers from the fast food chains instead of focusing on purchasing fruits and vegetables and other food that would assure a healthy child development.
The presence of the stores that sell chips, sweets, candies or beverages represent another significant concern that contributes to the childhood obesity, as children mostly purchase such foods, very high in calories, mostly within the urban settings, considered “toxic food environment” (Bagchi 283).
There is also, the biological cause that children are predisposed to obesity, as a condition inherited from their parents, which only perpetuates obesity if children’s alimentation, activities and lifestyles are not supervised. Not only will children with obese parents consider as natural to eat unhealthy food and be overweight or obese, but they can also inherit the psychological structure of their parents for solving each problems that they face with eating various unhealthy foods and in large quantities. Finding pleasure and consolation in food is often a cause that accentuates and further fixate the childhood obesity, leading it further to a lifetime of obesity. Obesity can often generate social isolation due to hate crimes, discriminations, bullying and other similar behaviors directed against the overweight and obese children, which can develop into depressions or psychical problems that will lead to developing an anti-social behavior, while still continuing eating as a form of comfort.
Jacob Warren is a public health care practitioner and an author, creating along with Bryant Smalley the book entitled “Always the Fat Kid: The Truth about the Enduring Effects of Childhood Obesity”. In their study, both authors recall their childhoods, wherein Warren faced obesity issues, triggering his peers’ teases that developed in self-esteem problems and Bryant was challenged with a temporary overweight (Warren & Smalley 5-7). Warren’s case was more serious, affecting his social development and his own self-perception, as he considered himself the “fat child” from kindergarten all the way through the 12th grade, which left him with deep insecurities, which hampered him from pursuing his dreams (Warren & Smalley 5). Although Jacob started to lose weight in his early 20s, which improved his self-esteem, the side-effects and trauma of being a fat kid continued, as he experienced shame of eating in public or being photographed, frustrations and socialization issues (Warren & Smalley 5).
Jacob Warren’s case indicated how much the childhood obesity can affect children, teenagers and later the adults who used to be or still are overweight or obese. A sociological stigmatization accompanies them across their lifetime and although the physical condition of obesity can be overpassed at one point in life, the psychological, and probably the medical side effects still remain.
The positive aspect about childhood obesity is that it can be prevented or decreased. There are various solutions for preventing the obesity, as there are for helping the obese children to lose weight. The prevention of childhood obesity is often called intervention, while the treatment for this condition is conceptualized as weight management (1)
The solutions to prevent child obesity can be identified in the roots of this condition. The involvement of the parents in the children’s nutrition and dieting is a solution for revising their lifestyles, eating habits and physical activities (Bagchi 283). Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (2) refers to parental control as the home – based interventions, through which the parents should be encouraged to purchase healthy foods and to schedule fitness programs for children, in order to avoid the sedentariness. Similarly, parent’s role in solving the childhood obesity or preventing it also consists in minimizing the time their children spend playing video games or watching TV, replacing the sedentariness with outdoor activities, encouraging like this a healthy development and the socialization of children. For guiding children towards outdoor and physical activities, the schools should also be involved, as currently many educational institutions have eliminated or reduced such activities from the school curricula, further accentuating the childhood sedentariness, a major cause of childhood obesity (AHA 7). Wechsler, McKenna, Lee and Dietz (5) consider that the role of the schools in preventing childhood obesity is also major, because through policies and programs, they can develop healthy eating and physical activities. A study developed by American Heart Association (7) shows that schools can be a solution for children’s weight management, by managing the available sources of nutrition from within and outside the school environment. The canteen food could be enhanced with healthier alternatives, while the vending machines outside schools can be set to only sell high nutrient products, eliminating the high caloric and fat foods (AHA 7).
Because childhood obesity has become a nation-wide medical condition, a solution for preventing it has become the government’s responsibility. Bagchi (283) indicates that there can be applied various public policies for preventing the childhood obesity, such as controlling the conditions of selling fast food products, increased taxes on junk food and subsidized healthy foods or discouraging advertising fast foods for children.
Childhood obesity is affecting the development of one in three children and future adults from United States, who can develop health conditions but also socialization problems and severe low self-esteem and traumas that can last a lifetime. There are various solutions for preventing childhood obesity, which fall into the responsibility of parents, schools, communities and the United States government. Healthy diets, low profiling of high caloric and poor nutritive foods, reducing the time spent in from of TV, internet or videogames, enhanced outdoor and physical activities are simple solutions that can prevent or reduce the childhood obesity. For an effective implementation of these solutions, all responsible actors need to work together, as childhood obesity is a nation – wide condition that needs integrated efforts for reducing the obesity among children. Children need to be educated on how to be active, spending less time in sedentary activities and appreciating healthy foods, but first parents and educators need to teach them to be responsible, while the government should issue public policies for attaining decreased rates of childhood obesity and treat the obese children.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Comparative Effectiveness Review and Meta – Analysis. Effective Health Care Program. Number 115. Rockville: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2013. Print.
American Heart Association. Understanding Childhood Obesity. American Heart Association. 2010. Print.
Bagchi, Debasis. Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity. London: Academic Press. 2011. Print.
Warren, Jacob & Smalley, Bryant. Always the Fat Kid: The Truth about Enduring Effects of Childhood Obesity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2013. Print.
Wechsler, Howell, McKenna, Mary, L., Lee, Sarah, M. & Dietz, William, H. . The Role of Schools in Preventing Childhood Obesity. National Association of State Boards of Education. 2014. Print.
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