Childhood Obesity Research Paper Sample
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Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States and the world at large. There are a number of issues that are related with childhood obesity, and childhood obesity is a problem that will continue to haunt children for the rest of their lives. Childhood obesity is not without solutions or cures, but a general unwillingness to deal with the issue of childhood obesity has led to an increased number of children who are suffering from the disease. Childhood obesity is not the fault of children, but it is something that is causing long-term health problems and emotional problems in children who suffer from the disease. Parents do not take the issue of childhood obesity seriously enough, and as a result, the number of children who are seriously obese and dangerously ill is only growing in the western world. Without a serious intervention regarding values and structure in many children’s lives, the current generation of children will potentially be the first generation that will live shorter, less fulfilling lives than those of their parents—and this is completely unacceptable (Davis 634). There are a number of environmental and structural issues that support the development of childhood obesity, including problems with advertising, busy lives, poor understanding of nutrition, and difficulty saying no to children that have all contributed to the development of childhood obesity as a global problem.
One of the biggest problems in the western world insofar as children’s health is concerned is the issue of advertising. Companies are very good at advertising for children; they can create advertising campaigns that are very appealing to young eyes and young minds (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 474). When children who watch television are constantly bombarded by fun advertisements for junk food, they are constantly in danger of developing a taste for these foods (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 474). Many researchers do not even consider foods like sugary cereals and yogurts to be food at all—they are “food-like” products, and have no real nutritional value (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 476). When children eat excessive amounts of these food-like substances, they become addicted to them in the same way that someone can become addicted to drugs (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 479). Kids are not particularly savvy consumers. They are not capable of discerning the difference between good advertising, bad advertising, and advertising that is lying; instead, they are forced to accept anything that comes at them as truth, and food companies are extremely good at making advertising that is appealing to children (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 474). None of the food that appeals to children is health food, and this is another issue that is extremely important in the fight against childhood obesity. Allowing food companies to use bright, interesting characters to appeal to children is something that is incredibly irresponsible on the part of parents and advertisers; food companies are only interested in making profits, and they are making significant profits at the cost of children’s health. This is not acceptable, and parents should be on their guard, watching for sugary, unhealthy foods that are being disguised as health foods and marketed surreptitiously to their children (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 474-475).
Parents are increasingly busy today, and often times, healthy food is put on the back burner for convenience. There is much more fast food available today than there has ever been before, and all this fast food is very appealing to both children and adults. Adults like fast food because it is fast, available, and cheap; children like it because it is packed with fats and sugars (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 480). Human beings are designed to enjoy foods that are packed with fats and sugars, because in the past, these foods were the foods that kept people alive through long periods of scarcity (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 479). Today, people in the western world rarely experience scarcity in food in the same way that people did when humans were still hunter-gatherers, but the evolutionary drive to stick with foods that are calorie-dense and fatty has not gone away (Miller n.pag). Unfortunately, eating too many of these foods can lead to health problems, including diabetes and obesity. When children eat too many sugary, fatty foods from a very young age, they become accustomed to eating those types of foods. It will take a serious intervention in their diet as they grow up to get them to give up these types of foods for more nutritionally sound meals (Davis 634). In addition, fatty and sugary foods make all other foods taste somewhat bland, because they overwhelm the taste buds; it takes a long time before someone who is used to eating fatty, salty, or sugary foods can truly taste real foods (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 474).
Parents sometimes give in to their children’s whims because it is easier to say yes to a child than it is to say no. Parents must always balance time management against how long it will take to force a child to act in a certain way, and sometimes it is easier to feed a child whatever he or she wants to eat than it is to force him or her to eat healthy food (Davis 634). However, this is a very dangerous precedent to set for children moving forward. It allows children to force parents into acting a certain way, and it allows children to force parents to make bad decisions regarding the child’s health. Children should not be responsible for their own health—it should be the parent’s job to ensure that a child is eating correctly, and that the child is not acting in such a way that he or she is likely to develop diabetes before the age of fifteen (Davis). Parents need to prioritize healthy eating in their children, or it becomes too much of a problem later; every time a parent gives in on the subject of food, the child realizes that he or she can just throw a fit and get his or her way about whatever he or she wants to eat. This is extremely bad for the child, and it is something that parents do not take seriously enough.
Another significant problem in the fight against childhood obesity is the fact that while many parents mean well, but most people do not have a good understanding of what healthy food is in their own lives (Davis). They may think that they are feeding their child healthy food, but most adults do not even have a basic grasp of nutritional science. This is partially the fault of the adults, but, to be fair, nutritional science is a constantly changing field. There are many things about nutritional science that were taken for granted a few decades ago that are being questioned today (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 477). For instance, eggs were considered to be too high in cholesterol to be truly healthy, but today, eggs are considered to be a super food (Ebbeling, Dorota, Pawlak, and Ludwig 477). Despite this, the fact remains that everyone knows that whole foods are much better for children and adults than sugar-packed processed foods, and adults who do not take the time to feed their children healthy foods are doing their children a distinct disservice (Davis 635).
The most important thing to do moving forward is to teach adults about the importance of cooking their own food and encouraging healthy eating within individual households. Many people have a misunderstanding about how much time it takes to cook healthily, but in reality, cooking healthy food is something that is very doable, even on a very tight schedule (Must and Strauss S3). Without lifestyle changes, children will grow up in households where they are not able to learn proper eating habits, and it will be the fault of the adults in their lives (Must and Strauss S3).
It is clear that something must change in the way that the obesity crisis in children is being handled by the western world at large. Instead of shrinking, the problem is growing; more and more adults in the United States are termed as obese, and children are becoming more obese at younger ages as well. This is a problem that must be solved with health eating interventions: a good exercise regime is not enough to outweigh a terrible diet. Without changes, obese children will grow into obese adults, and their quality of life will be abysmal.
Davis, A. 'Obesity, Increased Linear Growth, And Risk Of Type 1 Diabetes In Children'. Clinical Pediatrics 40.11 (2001): 634-635. EBSCO. Web. Web. 2 March 2015.
Ebbeling, Cara B, Dorota B Pawlak, and David S Ludwig. 'Childhood Obesity: Public-Health Crisis, Common Sense Cure'. The Lancet 360.9331 (2002): 473-482. EBSCO. Web. 2 March 2015.
Hypponen, E. et al. 'Obesity, Increased Linear Growth, And Risk Of Type 1 Diabetes In Children'.Diabetes Care 23.12 (2000): 1755-1760. Web. Web. 2 March 2015.
Miller, Doriane. 'Our Children's "Diabesity" Epidemic'. Chicago Weekend 42.45 (2012): n. pag. Web. Web. 2 March 2015.
Must, A, and R S Strauss. 'Risks And Consequences Of Childhood And Adolescent Obesity'. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 23 (1999): S2-S11. EBSCO. Web. 2 March 2015.
Waldher, Thomas, and Edith Schober. 'Regional Distribution Of Risk For Childhood Diabetes In Austria And Possible Association With Body Mass Index'. European Journal of Pediatrics 163.6 (2003): 380-385. EBSCO. Web. 2 March 2015.
Wilson, Carol. 'Obesity: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages—Fueling The Epidemic Of Childhood Obesity?'.Nat Rev Endocrinol 8.12 (2012): 696-696. EBSCO. Web. 2 March 2015.
Wojcicki, Janet M. 'Healthy Hospital Food Initiatives In The United States: Time To Ban Sugar Sweetened Beverages To Reduce Childhood Obesity'. Acta Paediatrica 102.6 (2013): 560-561. EBSCO. Web. 2 March 2015.
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