Creating A Program To Prevent Childhood Obesity Research Paper Example
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Parents, pediatricians and policy makers are concerned about the rising rates of obesity and overweight children. Over the past 15 years, the number of obese children has doubled. This has led to the need to have programs to prevent childhood obesity. This leads to the question what is childhood obesity? Obesity can be defined as a Body Mass Index at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same sex and age. Overweight, on the other hand, can be referred to as a body mass index at or above the 85th percentile for children of the same sex and age. Body mass index is a measuring method used to determine childhood weight and obesity. The body mass index does not measure the child’s fat directly, but it is used as a reasonable indicator of body fatness for most children and teens.
Consequences of childhood obesity
The problem of childhood obesity can be seen in terms of the short-term effects and the long term effects. According to Waters et al. (2010), the health risk for the obese children currently cannot be understated. The obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are high which are the main risk factors for the cardiovascular disease. The obese children also have an increased risk of impaired insulin resistance, glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes. The children are also more likely to have breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea. The children have joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort. Apart from the problems that affect them in terms of their physical health, the obese children can have a greater risk of psychological and social problems that may include discrimination, poor self-esteem and being stereotyped. These problems can continue until adulthood.
Program to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Childhood is the best age group that is considered the priority population for intervention strategies because firstly it is very difficult for adults to lose weight. Additionally, there are far much greater strategies to prevent childhood obesity for children. The best place to ensure childhood obesity is schools. This is because schools are a natural setting for influencing physical activities and the foods that the children consume. Other similar settings such as the school environments such after school care services and preschool provide a similar environment that provide opportunities for action. A program that is best for the prevention can be achieved through a variety of interventions such as targeting physical activities, diet and built environment.
The best way to prevent childhood obesity is through the provision of healthy foods. This can be done through balancing of calories that the children take. One should offer their children nutritious snacks and meals with the correct and appropriate number of calories. This can be done through the improvement of healthy eating habits and making the favorite foods for the children healthier. The steps that one could use include;
Encourage healthy eating habits. The small variations in the foods that the children consume can be a great success. Plenty of vegetables, whole grain products and fruits should be provided. The foods that the children consume should include low-fat dairy products and in extreme cases, the children should consume nonfat dairy products. The parents and the supervisors at school should serve the children with reasonable sized portions of foodstuffs during meal times. The children should be encouraged to drink lots of water. Parents should be encouraged to limit beverages that are sugar-sweetened that have sodium and saturated fat.
Make favorite dishes healthier. Schools and parents should ensure that there are few changes in the recipes that they make. The changes in the recipes can make some of the children to have new favorites as well.
Remove calorie-rich temptations. For parents, it is okay to treat their children once in a while. Some of the examples of foods that are easy to prepare that are of low sugar and fat that can be used to treat the children include a medium-size apple, a cup of blueberries, a cup of grapes and a medium sized banana (Institute of Medicine (U.S.)et al, 2010).
Help children stay active. It is recommended that children should participate in at least one hour daily in activities of moderate-intensity physical activity. This can be done by setting a good example for the children by participating in them. The routine should be built by inviting the children to join you in the physical activities. Some of the physical activities include; playing tag, jumping rope, playing soccer, dancing, and swimming, and brisk walking. In schools, the manner in which physical education is taught should be revised to allow more time for the children to play. The education of physical activities should be intensified. Schools should also ensure that they come up with report cards to ensure that the parents of the children are aware of their children’s weight and obesity problems. According to Kumanyika (2010), parents and school officials should come up with proper modes of travel to and from school. This can be done through the use of walking bus, cycling and the use of public transport. Parents and school teachers should be able to teach their children about the benefits of being physically active. The benefits include strengthening of the bones, reduction of stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, decreasing blood pressure and helping with weight management.
Restrict the time that the children watch television. Appropriate time should be set by the parents on the number of hours that the children spend watching television. Parents should also make sure that children are not allowed to eat while watching television. This is because if the children are allowed, then this becomes one of the bad eating habits that should be avoided.
It is not only the obligation of the parents and the teachers to ensure that the problem of obesity in children is tackled. Stern and Kazaks (2009) note that this is a social delinquent that affects everyone. The local authorities can also play a key role in the program that is developed to combat obesity in children. In terms of health eating, the local authorities should;
Develop incentive programs to attract grocery stores and supermarkets to neighborhoods that are underserved.
Implement tax strategies that discourage the consumption of beverages and foods that have minimal nutritional values.
Implement and mandate strong nutritional standards of beverages and foods that are available in government-run institutions or the regulated afterschool programs, childcare facilities, recreational center parks by limiting access to unhealthy beverages and foods.
Require the labeling of menus in all eating establishments that provide the nutritional and calorie contents of the foods that the chain restaurants are serving to their customers.
In terms of physical activities for the children, the local authorities should ensure that;
They plan, build and maintain series of network sidewalks and road crossings that connect the parks, schools, and various other destinations that the children may want to go thereby creating a walking and comfortable environment.
Local authorities should collaborate with schools and the parents in the creation and the implementation of the Safe Routes to school program.
Create themed parks and playgrounds that are safe and attractive to the children.
Collaborate with various schools and other organizations that organize sporting events in the school playing grounds when the schools are closed. The playgrounds of the school could be used by the community residents.
The local authorities could institute regulatory policies that mandate minimum paying space, duration of play in preschool, childcare programs, and physical equipment.
In conclusion, obesity is a chronic disorder that has multiple causes. Obesity in childhood has a significant impact on the lives of children in terms of their psychological and physical health. Additionally, there is an increased frequency of psychological disorder such as depression in children. This calls for a program that is used by the stakeholders to ensure that the rise of childhood obesity in children is reduced. This paper has provided some of the strategies that can be implemented in the program. For the program to be successful, all the stakeholders have to play a key role. Additionally, some of the key pillars of the programs include the physical activities, proper diet, and the environment that the children are in. the program has to be implemented in totality so that the results can be attained.
Waters, E., Swinburn, B., Seidell, J., & Uauy, R. (2010). Preventing Childhood Obesity: Evidence Policy and Practice. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Stern, J. S., & Kazaks, A. (2009). Obesity: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC- CLIO.
Kumanyika, S. K., Parker, L., Sim, L. J., Institute of Medicine (U.S.)., & Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2010). Bridging the evidence gap in obesity prevention: A framework to inform decision making. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
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