Childhood Obesity

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Imagine a world where a school aged child can step out of their school and walk into a McDonalds. A world where soda companies make millions of dollars a year by placing soda machines in schools. A world where obesity is killing more people than smoking. What if I told you this world is not in your imagination but is the world we live in today? You Can't Escape the Headlines. You Can't Avoid the Facts. Childhood obesity has reached unbelievable heights. The future health of an entire generation is at risk. Obesity is on the rise, and it is becoming more and more of a national health concern. The increasing number of obese children and youth throughout the United States has led policy makers to rank it as a critical public health threat. (American Academy of Pediatrics 10). Healthy eating habits should begin in infancy and continue throughout childhood, adolescence and beyond. Parents have an enormous influence on their child’s eating behaviors that can last a lifetime and can prevent or reduce the risk of obesity. Without a parent’s attention focused on what (and how much) the child is eating, your child can begin to move in the direction of obesity in the first years of life. Since the 1970s, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years old. At present, approximately nine million children over six years of age are obese. (American Academy of Pediatrics 15). With obesity becoming more and more of a problem each year, the American population is going to suffer from a catastrophic health emergency.

Childhood obesity is an epidemic that is quickly attacking our children. It is a serious medical condition once thought to only affect adults, that is now affecting children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. As part of regular well-child check-up, the doctor calculates your child's body mass index (BMI) and determines where it falls on the national BMI-for-age growth chart. The BMI indicates if your child is overweight for his or her age and height. Using the growth chart, your doctor determines your child's percentile, meaning how your child compares with other children of the same sex and age. So, for example, you might be told that your child is in the 80th percentile. This means that compared with other children of the same sex and age, 80 percent have a lower BMI. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established cutoff points on these growth charts, to help identify overweight and obese children. A BMI-for-age between the 85th and 94th percentiles indicates that the child is overweight. And a BMI-for-age in the 95th percentile or above signifies obesity (Dalton 45). One of the best strategies to combat excess weight in your child is to improve the diet and exercise levels of your entire family. This helps protect the health of your child now and in the future. Unfortunately, we’re living at a time where everyone is always busy and on the go. This limits the amount of time that could be spent paying a little extra attention to the foods your children are consuming. We’re also in a time where children spend less time engaging in physical activities. Instead, they watch excessive amounts of television, and are constantly presented with advertisements promoting foods that are fried and high in fat and sugar. The fact that children can be exposed to such ads through television, might explain the strong relationships found between television viewing and obesity in children. (Dalton 53). Children also tend to play more videogames and/or computer games, and for longer periods of time. This sedentary lifestyle, which is beginning earlier than ever before, is causing children to gain weight because they are not burning calories through physical activity. This has proven to have severe adverse health...
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