English Composition II
June 4, 2012
Childhood Obesity in America
Childhood obesity is an important issue because of the shocking magnitude that this disease has reached in the past few years. Compared to other threats to children's health, childhood obesity has begun to rise tremendously. Certain genetic factors paired with changing lifestyles and cultures have produced children who are generally not as healthy as people were just a few decades ago. According to Berg (2004), 15% of American children are overweight – three times as many as thirty years ago – and another 15% are at risk for overweight. The treatment and prevention of childhood obesity are considered the responsibility of individual children and their parents. Parents of obese children are left in a difficult position of fearing for the social and health consequences of their child's obesity, and fighting a losing battle against the powerful presence of the media and constant exposure to unhealthy foods. It has been said that breastfeeding protects children from being obese or overweight; many people believe that “establishing healthy dietary behaviors must begin early in childhood. Mothers need education and support in healthy feeding and mealtime practices as part of a multi strategy response that targets early feeding as one potentially modifiable approach” (Horodynski, Baker, Coleman, Auld, & Lindau, 2011, p. 582.) Whether breastfeeding is protecting against the increase of children who are overweight and obese remains a topic of dispute. Although a number of evidence indicates that breastfeeding lowers the risk of obesity, these results are by no means final. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2012) states, in the United States, while 75% of mothers start out breastfeeding, only 13% of babies are exclusively breastfed at the end of 6 months. Does that mean that at the age of 6 months children are already falling into the category of being overweight?
Many studies have been done, one in particular where “nearly 300,000 participants, showed that breastfeeding consistently reduced risks for overweight and obesity. The greatest protection is seen when breastfeeding is exclusive (no formula or solid foods) and continues for more than three months” (California WIC Association, 2006, p. 2.) The California WIC Association states that there are several possible reasons for the protective effect of breastfeeding against obesity, they are: ▪ Breastfed infants may be better at self-regulating their intake. Mothers can’t see how much milk their child is drinking, so they must rely on their infant’s behavior, not an empty bottle, to signal when their infant is full. Thus, breastfed babies might be better able to eat only as much as they need. ▪ Breastfed infants are more likely than formula-fed infants to try and to accept new foods. Acceptance of new foods is important because a healthy diet should include a wide variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Because breast milk contains flavors from foods eaten by the mother, breastfed infants are exposed to a variety of tastes very early in life. In contrast, infant formula always tastes the same. ▪ Breastfeeding has different effects than formula feeding on infants’ metabolism and on hormones such as insulin, which tells the body to store fat. Formula-fed infants tend to be fatter than breastfed infants at 12 months of age. Other studies have shown that breast milk is more digestible then formula and that is why breastfeeding is better. According to Eiger (1999), in recent year’s nutritionists have voiced concern about overly high levels of protein in the American diet. Since cow's milk contains about twice as much protein as human milk, formula-fed babies usually receive more protein than they need (much of it in the form of the less digestible...