Hawai’i Pacific University
THE RISING COST OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY
The relationship between income and childhood obesity
Ms. Amber Leonard
Mar 1, 2011
Just take a short drive down any main street in a popular city and you will drive past no less than eight fast food restaurants and three convenient stores within a couple of blocks from each other. If that is the route driven on your way home every day from work and you don’t feel up to making a home cooked meal, what do you think your family will be eating that night. It is sometimes cheaper to buy a cheeseburger off of the value menu rather than cooking one at home. Fast food is a large reason why childhood obesity takes place. Fast food restaurants do not only aim to attract tired parents but also aim to gain those who obtain low and high incomes with their reasonable, in-budget, menu prices. The fast food industry knows this and has placed themselves in high traffic areas so they can capitalize on tired and hard working parents. There are many reasons for childhood obesity, one of which is poverty; income levels significantly impacts obesity amongst children in a variety of ways. Food insecurity happens when children do not have proper access or have limited access to nutritionally sound foods. In limited income houses, children tend to live in food insecure homes where food may be scarce or diets altered (Gundersen), poverty produces food insecurity Childhood obesity is a rising health problem, if gone untreated it can be life threatening. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, sleep apnea, low self esteem and discrimination just to name a few problems. While there are many health and mental issues an obese child might go through, a good question to ask, that many people think to themselves while witnessing such a disease, would be how exactly did they get that way? There are many reasons a child could become obese, but a very significant issue is how family income and the economy affect the weight of a child.
The ties between income and childhood obesity have been easily identified from successful surveys. One example of a successful survey was one completed by Allison Diamant. She was able to have children and adolescents participate in a telephonic survey to identify physical activities that were being done on a daily schedule, what food is being consumed, how much each child weighs, and the family income. This survey was taken with the children of California. California is an excellent choice to pursue the survey because of how socially and economically diverse the state is. The state is well known of how many overweight people reside there. There were approximately 17,500 children who participated each year since 2001 (Diamant). Results from the survey had shown that obesity in children is dropping, but not by much, one to two percent each year. Each state is able to differ greatly so it is best not to base the complete study a survey from one state. Although the economy crisis is current, it is good to know that childhood obesity is continuing to fall. There were more results found when the surveys were completed such as certain ethnic races, Africans and Latinos, had more problems with childhood obesity, especially with the addition of income. Results also had shown African and Latino males suffering from the disease more so than females of the same race. Though the surveys were able to come to the conclusion that low income families tend to have more problems with childhood obesity, children who come from higher income families still suffer from the same problems as well. The survey was not meant to prove that wealthy children are problem free, but to determine exactly which children are being more affected. There are many factors that affect both lower and upper class children such as physical activities, how much television is watched each day, and knowledge of nutrition and how to live a...
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