Childhood Obesity: the Responsibility of Parents

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Childhood Obesity: The Responsibility of Parents
Although obesity is a very sensitive topic, it is a pressing issue in modern culture, and it is something we cannot ignore. Who is responsible for the health of America? Is it parents, teachers, or is it the responsibility of fast food marketers to properly inform their audience? Often the blame is shifted to other people and to other influences like billboards and commercials, but rarely is the individual held responsible for their health. Lawsuits and legal action try to shift the blame onto fast food restaurants and school cafeterias. Most people feel better if they can blame their poor health on anything other than themselves. Evidence shows that one’s childhood years have a huge impact on the health of the rest of their life, and usually the parents of overweight children are the most eager to shift blame onto fast food, school lunches, or marketing aimed at their children. The reality is that parents are responsible for educating their children on a healthy lifestyle and for showing them how to make the right choices. In his article Fast Food: Oppression Through Poor Nutrition, Andrea Freeman states that government support for fast food is to blame for America’s obesity problem. He also claims that we must recognize “food oppression as a form of institutionalized inequality that must be acknowledged, addressed, and eradicated” (Freeman 2224). Another source on this topic, The Role of Schools in Obesity Prevention by Mary Story, Karen M. Kaphingst, and Simone French, states that schools aren’t doing enough to educate their students about healthy eating and activity, and that schools could be making their lunches healthier without effecting their budget. Lastly, the article Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing, by Sandra L. Calvert, claims that children, particularly those under 8 years of age, are especially vulnerable to deceptive marketing because they lack the cognitive skills to understand the persuasive intent of advertisements (Calvert 205). It is pretty easy to see that individuals are, for the most part, responsible for their own choices, but in this essay I will look at the controversy over who is responsible for childhood obesity. I will discuss the following topics: the influence fast food has over poorer inner city people, unhealthy marketing aimed specifically at children, and finally competitive foods fighting for the attention of students in public school lunchrooms. I will show that the parents of these children must step up and lead their households in a healthy manner lest the health of our culture continue to fall.

I will start by addressing the influence fast food has over poorer, inner city people. Freeman explains that often people who live nowhere near a supermarket and cannot afford the more expensive, imported fresh fruits do not have a choice but to eat the cheaper, highly- processed food available at fast food restaurants (Freeman 2222). It is common knowledge that this food is highly unhealthy, but it appears that these people do not have another option. All of Freeman’s claims seem to be valid, but they assume that parents are not going to go out of their way at all for their children. If only the parents would go out of their way and drive the extra ten minutes to buy healthier food at the grocery store, or take the time to pack healthy lunches for their kids, we could begin to rewrite the statistics. If the parents of America would step up and be who they are supposed to be, we would see improvement not only in the health of our youth, but also in the health of the country as a whole. Parents would also set the example for their children of a healthy lifestyle, something which their children would learn and apply at school and throughout the rest of their lives. Instead though, parents go through life giving their children whatever they want while quietly hoping their children will make the right...
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