Childhood Obesity: a Growing Epidemic

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Childhood Obesity: A Growing Epidemic
Matt Vogel
University of South Dakota

Would you like to super-size this meal for an extra $.39? That is a question far too many Americans hear everyday. People in this country are getting fatter and fatter. "In a study conducted by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM), the prevalence of obese children age 6 to 11 is three times as high as 30 years ago," (Arnst and Kiley, 2004). Additionally, 31% of the total U.S. population is classified as obese (Tiplady, 2005). As obese kids move through adolescence and into adulthood, their risk for health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes increases greatly (, n.d.). To tackle this giant, ever-growing problem, we need to start at the beginning, with children. Seventy percent of kids who are obese will be stay that way into adulthood (, n.d.). To fully understand the dilemma, I will identify the major causes, discuss the effects, and come up with some methods of prevention for childhood obesity. Research Questions:

1.What are the major causes of childhood obesity?
2.What are the various health effects of childhood obesity? 3.How can childhood obesity be dealt with in current children and prevented in future children? Significance:
The obese lifestyle leads to some scary health issues down the road. A diet containing lots of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries and other cardiovascular problems which can cause heart disease as the person gets older. Another health problem, and the one most likely to occur in overweight children, is Type Two Diabetes. According to the aforementioned IOM report, an approximate 30% of obese boys and 40% of obese girls are at risk to develop diabetes at some time in their lives. Type Two causes an imbalance of blood sugar in the body. It has also been known to cause kidney failure and coronary artery disease. In many cases, it can be treated with changes in diet and exercise, and with weight loss. Serious cases, however, have to be treated with oral antibiotics. Sufferers must maintain a strict diet to ensure their blood sugar remains relatively constant, because changes in it can cause organ damage. The number one way to prevent Type Two Diabetes before it starts, however, is weight loss. A staggering 85% percent of all sufferers of this disease are obese (, March 25, 2006). This paper will provide guidelines on what needs to be done to curb the problem of childhood obesity. It will outline a plan of attack, and say who and what needs to be changed. As with any problem, changing a culture is very difficult and would take a lot of time, but, if a lot of people take the lead, others will follow their example and enter into a new, healthy lifestyle. Review of Literature:

In the journal article "Weapons of Mass Consumption," L.J. Farer writes about how unhealthy fast-food can be. The biggest contributor to obesity in children is the amount of unhealthy foods they intake, and the fast-food industry is the top culprit. A traditional meal at Burger King consisting of a Whopper, medium fries, and a large chocolate shake contains 1,910 calories, 87 grams of fat, 35 grams of saturated fat, 2,280 milligrams of sodium and 136 grams of sugar. In one meal, you have reached or exceeded the recommended daily values of all these things, based on a 2000 calorie-a-day diet (Farer, 2006). Even the salads offered at fast-food joints are not very good for your health. "The California Cobb Salad with crispy chicken and ranch dressing at McDonalds's has about 700 more milligrams of sodium than a Big Mac, and has about the same fat and calorie content," (Farer, 2006).

But kids are kids. They do not have the ultimate decision on what and where to eat. They do not cook meals for themselves at home or at school. Much of the blame, therefore, has to be put on parents and schools. As...
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