Childhood Obesity: a Result of Bad Parenting?

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Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that happens when a child’s weight is well above normal standards for his or her age and height and it has become an ever-increasing problem in the last three decades. Between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008, pre-school aged children 2-5 years increased in obesity from 5 to 10.4%. Among 6-11 year olds, that rate increased from 6.5 to 19.6% and from 5 to 18.1% among adolescents aged 12-19. (Ogden & Carroll, 2010, para. 3). Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the additional weight can lead to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. (Lap-band Weight Loss Surgery, 2009). Whether attribution for the increase in obesity in children is genetics, behavior, biology, environment, income, parents, or other factors has been the subject of much debate. New approaches to reversing this increase are on the rise. “While factors such as genetics and physical activity can contribute to childhood obesity, parenting practices may have the largest impact on a child’s eating behavior”(Parenting Practices, 2010). Due to the prevalence of obesity in children and importance of finding a solution to the problem, this research study has been limited to children aged 2-19 years, but will not limit their location. Research conducted was discovered in databases provided by the Ashford Online Library, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other trusted scholarly journals found online. The purpose of this research paper was to investigate the parents’ role in a child’s weight and determine what parents can do to help their overweight children shed those extra pounds and stay healthy. The hypothesis was that by taking a more active role in a child’s physical level of activity and food choices, parents can begin to see a decline in the weight of their children. By being a good role model for children, adults can influence the choices they make. ” Parents and caregivers influence children’s eating through the type of foods they provide, how meals are structured, their parenting style, role modeling and the family and social environment. Positive early childhood experiences regarding food and the social environment in which children eat are critical to the development of healthy eating habits later in life” (Parents and Caregivers). Jocelyn Block and Melinda Smith (2010) make several recommendations for fighting childhood obesity. Get the whole family involved, encourage healthy eating habits, be smart about snacks and sweets, watch portion sizes, get your kids moving, reduce screen time, and get involved in your children’s lives. When parents get the entire family involved, the situation becomes more about creating a healthy lifestyle than about the child’s weight. When changes are directed at the whole family, an overweight child does not feel singled out and self-conscious. Be smart about the snacks and sweets that are in the house. Do not completely ban sweet because this will only encourage children to overindulge when given the chance. Instead, begin providing healthy alternatives such as fruits to quench a craving for candy and vegetables to replace the crunch of chips. Using smaller dishes is a great way to help limit portion sizes. Portions appear bigger and less food is eaten when a smaller plate is used. By limiting a child’s exposure to television and video games to an hour or two a day, children are left with getting active to occupy their time (p. 1). “For children, family represents the primary source of social learning, influence, and exposure to and adoption of health habits. Family provides social and interpersonal support that is instrumental in shaping and maintaining children’s eating habits and physical activity patterns” (Chen & Escarce, 2010). By influencing children to be more active and eat healthier, we are “training” them to live a healthier lifestyle as adults. Changes...
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