PHRM3210: Principals of Professional Practice
University of Manitoba
March 11, 2010
Childhood Obesity and Physical Activity Effects on Developmental Health "You can never be too rich or too thin". This famous quote from Wallis Warfield Simpson the Duchess of Windsor seems to have become societies mantra in the twenty first century. We are bombarded on a daily basis with the idea that to be successful we need to make as much money as possible, and that thin is in. You can not go fifteen minutes without seeing a product, service, or system designed to make you rich or help lose weight. Yet despite living in some of the richest countries in the world, with steadily rising GDP's, in the midst of all these messages to be skinny there is a disturbing trend towards obesity in the global population. Over the past 25 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children has continued to rise, with the most substantial increases observed in economically developed countries.1 This tendency is one that has rapidly led to what is now being called an obesity epidemic, in which obesity has become a serious, large-scale, public health concern.2 Although Canadians as a whole are healthier and fitter our American neighbours we have not proven immune.3 Over the past several years, Canada has experienced an alarming increase in obesity rates among its adults, youths and children.1,4 According to the results of the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey: Nutrition (CCHS), a substantial share of Canadian youth are part of this trend. In 2004, 26% of Canadian children and adolescents aged 2 to 17 were either overweight (BMI>25kg/m2) or obese (BMI>30kg/m2); 8% were obese.1 For adolescents aged 12 to 17, the overweight/obesity rate has more than doubled, and the obesity rate has tripled over the last 25 years.1
Childhood obesity, itself, is of particular concern because many of the serious medical complications of obesity compound with time. Obesity predisposes an individual to orthopaedic complications, metabolic disturbances, type 2 diabetes, disrupted sleep patterns, poor immune function, skin problems, impaired mobility, and increased blood pressure and hypertension.5 This continues to worsen over time, and the longer a person is obese the more likely they are to develop one or more of these conditions. The continuity of obesity into adulthood results in further long-term consequences such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance which leads to type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, osteoarthritis and certain cancers.6 Additionally childhood obesity has a significant impact on a child’s physical appearance which can result in additional psycho-social consequences, such as a low self-esteem, social alienation, and lack of self-confidence, which may result in depression and anxiety.5,6 Obesity also affects many of the social and economic determinates of health. Obese individuals typically experience more chronic stress, difficulty gaining and keeping employment, and are typically stigmatized by society, even by their healthcare professionals.7 The economic costs of obesity are also significant. Direct and indirect costs to Canadians associated with obesity have been estimated as $4.3 billion in 2001 alone.8 Adults who were obese as children have also demonstrated an increased risk of both morbidity and mortality independent of their adult weight.6 For all of these reasons it is critically important to target obesity in childhood before it has the chance to ruin a persons health.
While it seems like there is a fairly straight forward solution, increase daily activity, reduce the intake of unhealthy foods while eating more fruits and vegetables to improve lifelong health, the overall equation is far more complicated. At its simplest obesity results when, a person habitually...