Mary E. Mendes
December 3, 2012
Final: Fighting Childhood Obesity
Final Project Draft: Childhood Obesity
Growing up as a child and adolescent in the United States is met with many obstacles including exposure to domestic violence, proper education, lack of proper nutrition and other socioeconomic issues within the family unit. One particular issue that has begun to grow is childhood obesity which can lead to many health and social issues that carry on into adulthood. This epidemic stems partially from genetics but mostly from a combination of things like a lack of tools to educate parents and children on healthier life choices. As this issue reaches a critical point, changes are being set in motion to combat its cause and overall affect. While childhood obesity is not an issue for some parents, they should educate themselves in order to assist their children in making healthier decisions regarding food and physical activity. Making these necessary changes can potentially improve the child’s mental and emotional health and removes certain medical problems later in life resulting in a healthier adult. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat over what is considered to be healthy. Determining whether a child is obese is determining what is a normal weight for their height and weight. For children and adolescents, obesity is particularly troublesome not only for their health now and in the future but for their self-esteem in their formative years. Self-esteem is so crucial to the development of a young person’s mind, body and soul. It is what helps them to become well-rounded and contributing members of society. Children and adolescents have different body types at all stages of development. Just because a child carries a few extra pounds does not mean they are in any danger of becoming obese or having long-term health problems. With certain ages come different types of developmental changes. Some children have larger body frames that support more body weight. Simply looking at a child is not enough to ascertain if there is a weight problem. For example, during puberty adolescent children do gain weight more rapidly due to an influx of hormones. This type of weight gain is normal as long as the ratio of muscle, bone and body fats are in proportion. Determining whether or not a child has a healthy weight is as simple as calculating body mass index or BMI. Doctors often use this calculation though it can be a little more complicated to determine what is normal for a child. Anyone with children may recall frequent visits to the pediatrician early in the child’s life where the child is measured for height and weight. These numbers are then plotted on a growth chart to determine what percentile that child ranges within. BMI equal to or greater than the 5th percentile and less than the 85th percentile is considered a healthy weight for his or her age (Unknown, 2012). Anything above the 95th percentile is considered obese and at risk for various health-related problems. The averages for boys and girls will differ based on the fact that they develop at different speeds especially during puberty, but it is very important that parents do not jump to conclusion based on appearances and these numbers alone. One must also consider that an athletic child or teen may have more muscle mass which can also increase BMI. The most common contributor to childhood obesity is improper nutrition, food choices, and too little physical activity. Less common but still a factor are some genetic and hormonal disorders. Unfortunately many parents will use the knowledge of these disorders to rationalize a weight issue their child might have. In an age of technology, children and teens spend excess amount of time sedentary playing video games, watching television, using computers, and mobile devices. Commercials on television entice children to...