Fighting the Childhood Obesity Crisis in America
The childhood obesity crisis in America is growing at an alarming rate and there needs to be a solution for our children’s health and future. Over 17% of children in the United States are considered obese and that number continues to rise. The rate for childhood obesity has tripled since 1980 (Center for Disease Control, 2011). Remember a standard paragraph is 5-7 sentences. Obesity occurs when a child is above the normal weight for his or hers height and age (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex (Center for Disease Control, 2011). Those extra pounds can start children on a path to health problems now and as adults. Remember a standard paragraph is 5-7 sentences.
There are many risk factors and causes that can contribute to a child becoming obese. The first and most important is their diet. Children today are eating more high fat, high sugar, and high calorie foods. These foods are traditionally more convenient and cheaper to prepare than a wholesome home cooked meal, which may be hard to come by if both parents work full-time. Schools are also partly to blame; more than half of U.S. schools offer sugary drinks and unhealthy food options for children (Center for Disease Control, 2011). Food portions are also larger than they were in the past which can cause the child to overeat without meaning to (Center for Disease Control, 2011). Another major cause of childhood obesity is lack of exercise. Most children do not get the recommended amount of physical activity every day, and in turn, they do not burn enough calories to prevent weight gain (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Watching television and playing video games takes up precious time that children could be involved in physical activity. The average child watches about 4.5 hours of television a day (Center for Disease Control, 2011). Children who come from families who are also obese have a much higher chance of becoming obese themselves. This is due partly because the family may only have high fat, high calorie foods available and the family may not encourage exercise. Also children who are depressed, stressed, or even bored will also turn to food to cope with their psychological problems. Children from low-income families are also more prone to obesity because of the lack of resources available to the family about healthy eating habits and proper exercise (Mayo Clinic, 2010). The environment in which a child lives in is not the only cause of obesity. Certain genetic disorders and diseases can also contribute to weight gain. Prader-Willi syndrome can cause children to have a chronic feeling of hunger and affects 1 in 15,000 children (Prader-Willi Association, 2011). Children with Prader-Willi syndrome also tend to have a slower metabolism, and coupled with the urge to eat constantly, they are at a higher risk of becoming obese (WebMD, 2011). Children who suffer from Cushing’s syndrome may also be at risk for obesity because the disorders causes body fat to deposit around the upper body (Family Doctor, 2010). The consequences of childhood obesity can affect children not only physically, but psychologically as well. Children who suffer from obesity will have dire consequences dealing with their health. Obese children are more likely to suffer from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These factors can contribute to the buildup of plaques in the arteries. These plaques can cause arteries to narrow and harden, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke later in life (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Type 2 diabetes, which used to be known as adult onset diabetes, is now affecting children. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body metabolizes glucose, that disease itself can cause an array of complications (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Children may also develop asthma and other breathing problems such as sleep apnea,...
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