Youth Obesity

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Childhood obesity has been an ongoing issue in America for the past several years. It has been recorded that rates of obesity in youth have tripled in the past 20 years. Today it is estimated that over 20% of American children and adolescents are overweight. This statistic alone has caught the interest of researchers and influenced them to look into the different aspects of childhood life that may be causing this issue and why it has become a trend in our young generation today. By gaining a better understanding of the complexities of youth obesity and how it may be prevented, we will be able to improve the health and well-being of today’s children and tomorrow’s adults and perhaps even eliminate the problem before it spreads to the next generation. Childhood obesity has become a disease we, as Americans see more often every year. With the lifestyle and food choices American’s are given today it has been hard for many organizations and health agencies to get a good grip on the issue. It is a life altering disease that one will pick up as a bad habit and later find that it gets quickly out of hand. In scientific terms, obesity occurs when a person's calorie intake exceeds the amount of energy he or she burns. Some are able to prevent it before it becomes the stage of obesity, but in today’s world it seems less and less are able to seize control over the battle of their weight. In result, these adults are now influencing their children and families; allowing them to follow the same unhealthy eating patterns. Family members share not only genes, but also diet and lifestyle habits that may contribute to obesity. After continued for so long these patterns throughout families may even become genetic. Separating these lifestyle factors from genetic ones is often difficult. Still, growing evidence points to heredity as a strong determining factor of obesity. In one study of adults who were adopted as children, researchers found that the subjects' adult weights were closer to their biological parents' weights than their adoptive parents'. The environment provided by the adoptive family apparently had less influence on the development of obesity than the person's genetic makeup. This is an ongoing cycle we need to stop. Shirley Watkins, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services stated, “We can no longer afford to sit back and watch this epidemic. The time is now to act on behalf of our children and bring people together in a dialogue and decide how working together we can make a difference for children. As I said, the time is now.” Obesity is not just a disease that affects your image and self-esteem. There are many dangerous side effects and chronic illnesses you immediately become prone to because of the shape your body is in and the lifestyle you live. Some immediate effects of youth obesity may be risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population based sample of 5 to 17 year olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Obese adolescents are also more likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes. Diabetes, another serious disease that has become an increasing trend in Americans is not something you want your children to develop. It becomes a struggling battle to live with and may even turn life threatening in certain situations. In addition to prediabetes, children who are obese also are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization. The long term health effects that come with being obese tend to be more serious on your health and physical state. Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer,...
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