The United States is dealing with an increasing epidemic of child obesity in our society. In the past years, Americans have changed there eating and exercise habits drastically for the worse. Children become the victims of obesity because of the lack of a nutritional diet, and exercise. Some claim that the media is to blame for the epidemic while others feel it is the parent's responsibility. This eating disorder should be taken as a serious matter especially when children's health is at risk. The evidence suggests that childhood obesity has been linked to future medical and psychosocial disorders. The American people need to start taking preventive measures to help decrease the rate of obesity in our youth.
According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, Obesity is the condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive fat (Pg. 940). Being overweight is a large build up of adipose tissue, which is stored cellular fat. Obesity was never a big issue until recently, when studies have shown increasing rates in adults and children. "The number of children who are overweight has doubled in the last two to three decades; currently one child in five is overweight" (NIH Pg 1). These statistics are mind-boggling considering a large increase in such a short time period. These numbers are prevalent in predicting future statistics on obese children in the United States. One child in five translates into 15 percent of Americans aged 6 to 19 that are overweight (Greaser Pg 1349). These statistics will only increase in years to come if nothing is done about it now.
Genetics do play a role in a person involving weight gain, but there is not much we can do to change our gene makeup. "Now there are two potential explanations for this. Either 50 percent of the population has the genes that make them susceptible to obesity, and the environmental factors are acting on this 50 percent; or 50 percent of the population is exposed to specific factors that are driving obesity that are not shared by the rest of the population" (Symp. Proc. Pg.16). Regardless of genetic makeup, we need to start changing the poor eating habits and lack of physical activities encountered in every household. Children look up to parents as role models. If a parent adopts a bad lifestyle of eating unhealthy food and little or no exercise, their child will see this as being their lifestyle of choice. The environmental issue is also a huge concern of child obesity. Unsafe streets, parks, and neighborhoods keep kids from playing outside and detrimental to a child's ability to lose excess pounds. With this information, any child is susceptible of becoming overweight and threatens an unhealthy lifestyle.
One major concern is the increase of American's becoming a fast food society. McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell to name a few, have become an easy source of a quick food fix for the whole family. "Today take-out food accounts for over 30 percent of a family's food expenditures on a daily, weekly, or annual basis; across all spectrums of socioeconomic class" (Symp. Proc. Pg 18). This percentage is forever increasing every year with more variety of fast food restaurants to choose from. Whatever happened to preparing a nutritious homemade meal? It seems as though families do not have enough time anymore to make homemade meals. These fast food joints entice children by creating kid's meals that come with toys. This is how they target the child to eat their meals. Some may call it smart target marketing and to others promoting poor eating habits. It should be up to the parent to put their foot down and create better diet choices for their children.
Some critics feel that the environmental factor is also involved in child obesity. Not all children experience growing up in an unsafe neighborhood, but a good percentage of them do. Mostly inner city children have limited resources to release their extra energy...
Cited: Childhood Obesity: causes and preventions. Symposium Proc., 27 Oct. 1998.
Washington: Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 1999.
National Institutes of Health. Childhood obesity on the rise. June 2002. 10 Oct. 2004.
"Obesity" The American Heritage College Dictionary. 3rd edition. 2000.
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