Facultad de Historia, Geografía y Letras
Departamento de Inglés
Post-Intermediate Oral and Written Discourse
Prof. Jesse Spencer
María Teresa Acuña Vera Group 3
Childhood obesity and risk to children’s health
A new epidemic has been appeared in the world in the last decades. Childhood obesity, as an epidemic, is a growing problem in many countries of the world, it has gained the full attention of health care professionals, health policy experts, children's advocates, and parents, but if we look the worldwide percentage of young children who are considered overweight for their age and height we can see that the attention of authorities is not working and the measures that countries took cannot stop the problem. The causes of childhood obesity are complex, and in some cases are biological, but are parents concerned about childhood obesity and its causes? Do they know their role in this issue? If parent do not know about the implications of childhood obesity and its causes, and the significance of their role in their child’s health it is probable that they do not know that obesity in children is the most important risk to children’s long and short-term health.
“Childhood obesity is a medical condition that affects children and teenagers. If a child or a adult stores too much fat they can be classified as obese. A sign of childhood obesity is a weight well above the average for a child’s height and age” (CITAR), conforming to this definition, it is possible to recognize that obesity is a problem of weight and is related first to unhealthy eating habits that are not the picture of health. According to an article of Nestle, “the latest findings from the landmark ‘Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study’ (FITS) has shown that children as young as 12 months are beginning to develop some unhealthy dietary patterns that may contribute to childhood obesity” (CITAR). These unhealthy eating habits regularly include eating high-calorie food, such as fast food, cookies, soda, chips, and other baked goods that can contribute to gain weight. Soft drinks containing sugar are a risk factor to children’s health. In accordance with a study of University of Minnesota “of almost 10,000 adults found that even just one diet soda a day was linked to a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms including belly fat and high cholesterol that put people at risk for heart disease”. (CITAR)
Other cause of childhood obesity is the lack of exercise. If children do not exercise much are more susceptible to gain weight because they do not burn calories through physical activity. There are popular inactive leisure activities such as watching television or playing video games that contribute not only to obesity but also other chronic diseases, including “type 2 diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer” (CITAR). Eventually, these diseases are a risk for children’s health and if they don’t receive treatment in time, this could affect children’s normal activities in long-term.
Psychological factors are also associated with obesity causes. Children and adolescents use food as a coping mechanism when they are sad, anxious, overeating and weight gain. In this way, they use food as a way to deal with their feelings and emotions, but if they do not eat they became a bundle of nerves. The resulting guilt of their problem may reactive the cycle, leading to a continuous pattern of using food to cope with emotions. Depression and other mental health disorders are related to psychological factors. According to Psychology Today, “one study, published in Pediatrics, found that the longer a child is overweight, the more he or she is at risk for depression and other mental health disorders” (CITAR).
Furthermore, parents can play a role in preventing childhood obesity. They have influence on children by promoting certain values and attitudes that are reflected in children’s lifestyles, that is to say, parent role modeling of eating and physical activity habits plays an enormous role in determine whether a child becomes overweight or obese. However, “children from families where obesity promoting behaviors are prevalent are at higher risk of overweight and obesity” (CITA). In this way, children could receive healthy or unhealthy eating habits and if a child becomes obese their parents could help him in order to kick a habit.
Overall, childhood obesity is a problem that must be treated as soon as possible for authorities in different countries. Parents must be role models against this disease to prevent not only unhealthy eating habits, but also lack of exercise in children that nowadays are the main causes of childhood obesity. If parents and authorities are able to make a change in order to stop the epidemic, the percentage of childhood obesity will decrease, and also the risk of children’s long and short-term health.
1. 6° Davison KK, Francis LA, Birch LL: Reexamining Obesigenic Families: Parents' Obesity-related Behaviors Predict Girls' Change in BMI. Obes Rev 2005, 13(11):1980-1990. Publisher Full Text
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