Imagine being in a room with a group of children. If we paid close attention, one in the group would likely be overweight. Did we pay attention to that at least one in the group is more than likely overweight? That child in the group is at risk of health problems. Studies now show that the rate of overweight children has tremendously increased to one in five children between the ages of 6 and 16. Childhood obesity has become a growing epidemic with many health risks associated with childhood obesity. Families today, are now spending less time focusing on healthy lifestyle. While unhealthy foods have become more convenient, more effort in healthy eating will help prevent childhood obesity. Eating nutritious foods is vital to a healthy lifestyle and will reduce the risks of health problems.
Obesity in children remains a leading health concern that unreasonably affects low-income and minority children. Today, it seems that there are more excuses than causes for childhood obesity. Arguably the question is asked who is in control of children’s diet? According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Home, childcare, school, and community environments can influence children's behaviors related to food intake and physical activity (United States Department of Health and Human Services. 2007)”. Economics and the environment in which we live determine one’s access to different foods. Unfortunately, the availability of healthy foods is less in lower income neighborhoods. “According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about 23.5 million people in the United States live in communities that are more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (Garry. 2010)”. The communities with limited access are called food deserts. The communities are limited to fresh foods and are offered foods higher in sugar and carbohydrates. Foods higher in sugar and carbohydrates are more affordable than the limited snacks that would be healthier for a child.
Then there are those fast-food restaurants that allow the convenience for a parent when time does not permit a healthy home-cooked meal. I often think about a time when my daughter stated as a young girl that she wanted “slow-cooked” food. It took me a second to understand what she meant. At such a young age, I was pleasantly surprised that the attractiveness of the drive-through had passed. In addition to the convenience of fast-food restaurants, pricing becomes a factor. Many low-income families find it a benefit with fast-food restaurants and their “value meals.” Because of the slow economy, many restaurants now have value plans that a family of four cannot resist. Although restaurants have worked with the consumer to offer healthier foods, the price point for healthier foods is higher than that of a meal less healthy.
According to KidsHealth.org (February, 2009), “many kids are spending less time exercising and more time in front of the television, computer, or video game console. And today’s busy families have fewer free moments to prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals. From fast food to electronics, quick and easy is the reality for many people in the new millennium”. Children today spend more time with electronics, be it the television, computer, or video game. Before the world became more dependent on these electronics, kids were involved in more outdoor physical activities. Last week while babysitting a two year-old girl, she wanted to run around and play outdoors. It wasn’t convenient at the time, so I whipped out my iPhone and found a cartoon on youtube.com for her to watch. I realized that I too am a culprit that deprived a child of exercise. “The value of physical activity to normal growth and development, including the health and well-being of children and adolescents is undisputed” (Hills, King and Armstrong 2007, p. 533-546).
The risks for serious health conditions are contributed by childhood obesity. The risks...
References: Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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