Health and Wellness
Obesity in children
Obesity is a growing problem with children in the world. Obesity is not an issue that is just United States specific, many countries are dealing with overweight and obese children. “Obesity in children has more than doubled in the past 30 years and it is thought to continue to grow” (Whiteman). With obesity in children on the rise diseases and health issues is also rising. There are two reasons for these rises in obesity, and they are children do not get as much physical activity as they did ten or twenty years ago. Children spend their time in doors playing games, watching TV or roaming the internet instead of outside playing with friends or taking walks. The other reason is children are consuming many more calories and fatty food then the earlier generations did, there was very limited amount of processed foods 30 years ago. The negative effects of obesity are overwhelming. Obesity puts a child at risk of so many issues and illnesses like high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, weak joints, weak lungs, poor blood quality, and many types of cancer. Obese children can also develop difficulties in their social and emotional lives, because they may not like themselves or the way they look of their peers may tease them. Children that are obese tend to have lower self-esteem then not overweight or obese children do. Low self-esteem can create a completely new problem for the child. Being obese is not always the fault of the way the child eats or exercises, sometimes obesity can be genetic meaning it can run in families. “If one parent is obese there is a 50 percent chance that the children will be obese and if both parents are obese the likelihood of the children being obese increases to 80 percent” (Obesity). This epidemic of obesity can be slowed down or even stopped if a few steps are taken to help children achieve a balanced diet and increased amount of physical activity. There are many causes and many effects of obesity, but they all can be stopped with a little effort.
What is obesity and when is a child considered obese not just overweight? Obesity is defined as having excess body fat, so a child is obese when there “weight is ten percent high then the recommended weight for their height, age, and body type” (Obesity). Obesity normally starts at a very young age, like 5 or 6. Children this age start to consume foods that are high in fat and in sugar, as these children get older they consume more calories than the average child should have. The mix of too many calories and not enough exercise/physical activity causes the child to put on fat, if this cycle continues the chances that the child will become obese are very great. “Research shows that almost one third of the U.S. children between the ages four and nineteen eat fast food every day, this results in about six extra pounds a year per child.” (NACHRI) Unhealthy eating has increased so much do to the availability and price of foods that are high in fat and sugar. Add the unhealthy eating with the decline of physical activity causes increase in weight in children.
Technology also has a role in the obesity epidemic. With all of the new gadgets and games out now days children are not going outside to play and burn off calories they are playing video game, surfing the web, texting friends, watching TV or even riding in cars. “Children now spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media”(Whiteman). Children no long ride their bikes to their friend’s house or to school parents drive them. Parents done feel safe letting their children go out alone like they did even a decade ago. Streets are now unsafe. Children can’t walk to the park alone or to the store to pick up something for their parents, they have to be driven (Child). Parks are a great way for children to get some physical activity, but they are no longer safe. Children can’t hang out alone at parks anymore they need a parent watching them and parents work, so children don’t get to go to the park as much, they are kept home, resulting in more use of technology and sitting around.
Money also plays a role in the rise of obesity. Children from families that are considered low income or poverty normally do not receive the right amount of nutrition and they are just feed foods that are cheap which means food that it is preceded and high in fat and sugar. Not having enough money can also affect a child’s physical activity. Many schools now days charge when a child in a physical education class or even for a child to play sports. This charge is not to discourage children from activities it is just to help schools pay for equipment and teachers. Low budget schools sometimes do not even offer and physical activity classes because they can’t afford it, it’s not a core class (Child). Budgets in schools can really effect a child not just with their education, but also with their health, having a low budget forces schools to serve lunches that are high in empty calories and they now don’t offer exercise as much as they did. Money is a key reason for many problems, but who knew that obesity was one of these problems.
There are serious problems that result from obesity, some are physical health problems and some are emotional and social problems, some are immediate and some are long-term. Children who are obese are more likely to develop “heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, gall bladder dieses, asthma, cancer, and bone and joint problems”, these problems normally don’t start effecting the child until later in their life (Childhood). Children do develop immediate problems during childhood these are likely to be sleeping problems, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and low self-esteem (Obesity). Many of the immediate problems that obese children develop are not directly tied to the health of the child they are tied to how the child that is obese is treated by his peers. Children that are obese or even overweight are often teased by other children, which can result in low self-esteem and depression. When children are depressed they normally sleep a lot they lose interest in the activities that they enjoyed. An even bigger issue comes with child obesity, when the child feels depressed they often feel worthless and this feeling can cause them to want to take their life. Obesity is the 2 leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. “Each year round 300,000 people die from unhealthy weight gain due to lack of exercise and unhealthy diet (Obesity).”
What is obesity costing the world or even just the Unites States? Obesity has an effect on the economy, not just on the people with the condition, “the estimated annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $ 100 billion” (Obesity). $100 billion is a lot of money as time goes by that adds up. Society does not just pay for the cost of obesity, but the person with it also does. A person with obesity will have higher health care costs than an underweight person. High health care cost takes money away from the person budget and can prevent them from buying healthier foods or even exercise. The person with obesity also sacrifices there quality of life and years of life. Obesity has an effect on everyone not just a single person.
There are steps that can be taken to prevent or even reverse obesity, but these steps are not easy they take time energy and a little money. The first step should be to cut down caloric intake to the appropriate amount and to eliminate certain foods from the child diet. This step takes time from the parents and the want from the child. Nothing can be done unless both parts want to improve. Parents can help their child with this step by not offering fast food, not using food as a treat or reward and by buying only healthy food for their house. A treat every now and then is not bad, cutting out favorite foods all together will make the child want the food more and cause them to break the diet of health. There are nutritional tools out there to help parents and children. One good tool is the food pyramid, it shows the rights amount of servings of each food group a person should have. Children should be familiar with the food pyramid it will help them stay on track to a healthy lifestyle.
The best way for a parent to help a child who is struggling with obesity is be a good example, children watch there parents and if a child sees healthy eating and physical activity the child is more likely to be like the parents. Parents can set up plans for their child and for them. Meal plans and physical activity plans are a good place to start. Having meals planed out for the child can ensure the child gets the right servings of each food group. A physical activity plan is a get way to get children out and doing activates that will burn off calories. Times should be set up were the whole family goes and does some form of physical activity, weather it is playing a game in the back yard or going for a walk. If a child sees that the whole family is doing it they will not feel like exercise is a punishment. Parents can also help by limiting their child’s time with media, phones, games, and computers. Limiting media time will give the child more time to be active. It is important that children and parents know how to help prevent and help treat obesity. “Obesity is one of the easiest medical conditions to recognize but one of the most difficult to treat”, if parents understand and know how to help treat their child, the child has more of a chance of losing weight and being healthy (Obesity).
Obesity is very common in the United States. Children are diagnosed as being obese every day in the United States, the increase in fast food and sugar intakes has a lot to do with it. Over the few past decades, the number of obese children has risen to scary numbers. Obesity in children ages 6-11 has risen 11 percent from 1980 to 2012, the rising obesity rates puts future generations at more of a risk for developing obesity (Childhood). Obesity is a serious issue and it needs to be handled, parents need to follow guidelines put forth and make their children follow guidelines. Obesity is preventable it just takes time and energy form many people.
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"Childhood Obesity Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. “NACHRI Childhood Obestiy Statistics and Facts”Childrens Hospital Association, 06 Nov. 2008.Web.5 Oct. 2014
"Obestiy in Children and Teens ." American Academy of Child & Adolecent Psyc hiarty.AACAP, Mar. 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Whiteman, Honor. "Childhood obesity: is it being taken seriously?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 30 Jul. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.