Family plays a huge part in the growing epidemic of child hood obesity. But luckily to these families there are now many developing programs to aid their children into developing good eating habits. While in some lifestyle interventions even prescription drugs are now available to these unfortunate children. I do say unfortunate because in a sense it is not the fault of these children but the stupidity and laziness of their parents. Adding weight controlling drugs such as orlistat or sibutramine seem to help them in their recovery. In 2003 a study found that possibly no program or intervention would have effect on the children. But Hiltje Oude Luttikhuis of the Beatrix Children’s Hospital and the Department of Epidemiology in Groningen, Netherlands has found that these family oriented interventions along with diet and exercise diminish childhood obesity. It is said that worldwide 10 % of 5-17 year olds are overweight and 2-3% are overweight. While in America 30% and in Europe 20% of children are considered to be obese. The odd trend in America is that the poor and the rich are more likely to be obese. So where does this leave the middle class? The real problem lies in deciding which aspects of these lifestyle interventions are effective and which are not. Let us not forget the many variables that go into the studies such as self-esteem what type of character the obese child has. Obesity in society today is a serious issue with many health issues and social consequences that don't look to be fixed anytime soon. Is it any wonder? Take a look around; obesity is a disease that is on the rise affecting more and more people each year. In the USA 58 million Americans are overweight, 40 million are obese and three million are morbidly obese. These numbers are insane as eight out of ten Americans over the age of twenty-five are overweight. In 2001 a survey conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of obesity in America it was found that sixty-one percent of Americans are overweight. .Obesity has become a plague taking a toll on the American society in epidemic proportions. Parents look at their children and see promise, hope, and future. No parent wants to set their child up for failure. Parents strive to set their children up for success. This is done by influencing and training children up starting at a young age. Is a child being set up for success if the child is obese and unhealthy by the time they enter Kindergarten? How can an obese child have a confident and positive self esteem if on the first day of school they suddenly learn what it feels like to not fit in? This is how it was for my cousin, who never felt out of place for four years. Then suddenly on her first day of school she learned a lesson in cruelty, acceptance, and appearance. It was at this point when her mother put her youngest child on a diet. This thought is baffling since having a healthy lifestyle has been etched into young American minds since childhood. For example, “Got Milk?” commercials on television advertise how milk can build strong bones and “does a body good”. The DARE programs at schools inform children how to “say no to drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol”. DARE programs even go as far as to give each child a certificate of graduation. I am concerned about the price these children will have to pay as they become adults. There are the many diseases that come with the affliction of obesity. Also weight plays a huge part in one personal image. With no ownership of quality self-esteem one is likely to commit suicide. If they do not decide to even go that far it will always be extremely hard for them to find a job or enter into a relationship of love. Low self-esteem causes many problems that will not be a positive factor in one becoming a functioning member of society. Also with obesity come the many health risks involved: heart disease, cancer, diabetes and too many others to list. My mother who herself is obese is susceptible to all of these diseases because of our family history. So I pray that she and all other Americans do something for themselves and our nation by undergoing a lifestyle intervention or maybe even thinking of the possibility of taking some of the weight reduction pills listed above. The childhood obesity epidemic is now affecting babies as young as one. There is even a hospital in Sydney Australia that is treating babies that are twice the normal weight that they should weigh. The hospital has a year waitlist if you are trying to get your child in to see a weight management specialist. This clinic which is the only one of the state has 150 children between the ages of 1 and 16. Shirley Alexander states “a one year old who should be 10kg is actually 20kg or a two year old who should be 12kg is 25kg(Alexander).” This is an alarming statistic considering how obese these children will be when they are adults if they even make it to adulthood. Will they make it with their high risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes? We would like to hope so considering they are only children. Since they are only children what should be done of the parents? It is not as if they say hey I want a cheeseburger I am going to drive to the nearest fast food restaurant. The parents are in control of what type of food their children are eating. The parents of these children need to take a look at what they are doing to their kids. In a sense they are slowly killing their children. Alexander also tells “we are seeing children who can’t walk properly or wipe themselves because they are obese(Alexander).” How is it that the parents can stand to see their offspring suffer? Who would allow their children to be so overweight that it is impossible to walk? These children are being robbed of their childhood. A child cannot play with anyone if they cannot even walk. Beginning in the late 1970’s early 80’s overweight and obesity rates in adults, teens, and children have soared. With these raised statistics come more heightened concerns about the diseases that come with the harsh reality of being obese. The obese face a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The sad truth is that the epidemic is most prevalent in children. These raised rates of obesity can be attributed to technology and the need for less work that comes with it, and the high calorie instant gratification of all restaurants and the unlimited supply of vending machines at every street corner. Along with these hurdles then come the things that are uncontrollable such as genes and our environment. So after realizing these effects on our weight where do we start as a whole? Meals at restaurants can reach upwards of 1,000 calories. Calorie listings on all menus are a great starting point. Luckily others have noticed this and a handful of states have started legislation requiring the owners of the restaurants to do so. Next maybe a revamping of the physical education courses throughout should occur. The United States of America should take the lead with government funded advertisements to encourage people to be aware of what they are feeding their children and themselves. Why not start at the beginning of life with breast feeding. “Breastfed infants tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner(Jacobson)” Michael F. Jacobson author of “The Battle to Lose” states. The STOP obesity alliance has released the “Obesity GPS” which is the first navigational tool developed to guide public and private decision makers as they determine the most successful routes towards reducing the overweight and obesity epidemic. “Policies and programs designed to take on the obesity epidemic are well-intentioned, but not always effective,” said Christine Ferguson, director of The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent or STOP Obesity Alliance. The obesity GPS is divided into four main sections that highlight the important questions that decision makers should consider related to overweight and obesity in our nation. It is great and motivating to know that an organization is finally taking a step in the right direction to try and win the fight against obesity. You have to believe that this tool will be effective in its purpose because of the fact that a past surgeon general helped to create it. “As surgeon General of the United States, I agreed with my fellow health care professionals, scientists, and public health leaders that we needed an evidence-based compass to help steer our decisions when developing programs and advising policymakers about health challenges related to overweight and obesity,” said Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States, and Health and Wellness Chairperson of the STOP Obesity Alliance. It is promising to see tools like this start to come to the surface of the fight against obesity. Other tools and groups must come forward if we expect to win this war. Another tool now being utilized to help win the war on overweight citizens is family based programs including behavior therapy. The Cochrane Review which is a family based lifestyle intervention program focuses on physical activity, diet modification, drug therapy and behavior therapy. The Cochrane Review has helped obese children lose weight and maintain that loss for at least six months. This program is making great progress considering that just a few years back in 2003 a systematic review was performed and could not find enough data to draw any conclusions about the effects of different programs. This time the researchers identified 64 randomized controlled trials involving 5230 participants which helped prove their research credible. “It is now clear that family-based, lifestyle interventions that include a behavioral program aimed at changing diet and physical activity provide significant and clinically meaningful decreases in overweight and obesity in both children and adolescents compared with standard care or self help regimes(Wiley-Blackwell),” says lead researcher Hiltje Oude Luttikhuis, who works at Beatrix Children’s Hospital and the Department of Epidemiology in Groningen, Netherlands. With the worldwide obesity epidemic continuing to gain pace this is great leap forward to have findings of this significance. The International Obesity Taskforce now claims that, worldwide, 10 percent of 5-17 year olds are overweight and 2-3 percent are obese while also noting that statistically the less money you have the more likely that you are overweight. The Cochrane Review highlights the importance of effective treatment strategies for children and young people already affected by the problem of obesity. Although much was discovered by this review there are many questions left unanswered. “We need to find out what types or aspects of different interventions work better for different groups of children, depending on their age, gender, socioeconomic background, faith or ethnic groups. The importance of self-esteem in influencing how successful an intervention will be. And whether there are any characteristics of individual families or patients that could help indentify success, require further effort by researchers,” says Oude Luttikhuis(Wiley-Blackwell). When examined the relationship between fast-food restaurants near schools and obesity among middle and high school students in California the statistics were astounding. It was found that students with fast-food restaurants near their schools ate fewer servings of fruits and vegetables, drank many more servings of soft drinks, and were more likely to be overweight than the children that attended schools that were not close to fast-food restaurants. Exposure to bad quality food environments has negative effects on adolescent eating patterns and overweight. Lawmakers need to come up with some new laws to limit the closeness of fast food restaurants to grammar and high schools. One major factor in Americans being fat is the fast food industry. With work, school, and other things of that nature, many Americans find that they have limited time to be able to sit down and have a meal. Americans more than ever are finding themselves going through drive through of fast food restaurants. The marketing of food to children is in the national spotlight as rates of childhood obesity rise in the United States. More than 9 million US children and adolescents are obese, and just as many are at risk of becoming obese. Health risks include asthma, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Fast food consumption by 2- to 18-year-olds increased 5 times from 1977 to 1995. Almost one third of all youths now eat at fast-food restaurants on any given day. One study reports that weekly consumption of fast food by young adults is directly related to obesity. Despite the possibility that proximity of fast-food restaurants to schools affects children's health, there has been no research to support this claim. Many studies have found that fast-food restaurants are more concentrated within a short walking distance of schools, giving children more access to low quality food, but these studies do not make an explicit connection between closeness to fast-food restaurants and children becoming overweight. Public health officials are faced with a new problem that requires new interventions that differ from anti-tobacco campaigns. Libertarians see second-hand smoke as a threat to their health, whereas an individual’s decision to eat at McDonald’s does not pose a threat to anyone else. Dr. Mello notes, “whereas settlement funds from tobacco lawsuits were available to pay for [antismoking] advertisements, counter advertising campaigns to encourage better nutrition would require public funding”. As a result, changing the social environment should be the number one priority. The public will respond favorably to balancing the number of junk food commercials with the number of healthy food commercials because it does not limit free speech, necessarily. A great way to influence eating habits is through public school interventions. Subsidizing fitness memberships should be seriously considered on the state level, because diet alone will provide limited results. Medicalizing the problem may seem counterproductive to public health officials; however, it forces Americans to realize the complexity of the epidemic and appreciate that it is not solely based on individual behavior. The United States is seen as a fat, lazy, and sloppy country and is losing respect and credibility throughout the world. The United States can combat obesity effectively when the public acknowledges that societal factors exist and when public health and medicine work as a coherent body dedicated to health. Obesity has become an epidemic in American society .The Unites States has even been termed an overweight nation. Some twenty to thirty percent of American adults are now considered obese. With this in mind, Americans constantly look around themselves determining their weight status as well as that of those around them. While some Americans do fit the healthy category, others enter the underweight, overweight, and even obese categories, all of which can be unhealthy. It is marked by body weight being more than thirty percent fat. Obese individuals constitute nearly thirty percent of the population. They are more susceptible to disease and death than those of normal weight. Obesity can be termed deviant for a variety of reasons. Not only is it unhealthy, but it is also a widely unaccepted behavior in US society. The obese are labeled obscene, lazy, slothful, and gluttonous. People are ostracized, often never to regain full societal acceptance. Prevention is necessary to decrease prevalence of obesity because few adults who actually do lose weight are able to keep it off. Obesity is attributable to many factors, nature and nurture included. Some individuals are inclined to blame the obese individual for his or her health status. Still others blame the heredity and/or ethnicity of the person. Many place the blame on more environmental sources. These might include, but are not limited to, education level, peer group, and socio-economic factors. The American Medical Association identifies genetic, environmental, and psychological influences on obesity. Obesity has become a very common thing these days in America. The numbers of obese people in America has increased incredibly over the years, who do we blame for it? Fast food restaurants? However, when it comes down to it, obesity is a combination of lifestyle, genetics, and psychological state of mind, exercise, and depression. The clinical definition of obesity is a relative term used to describe the condition of where the ratio of body fat, which is measurable, to the total body mass is higher than the accepted norm. Body fat is about fifteen percent of total body mass for the normal male adult and 20 to 25 percent for the normal female adult. Obesity and overweight are often used wrong because their technical definitions are different. Overweight refers to an excess of body weight that includes all tissues. Obesity refers to specifically to an excess of body fat. However, the fact that obesity has increased so much in the last few decades appears to show genetics as the main cause. The numbers of obesity is increasing in The United States America. American adults have grown an inch and gained almost twenty five pounds since the early sixties, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. America’s lifestyle is the main cause of obesity in The United States of America. We don’t have time to eat right or exercise. Americans make incorrect food choices instead choosing healthy food and the consequences are clearly visible on our bodies. These bad habits are passed on from parents to their children. As a result, children spend too much time watching TV or playing video games and eating pizza for dinner. These facts about obesity in America reflect the reality most of us face every day and the behavior that needs to be changed if we want to keep our families on a healthy track. Without change our countries obesity levels and worries will greatly out way our fear of global warming or terrorism. We need to treat obesity for what it is, a disease that requires preventative as well as weight-loss strategies.
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