Imagine having a son, daughter, friend, or even a possible acquaintance that happens to be 10pounds over their general weight range. 10 pounds may not seem too much in this day and age but being diagnosed “obese” also means the chance of facing multiple health risks, psychological damage, and other life affecting illnesses. Obesity is a rapidly increasing disease that is spreading across America in children that must be faced and put an end to now. Some say the “children are the future” so how will we feel when children have to unwilling grow up with challenges because they unintentionally became obese? This disease can possibly be prevented but only through education in a healthier nutrient lifestyle.
Through mass media televisions, magazines, and commercials seem to have all focused on topics that are trending with debate within the U.S. such as abortion, legalizing of gay marriage, or even legalization of marijuana. All of which has taken away the attention of this rising epidemic other wise known as obesity. Overweight children are more likely to experience health problems that can drastically affect development through their adolescent years. The risks associated with obesity include asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and a higher risk of obtaining chronic conditions like stroke; breast, colon, and kidney cancers. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist “Over the past 30 years, the prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled for the children 2 to 5 years of age and youth 12 to 19, and it has quadrupled for children 6 to 11 years of age.” It is a startling statistic that although we are continuously battling against obesity it seems as though our efforts have not made a significant achievement. Changes must be made in the current process of how we deal with this situation, going from government involvement, to the parents of young children, and most importantly how to transition the new information in to the daily lives of Americans.
For a person who is naturally born fit and appears to have a healthy ideal body weight, they may grow up thinking a person who is overweight and obese must choose to live that way. It must be their fault because every person has the will power to control what they eat, quantity and proportion wise. But in fact the cause of obesity is more complicated than that, it involves multiple contributing factors that deal with genetic, biology, and cultural environment. Obesity typically happens when a person eats more calories than they can burn; eventually the weight just collectively sits there and thus how the individual gains weight. Children going from the early stages of being infants look to their parents as the source of nourishment. Parents ultimately have the power and control over the selection of what they choose to buy for their kids. “If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that their children will also be obese. However when both parents are obese, the children have an 80 percent chance of being obese” (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 79) The problem does not come from the children but the lifestyle parents have enabled them to live with, healthier choices should be made when considering what to eat. Providing a positive image so that the children can follow in the same footsteps. If parents in the United States continue to live with unhealthy choices the cycle will never end, and obesity in children will persist.
Searching for the perfect body may lead you on a quest that may cost you thousands of dollars, restrict on what you eat, spending countless hours in the gym, or possibly even your life. “We are taught that excessive body weight and fat are undesirable through advertisements, the media, and social ridicule” (Kearney p32) A persons body image can be the most important feature to a person, and it is something all children during their adolescent years to even adults come across. The perception of weight has drastically changed from the past, as celebrities present day are now extremely thin. It is as if the ideal body image is suppose to look like runway models, which causes people, both men and women an urge to achieve the same physique. Other forms of media that contribute to the idea of being “thin” include magazines, books, and advertisement. These forms of media use specific angle of visions in which they target the generation of younger Americans. One study concluded that “The 10 popular magazines most commonly read by young men and women were examined to assess weight loss and body images for both audiences, women’s magazines contained 10.5 times as many advertisements and articles promoting weight loss as men’s magazines.” (Anderson &DiDomenico, 1992) With body image being such a trending topic, people have undergone extreme measures in hopes of having the same body as their celebrity idol or model. Anorexia and bulimia are both eating disorders in which the individual chooses to skip out on meals, reduce their portion intake, and also purging after meals. This alternative solution to losing weight is extremely dangerous, as it can become a disease and have life long health effects with detrimental risks. Another study stated “457 fourth grade children attending rural schools in central Iowa revealed that more than 60% of the children very often or sometimes wished they were thinner, worried about being fat, and weighed themselves everyday” (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992) The media has the ability and power over millions of people regarding sending influential messages, maybe if they chose to advocate a single healthy body image it would save people from the troubles of obesity and other eating disorders.
Medical assistance is required for the progression out of obesity, but not every level of income can afford help. “Obesity-associated annual hospital costs for children and youth have more than tripled over 2 decades, rising form $35million in 1979 to 1981 to $127million in 1997-1999” (American Heart association e490) Health care companies have been ineffectively providing certain guidelines that would help assess overweight children, and instead devoting more attention to current controversial topics like substance use, sexual behavior, and injury-related behavior. (A.H.A. e498) Being that there isn’t a cure for obesity, it is a lifelong battle that someone must go through. Self-motivation is one of the key factors in which someone can successfully achieve a healthy target weight. Along with relatively high prices for medical aid, there are not many alternative solutions for obese children looking to lose weight. Besides dieting and exercising, one resolution may be through the surgical process other wise known as gastric bypass. There have been certain questions brought up on the procedure of gastric bypass in the pediatric facilities, pertaining to the risks, post surgery effects, and probability of success. Even though children who are diagnosed as obese suffer emotionally and physically, there is nothing much they can change until medical rates have lowered and other surgical options are invented.
As the United States is a leading industrialized country with an abundance of agriculture, we have by far fewer numbers of malnutrition or starvation in comparison to developing or third world country. The United Nations food and agriculture Organization states, “925 million people are undernourished.” Could the task of feeding the less fortunate and the millions of starving people are more important than trying to prevent obesity in children only from America? In a global aspect more lives are affected by undernourishment but can also be saved through the help of government funding. This brings up the question of whether we should solely focus on a resolution for child obesity or transfer those funding and manpower over to defeating global hunger.
Obesity will be a trending topic as efforts made for the prevention against it has done very little in the past 30 years. This disease can affect anyone and it also brings many health complications that can lead to an early death. Being overweight or obese must be fought with the aid of friends, family, and most importantly as a country.
"American Heart Association Childhood Obesity Research Summit Report -- Daniels Et Al. 119 (15): E489." Circulation. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. .
“Gabel, Kathe A., and Kathy Kearney. “Promoting reasonable perspectives of body weight: issues for..” Proffesional School Counseling 1.5 (1998): 32 MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 5 Dec. 2010
"Global Issues: World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics 2010." World Hunger Notes Homepage. Web. 7 Dec. 2010. http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world hunger facts 2002.htm
"Obesity In Children And Teens." American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Web. 7 Dec. 2010. .