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Childhood obesity has become a nationwide epidemic; we are having children who are overweight. The number of adults suffering from overweight has tripled in three decades, and the number of children who are obese has more than doubled. We as adults need to show children how eating in a right way and having a good exercise routine can benefit them. Prevention is the only way that we can change the situation.

Problem

Children these days are going down the wrong path, they are not eating right. African Americans and Mexican Americans seem to be the hardest hit. According to the NHANES survey, 23% of the obese children were African Americans and 21% were Mexican Americans and 14% non-Hispanic white. One of the reason it affects this group of children is the life style. Some families cannot afford to take their children to a work out center. Most children fail to adhere to the right eating habits. There has been a great shift in the type of foods children consume these days (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2005).

One will wonder what really happened to consumption of food like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Children prefer taking sugary drinks, processed snacks and fast food. They fail to understand that these are the exact foods that contribute greatly to obesity. The reason why these foods are a health hazard is due to their calorie and fat level. They lack important nutrients that children need for their growth and development. Adults can agree with me that most children just eat for the sake of it. They do not have a major reason why they need food.  The appeal of food is the major contributor to consuming food without plan.  Obesity is also associated with snacking while carrying out an assignment or watching television.

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Physical inactivity is another major contributor to the increasing level of obesity among children. Most children in the United States prefer playing video games instead of working out. It is, therefore, hard for these individuals to lose calories. As much as we try to be role models for our children, parents should also remember that they contribute greatly towards high levels of obesity in children. Research indicates that very few parents in the US are willing to carry out physical exercise. They not only fail to participate in physical exercise, but also discourage their children from engaging in activities that promote physical exercise. For instance, most parents tend to think that some sporting activities are dangerous; they, therefore, discourage their children from participating in them (World Health Organization, 2000).

Research indicates that inherited disorder and chemical imbalance can lead to obesity among children. In addition, there are certain medications known to lead to weight gain through alteration of food processing and storage of fats by the body.  The type of environment children live in can also lead to obesity. For instance, children who stay in an area full of supermarkets that sell junk food will definitely become obese because of high levels of consumption of such foods.  It is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to ensure that children are protected from obesity through the provision of the right feeding habits (World Health Organization, 2000).

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Medical Problems

Weight status of children is determined using sex specifics and age percentile. This is because the composition of children’s body varies from time to time. CDC Growth Chart helps to determine BMI in children. What lie ahead for children who are obese is numerous amounts of health issues; this could be heart disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, and the orthopedic problems. Study has indicated that 70% of children suffering from obesity have a cardiovascular disease. In addition, children suffering from obesity have type 2 diabetes and low glucose tolerance. Among these problems, type 2 diabetes seems to be the health issue that is hitting our youth hard. Musculoskeletal discomfort, sleep apnea, heartburn, asthma, joint problems and gallstones are all caused by obesity.  The health issues will continue to mount until we, as a generation, take action and stop the issue of obesity (World Health Organization, 2000).

Children suffering from obesity usually have low self-esteem. Their fellow peers do not accept them. Most of them are ridiculed and made feel bad about their physical appearance. This is the reason why most of them prefer secluding themselves from the rest of the peers. This is quite unhealthy for the well-being of a child, because children need to socialize in order to develop.  It is a lack of socialization that leads to poor performance in class. In order to avoid all these health conditions among children, adults are advised to become vigilant and ensure healthy living (World Health Organization, 2000).

Tests and Exams

It is important that caregivers understand different tests and exams that are used in determining obesity in children. The first test is carried out using weight-to-height tables. These tables are important because they provide the right and wrong weights of children depending on their heights. Health practitioners argue that children weighing above 20% of what is considered to be a normal weight are obese. These tables can give wrong data if used inappropriately.  This is because they fail to consider every child’s characteristics. In order to interpret the chart, children’s growth patterns and age must be taken into consideration (World Health Organization, 2000).

Another way of determining obesity in children is through calculation of the percentage of body fat. Boys are expected to have less than 25% fat while girls should have less than 32% fat for them to be considered as healthy. Most health organizations are not able to carry out this health activity because equipments for measuring the percentage of body fat are very expensive. Body mass index is another method used to determine the obesity. This method is not only used in children, but also in adults. In calculating BMI, one is expected to measure a weight of a person before dividing it by height. Measurement of the waist circumference is another method of determining obesity (World Health Organization, 2000).

Treatment of Obesity

Parents play a vital role in ensuring that children have the correct weight. Nutrition consultants and health care providers are also important, but their role cannot be useful if parents fail to adhere to their advise. Most parents have failed when it comes to caring for obese children. They do not provide these individuals with the necessary support. Children who are scolded by their parents often feel worthless. It is, therefore, important for parents to ensure continuous support by encouraging these children to carry out physical activities. Parents should make their children understand that they are accepted the way they are, regardless of their weight. In addition, parents should make their children understand that through hard work, they can be able to obtain the same weight as their peers. The most crucial thing for parents to take note of is that a weight loss in obese children needs patience. Parents should never give up on ensuring that their children lose at least two pounds each month. All family members should be involved in providing support to an obese individual. This is important because this child will feel that all his or her family members appreciate him (World Health Organization, 2000).

Prevention

Diet management and physical activities are important in ensuring the weight control. Children and adults should, therefore, create a positive attitude towards activities that ensure weight control. Parents can help in molding their children towards adopting appropriate feeding habits.  The earlier children are taught on the need of healthy living, the better. Healthcare providers should, therefore, set the right pace that will help children to control their weight (Effective Child Obesity Prevention Tips, 2011).

Physical Exercise

We, as adults, need to set an example on how we want our young adults to lose the weight and keep it off. This all starts at home with the parents. We, as parents, cannot ask our children to lose weight if we are ourselves are overweight. Parents by example should show these young people that overweight is not a health issue they have to live with. The family needs to eat in a right way and cut out the calories by avoiding potato chips, cookies and high fat milk in their daily ration. In addition, people should have no in-between snacks and be more active around the house, not just laying on sofa, watching TV and playing video games. That’s the problem with our society; with the invention of video games and computer games, children have begun staying indoors instead of getting outdoors and being more active to work off the calories they have taken that day. Restrictions are, therefore, to be set in ensuring that children do not only idle by watching and playing video games, but also carry pout physical activities. Surgeons recommend that children should be allowed at least an hour to carry out physical activities. Activities like skating and swimming are highly recommended in ensuring a loss of calories. Children should be advised to avoid activities that make them overheated or exhausted, because they can be a health hazard (Effective Child Obesity Prevention Tips, 2011). 

As parents, we should avoid choosing for our children activities they engage in, but rather allow them to explore. In so doing, these children will be able to identify different activities that they find enjoyable. As it was earlier stated, most parents do not like the idea that their children participate in sports, especially at school. Parents should be made aware that involvement in sports is important for weight controlling.  The role of a parent is to offer advice to his or her child. This means that before allowing a child to engage in any activity, a parent is required to provide safety rules. Making a child understand the advantages and disadvantages of engaging in a certain activity, this is important for it allows a child to make his or her personal decision on whether participate in a given activity or not. Water is equally important during physical exercise, because it helps in replacing lost fluids (Effective Child Obesity Prevention Tips, 2011).

Diet Management

Diet management is another strategy that is useful for obesity prevention. As a parent, one is supposed to be adequately equipped with the nutritional needs of his or her child. It, therefore, means that parents should educate themselves on the right diet, and through this education they will be able to comprehend how well they can take care of their children. People should not prepare food the nutritional value of which they are not sure for their children or family. It is always important that parents consult from different healthcare providers on the right type of foods they can offer their children. Health care providers are important in providing recommendations, as well as providing reference of the right nutritionist to consul (Effective Child Obesity Prevention Tips, 2011).

Some parents do not always involve their children in meal preparation as well as shopping. Involving children in these activities is important because it provides them with knowledge on the right ways of preparing nutritious food. Dictating what children should eat is highly discouraged. Just like physical activities, children should be provided with an opportunity to choose the kind of food they would like to eat. This is important because it helps a parent to determine whether his or her child understands the right type of food it should eat (World Health Organization, 2000).

The fact that snacks are highly discouraged does not mean that children should not consume them. The only thing parents ought to know is that these types of foods are to be offered in the right quantities for them to be useful. Some nutritious snacks can be useful in providing children with energy necessary for carrying out homework and sports before taking supper.  Children should, however, not be allowed to overdo them, for they are the major contributors towards obesity (Effective Child Obesity Prevention Tips, 2011).

Slow eating is important, for it helps children to realize when they are full. The reason why most children acquire poor feeding habits is due to the lack of unity, especially during mealtime. Parents are encouraged to ensure that all family members take meals together. This is important, for it makes children enjoy their meals through speaking out their different experiences (Effective Child Obesity Prevention Tips, 2011).

Snack and Meal Suggestion

Families should ensure that children eat vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Each meal should have low fat. Beans and meat group foods are highly recommended for ensuring healthy living. An example of this is fish, eggs, lean meat and nuts. Fat from meat should be trimmed all the times. In addition, fried food should be avoided at all cost (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2005).

Physical Education

Schools themselves have to play a major part in keeping our children active. Physical Education should play a major role in helping them out. In addition, after school activities would help our young people to maintain a normal weight, we need to keep them involved in such activities as track, basketball, baseball. School lunches themselves need to become healthier. We need to start the prevention programs and get our children on track. If we do not, all we are doing is causing more obesity in children, which will get worse with time. These children deserve a chance to have things in life that children who are not obese have. With our guidance and help, we can help them to achieve it (Hayes, 2004).

Follow up

It is important that parents develop appropriate habits that will enable their children to stay healthy. As a parent, one is expected to avoid over feeding his or her child. One way towards this is ensuring that children eat at the right time. Parents should avoid forcing their children to eat when it’s not necessary. Parents should make children understand that it is important for them to take their meals slowly. This is because one tends to consume a lot when he or she tries to rush meals. Parents are advised to avoid using deserts or food as a way of rewarding children who complete their meals. Most parents have failed when it comes to the provision of a balanced diet. This can be attributed to the fact that some parents lack necessary education concerning consumption of right foods (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2005).

Fast foods have turned to be disastrous not only to the well being of our children, but also adults. It is, therefore, important that parents monitor the type of food their children consume. They should ensure that fast foods are avoided at all cost. As much as children love sugary drinks, it is the role of parents to minimize consumption of drinks like sodas and encourage their children to drink a lot of water. We cannot fail to appreciate the impact video games have on our children. They help them to unwind, which is very important to a child. It should also be noted that these stated games could be a major contributor towards obesity in our children. It is, therefore, important that parents try to limit the amount of time their children spend on playing video and computer games. The reason why children use wrong foods is that they do not know how to differentiate between healthy foods and those that are not. Parents are, therefore, advised to teach their children proper exercise and eating habits. The bond that exists between a child and his parents is very important. Parents should try to find time to play with their children (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2005).

Guidelines from American Heart Association Dietary

American Heart Association Dietary provides guidelines that are important to both children and adults, in ensuring that they avoid risky situations that can lead to obesity. The first step is achieving nutrition through consumption of various foods. Individuals are advised to consume foods rich in energy in order to develop and gain an appropriate body weight. Saturated fat should not be more than 10%. Total fat is required to be less than 25%, and, finally, cholesterols should never exceed 300mg. It is important that all family members adhere to these guidelines. The main concern of parents should be boosting their children’s self-esteem, as well as providing strategies through which obese children can do away with emotional distress (Hayes, 2004).

Outlook

Obese children are more vulnerable to contracting the following diseases: asthma, heart failure, liver problems, joint problems, Diabetes type 2, social problems, acne and growth abnormalities, unlike those that are not obese. Obese children with obesity are likely to suffer from Gout, Gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, stroke and heart disease during adulthood (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2005).

American Obesity Association

American Obesity Association is mainly interested in ensuring that people perceive obesity differently. It has been noted that most people discriminate against obese individuals. This association tries to provide parents and other healthcare providers appropriate guidelines to be used in preventing obesity. In addition, it tries to suggest several methods that can be used for curing obesity. In achieving its goals, the organization uses education, advocacy and lobbying. Parents suspecting their children to be at risk of being affected are advised to seek medical attention. Doctors are important, for they will help in reviewing a child’s medical history, as well as growth charts (Hayes, 2004).

Conclusion

Obesity continues being a great threat to the well being of our children.  It is important that parents and healthcare providers formulate appropriate strategies through which this epidemic can be done away with. It should be noted that obesity does not only affect children, but also adults. Prevention is the only sure way through which this epidemic can be eradicated. Most people do not understand well how they can prevent obesity. Parents are advised to ensure their children are on proper diet. In addition, physical exercise is very important. Children should, therefore, be advised to participate in useful activities that can boost their health. This is important, for it will protect children against diseases like heart disease, cardiovascular and joint problems. All people should rise to the occasion in ensuring that the obesity free world goal is attained.  

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