Free «The Childhood Obesity Epidemic» Essay Sample

This is a condition where the health of a child or a grown up person is being negatively affected by excess body fats in their bodies. Body mass index commonly referred to as BMI is always used as a measure of obesity though methods of determination of body fats prove difficult. Obesity is currently being considered a serious health concern due to the rising prevalence of obesity in people especially young children and is being given relevant attention by concerned authorities as it has proved to have many adverse health effects. The tem obesity is not preferably used in growing children as it is stigmatizing, instead the term overweight is normally preferred. Body mass index is usually used in determination of obesity for young children who have reached two years of age. There is a great variation of BMI in children and it varies according to sex and age.

There are many problems associated with obesity in children. One of the first problems associated with obesity in children psychological or emotional problems. Overweight children often suffer from teasing by their friends and age mates and this leads to stigmatization as one may feel not liked or taken advantage of hence resort to doing things alone. Some of the overweight children are discriminated upon and harassed by their peers and even family members and this can lead to depression and low self esteem impacting heavily on their lives. There are many severe conditions that can be life threatening that includes heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and many other health related disorders. Some of the heath complications as a result of obesity in children include liver diseases, eating disorders, many respiratory diseases and to some extent skin infections.

It is also known that overweight children have very high chances of growing up to be overweight adults unless specific measures are taken to counter the process. An overweight condition during adolescence is considered dangerous as it increases mortality rates when one has grown up (Ferry).

Childhood obesity can be caused by a wide range of factors that are known to work together that include genetic and environmental factors. Typically, gain of weight in any human body is as a result of a person consuming more calories than they should expend. A large calorie surplus in ones body is therefore needed for one to experience overweight condition. Dietary is considered the most common and direct cause of obesity in children though the effects of eating habits on the condition of children being overweight are difficult and complicated to determine. There should be a balanced expenditure of calories in a child's body for them not to experience obesity. Insufficient calorie expenditure is therefore a major cause of obesity in children. Most of the children today spend most of their leisure time in activities such as watching movies, television, playing video games and many others of the sort (Ferry). Very few calories from the children bodies are expended during this inactive leisure activities and making it more likely for these children to become overweight. Overweight conditions are significantly higher among children who spend most of their time engage in such sedentary activities compared to children who involve themselves in other activities that consume a lot of calories such as sports and extra curricular activities that are physical.

Most of the children enjoy snacking. Excessive snaking is a probable cause of overweight condition in children. Many parents give their children money for snacks and snacking has become very common in today's lifestyles. Most of the snacks have high calories and when taken in excess, it significantly increases the calories in ones body. Most of our learning institutions and work places are surrounded by snack vending machines that are responsible for dispensing high calorie snacks and sugary drinks thereby making them more vulnerable.

Fast foods have become a major part in many people's lives and they are considered to be foods with very high calorie content. Excessive consumption of fast foods is another cause of obesity among children. The fast food industry is growing fast and it is thought that many fast food stores and chains target children and teenagers in their attractive advertisements making them victims of their high caloric content food stuffs. Family behavior's is another factor considered to cause obesity among the children. Children of overweight parents are estimated to have more chance of becoming overweight themselves compared to children of normal parents. However, this has nothing to do with heredity as most of the children become victims of poor eating habits and poor family nutrition. Parental behavioral patterns in terms of cooking, exercise, shopping and eating have a great influence on children's behaviors, energy balance and in the end weight conditions. Distorted body image is also thought to encourage overweight conditions in children. Distorted body image can result from parental influence that includes their attitude towards loss of weight and dieting. Peer pressure is also a major contributor to distorted body image (Ferry).

This may seem unlikely but obesity in children is believed to have genetic causes too. Genes in ones body are known to affect a great number of weight related metabolic processes in the body. Hormones, the body's' metabolic rate, fat storage and blood glucose metabolism are some of the processes and things that are influenced by the body's genetic inheritance. This is supported by the fact that some children especially the adopted children usually develop weight problems comparable to their biological parents rather that their adopted parents. New born babies of overweight mothers tend to gain more weight faster compared to new borne of normal mothers. In the contrary, as much as genetic factors may have effects on the weight of a child as a result of its effect on metabolic processes, these genetic factors can not be responsible for the sudden surge in childhood obesity.

There exist a time when a person feels their weight or a child's weight has reached a point when medical care is needed. If the school personnel think that a child is overweight, if a child has expressed concerns about keeping up with peers in terms sports or general physical fitness or he or she has personally expressed concerns about their weight, then it is advisable to seek medical care. It is believed that parents are the greatest tool when it comes to treatment of obesity in children. Nutritionist and health care providers may have a role to play but parents should do a better part to curb obesity in children (Ferry).

This is because parents bare most of the control over their children's activities and habits and therefore they are in the better position to provide positive changes that can manage obesity. The first initiative a parent can take is become more supportive to their child mainly because a child's feelings about him or herself are partly determined by the parent's feelings about their child. Children should feel loved and accepted given any situation and this is the first step if you want to change their habits. Children should never be criticized because it causes more harm than good. Rather, they should be encouraged. The goal in trying to deal with obesity in children is never weight loss as it may prove difficult to achieve. The goal is to stop or slow weight gain in such children. The concept here is to allow the obese children grow back into their body weight a process that is gradual. This involves some changes in the habits of the entire family and not the single child who is obese. Wrong eating habits should be discouraged and more appropriate eating habits encouraged. Physical activities should be introduced and sedentary activities such as watching television and video games be discouraged. It is not necessarily that an obese child would grow into an obese adult, therefore these measures can work and a child can develop into a normal adult and lead a normal life.


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