A few decades ago, having a plump child was an evidence of a wealthy family which is taking care of a kid. But nowadays, child’s obesity became a sign of serious diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. It became a medical condition, which means that weight and height of a child are disproportional. Obesity is commonly observed in kids under the age of 15. Childhood obesity is considered to be a great epidemic disease, which has considerably grown since the last few decades. The number of children, who are suffering from the early stage obesity, has doubled since the 1970s. Approximately 30% of children in the USA are obese. Moreover, as for the nutrition problems, obesity has replaced malnutririon in some parts of Africa. In accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention more than 15% of children nowadays are overweight. Taking into consideration the death rate, obesity is well-known as the easiest disease, but it is recognized as the most difficult to treat. Indeed, approximately 300,000 deaths per year are associated with obesity-related health problems.
To begin with, it is pivotal to define what obesity is. Generally, obesity is a large amount of fat in the body. Obesity is greatly influenced by environmental, biological, behavioral and socioeconomic factors. It tends to increase the body weight in relation to the height, which usually appears to be under the standard or Body Mass Index (BMI). The usual way of calculating the BMI, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is the following: take the weight in pounds, divide it by height; then take the result of that calculation and divide it by height again; and multiply that number by 703. For instance, a 12 year old girl, 190 lbs in weight and 5'5'' in height, in compliance with the BMI formula, should have the following weight:
BMI = (190/65*65)* 703 =31, 6 (Schwimmer, J.B., Burwinkle, T.M and Varni, J.W., 2003)
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30% of adult obesity begins in childhood. But what is the prime source of its apparition? There is no single cause, which one can blame for such a high rate of childhood obesity. Children's habits are effected by numerous factors, which include an easy access to junk food and soda, not realizing the importance of healthy food, and not enough appropriate places where they can play and exercise. However, there are several factors that are considered to be of the great importance nowadays. These are: changes in lifestyle, irrational nutrition, genetics, and physical activity.
Children use different automatic techniques, automobiles, elevators instead of walking down and up the stairs. With the beginning of technological revolution children became more indifferent to the former ways of spending free time (pleasure-trips, hide-and-seek, and picnics) and started the excessive exploitation of computers, televisions and other electronic devices. From the first sight it seems not to be harmful at all, since children are sitting at home and they are completely under the control. But, on the other hand, it leads to the diminuition of liveliness, and that becomes the part and parcel of obesity formation. At the same time the school government is also responsible for kids’ illnesses. Reduction of physical training during the lessons is a reason of kids’ laziness. Decressed participation in physical activities not only cause obesity among children, but also increases the risk of hurting the blood pressure and bone strength.
Furthermore, parents also make a big mistake by hiring a babysitter. It is obvious that nannies do not want kids to be hurt that is why they prefer to spend more time with them at home. As a result children switch the computer or televion on and watch it all day long. The data assert that those kids, who watch televion more than five hours a day, have a bigger chance to put on weight (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2006).
Some changes in usual lifestyle can make a child suffer from obesity. Family embroilments, transfer to another city or even country, changes in a child`s circle of friends, truancy, parents’ divorce and other issues undoubtedly play a pivotal role in forming such a condition as kids’ depression. As a result of being constantly depressed children start eating unhealthy food in exaggerated amounts. Soon the food becomes their weak point, their comfortable friend that they can always be side by side with. And as a result of that they start gaining weight.
Genes, beign the part and parcel of an organism, play a crucial role in forming the human’s body. According to statistics, there is an 80 % chance for a child to be obese if both of his or her parents are overweighted. Additionally, if only one of the parents is obese, than the percentage level reduces to 40 %. There are also some genetic disorders, such as Prader Willi Syndrome, which is very rare nowadays, though it leads to obesity in children. The genetic impact is crucial since more than 45 % of obese people are suffering from it. It often happens that one can see a family walking down the street and it is not hard to mention that every member of this family has an excess weight. And not everybody can realize that it is not their fault that they look like this way, but this is because of their genes.
Inappropriate nutririon is one of the strongest causes of obesity. Consumption of big amount of high-calorie food and drinks causes young children to be overweight. It sometimes happens that conscious children try to grow thin by themselves, but often they only make their situation worse by not meeting the basic diet requirements. For instance, among questioned children in Colorado only 8 % answered that they eat vegetables more than three times a day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The rest answered that they are trying to take some medicine to make their body look fitter (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition program, 2006).
There can be 2 groups of effects of childhood obesity: physical effects and psychological effects. Physical problems include cardiovascular risks, such as heart failure and stroke. Other serious issues occurring as a result of obesity are: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Not less important are sleeping disorders, early sexual maturity and eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa. Moreover, children may suffer from the lack of stamina and joint and bones problems because of the overweight body mass. In accordance to the CDC, 70 percent of children, who are suffering from obesity at the age from 5 to 17, have at least one cardiovascular condition, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels or glucose intolerance. Moreoever, obese children may suffer from asthma, non-alcoholic liver disease and life threatening complications, such as heart or kidney failure.
Taking psychological effects into account one can distinguish depression, low self-esteem, fears of being mockered, disliked or humiliated due to the way they look. As a further result they can experience shyness, feeling lonely or even drug or alcohol abused. In most cases, people who are suffering from obesity from the early childhood find it difficult to forget the way they were treated and, as a result, they become confidential, mistrustful and full of inferiority complexes. According to Schwimmer, the quality of life of obese children is compared to the life of cancer-sick patients. It is hard for obese children to make friends, since almost everybody is making fun of them (Schwimmer, J.B., Burwinkle, T.M and Varni, J.W., 2003).
There was no doubt earlier that males and females put on weight in the same way. However, gender factor became more popular nowadays. Scientists claim that women have more possibility to become overweight than men. This is because men burn far more energy than women. As a result of it, men require a bigger quantity of calories in order to gain the body weight. Moreover, one more fact, when women get postmenopausal, their metabolic rate decreases. That is the reason why a lot of women put on weight after menopause (Slyper A., 2004).
An interesting question is bothering people: if culture and society are treating obese boys and girls equally? If to compare boys and girls’ behavior, while being overweighted, one can observe that boys are usually less concentrated on this problem. It does not mean that they are indifferent to the way they look, but they feel less hurt and more confident in such situation than girls. At the same time, girls experience an inferiority complex that someone might be better. By nature, girls tend to competition; usually it is a competition for boys’ attention. That is why girls are more agitated about the way they look and call for “thin ideal” and urge to diets and exercises (Miller J., Rosenbloom A., Silverstein J., 2004).
While childhood obesity proves to be a life-treating condition for a long period of time, children suffering from obesity need rigorous medical investigations by leading specialists in this sphere. Usually pediatricians are able to solve the problem of child obesity. However, if the reason is not physical, than it is necessary to ask dietologists for help. The proper selection of a diet, without hurting any life significant organs, will help to decrease the number of eaten calories and increase the level of physical activity. With age problems may become more serious, that is why substancial steps need to be taken to prevent or to cure this disease (Slyper A., 2004).
Preventing obesity in children is a core principle of parents’ duties if they want a long-term health for their kids. Parents should play the major role in making their children happy. And if they need to help them to lose weight – they must do that. First of all, parents should let their children know that they are loved and appreciated regardless of their weight. That will definitely reduce chances of children’s depression. Obese kids are usually aware that they have some problems with weight and look. That is why it is important to be supportive, acceptive and encouraging. If parents want to reach the desirable effect as soon as possible, they must be a role model for their kids. This means that they should eat the same food their children eat, do the same exercises, and walk on fresh air together with them. Overall, they should be as much helpful and supportive as they can. Here are some necessary tips for parents in order to help their children to overcome or prevent this disease:
- Try to provide healthy meal: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Make sure that the child is getting an appropriate amount of nutrients necessary for growth and development;
- Encourage regular physical activity. It is vital to concentrate child’s attention on 60 minutes simple exercises each day until the child will have it as a habit;
- Try to eliminate all junk food from the child’s ration;
- Try to be a role model for children. This can be shown in eating habits, when parents explain the child what he or she is supposed to eat;
- Do not try to count all calories in the child’s ration otherwise that will make them humiliated;
- Be positive. Instead of saying “Do not eat this” parents can say “Let’s eat more healthy food”;
- Try to join the child during the physical exercises;
- Lower the portion of meal, but increase the quantity of ingestions. This will help the child to obtain the desirable sence of self-regulation, and to know when he or she is hungry or full;
- Limit the time for television and computer games to two hours per day. As a result of such restriction children will have more time to spening playing with friends;outside
Child’s nutrition must be under the strict control unless parents want to struggle with excessive weight of their children. First of all, it is vital to keep in mind that healthy nutrition is a key element to child’s well-being. There is no way that children should suffer from hunger in order to lose some pounds. It is generally true that it can negatively affect children’s health in various ways. Poor nutrition can also lead to obesity as well as to mental problems, dental problems and as a result of it poor educational outcomes. One can grow thin without any starvation. A good and healthy diet is a compound of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Good carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. Fats are also considered as an essential part of proper nutrition. One can find a good amount of fats in fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Most of the time children, suffering from obesity, experience teasing from peers. That is the main reason why they feel inferior and do not tend to elevate their lives to great heights. To their mind they do not deserve it because of their weight. The motive for teasing overweight people is the thought that they need to blame themselves for having such a look. Everybody says that they need to eat less and to exercise more. People often do not realize that those obese people may come from the poor family where they can not buy a lot of food. The thing is that even eating small portions one can put on weight. Here is the fault of climate and toxic food environment. It appears to be disastrous for half of the world`s population. So, it is unfair to blame people for being indifferent when they really can not resist gaining weight (Miller J., Rosenbloom A., Silverstein J., 2004).
Under this hypothesis, one can make conclusion that people need to change the environment to make the problem of obesity not so disastrous. Joe Thompson, pediatrician at the Arkansas College of Medicine, claims that obesity problems among children can be reduced by offering healthier choices of food in school cafeterias. To prevent obesity the government should also take control into its hands. It would be sensible to improve the food factories, to make them produce only wholesome products without any admixtures (McLaughlin A., 2010).
Additionally, schools can participate in changing obese children’s lives or preventing them of being obese. It means that school government can introduce a healthy outdoor program that will assist kids to be in a good shape. Apart from this, schools can make a set of innovations, based on:
- Increase of lessons of physical training;
- Participation in special Safe Routes Programms, which encourage children to walk or ride a bike to school;
- Introduction of special lessons dedicated to healthy nourishment;
- Ban on junk food sale;
- Participation in school breakfast programs by offering breakfast in the classroom or during the lessons.
Obesity in children usually tramples to early death. The life expectancy of obese people is usually shorter than of people with normal weight. Researchers say that children with type 2 diabetes can die before the age of 55 as well as those who are suffering from a high blood pressure. Type 2 dibetes is more likely to be observed in girls than in boys. The results of the study show that 80 % of children taking part in the study were female. It is a well-known fact that girls carry 26 % more fat than boys that may contribute to relative insulin resistance in female population. High levels of BMI and blood glucose are the most serious predictors of early death. Children who have higher BMI levels usually have double risk of dying earlier than those who have lower levels of BMI (Riccairdelli L.A., McCabe M.P., Banfield S., 2002).
All in all, one apprehends obesity as a lifelong issue. The most important reason why it takes so long for people to lose pounds is that they lack of willpower. They start losing desired pounds, than get tired of restrictions, exercises, diets and than go back to their usual habits of eating anything they wish. That is why it is considered to be the biggets problem when losing weight, since no one can force a person to do what he or she does not want to do. One should not forget to support obese children at all costs because it is like a new lease of life for them, to know that someone appreciate them.