The end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century has seen enormous technological development and an expansion of globalization campaign. The life of people across the globe has continued to be enhanced by these developments with an increase in efficiency in the production world. As a result, people have invented ways of making their lives as comfortable as possible. One area that has experienced tremendous technological transformation is the medical world. However, irrespective of these developments, human health continues to face numerous challenges in terms health. One of these challenges is obesity among children.
During the Second World War in the 1940s, the United States military complained about the weight of young people that were being recruited to join the military. Most of these young people were underweight and they could not be recruited to go and fight for their country. However, recent reports indicate an opposite trend. In reference to Kalb (2010), there have been concerns about the weight of young people who are willing to join the military since many of them are overweight and they cannot be recruited into the military to go and fight for their country. On the other hand, there have been serious concerns in the medical world over the number of children that have been diagnosed with diseases such as diabetes and heart attack that are associated with obesity (Schlosser 242). As if this is not enough, the number of children between the ages of 6 years to 10 years who have lost their lives as a result of their weight is on the rise.
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Government spending on children has also increased in the recent past. More money is being channeled into the healthcare of children and specifically to deal with their health in terms of weight (Schlosser 242). These concerns are able to create a clear picture in the mind of the society in regard to the looming calamity that the American people have been facing each and every day. Whereas the 1990s was characterized with the fear of HIV/AIDS as a killer disease, there is a possibility that the number of children who are affected by obesity who will die in a near future will surpass the number of deaths of cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Nearly every child in the United States is at a risk of being affected by obesity.
Child obesity can be termed in the modern America as one of the most serious calamity that threatens every sector in this nation. Statistics that have been produced recently indicate that 75% of young people who are between the age of 17 years and 24 years are ineligible to join the military, not because they lack educational qualification but because they are obese. Statistics also show that obesity cases have more than tripled in the last 30 years and these cases are still rising. Overall, it was argued that 60% of the United States child population was obese or were on the path of becoming obese. According to Burns et al. (2009), about 25% of children between the ages of 2 years to 6 years suffered from obesity (17). This figure slightly rose among children between the ages 6 years to 11 years with an average of 37% having been affected while 38% of children between the ages 12 years and 19 years were affected (17).
There is no one that can ignore these figures. The government has realized that obesity is a serious threat and the time has come that the society too realizes that its future is being threatened by obesity. With this in mind, an understanding of the causes of obesity in the United States would act as an important approach towards finding an appropriate solution to this calamity. To begin with, fast food is no doubt whatsoever that it is the major cause of obesity among children. The current American society has been characterized with efficiency and time keeping. As a result, this society is endowed with a particular form of swiftness that does not only enhance its productivity but also creates an opportunity for health calamities. Schlosser (2001) asserts that more and more Americans are finding it easy to consume food that can be prepared easily and faster (3).
One of the issues that worsen the situation is the fact that the production of fast foods has become an industry that is stooped to making profits at the expense of the lives of people. Worse still is the fact that those that have been targeted are young children who are unable to make informed choices about what is healthy to them and what is not. According to Schlosser (2001), since the 1970s, the entry of a lot of women into the workforce as a result of the feminist wave that rocked across the United States in the 1960s and 1970s has necessitated people to seek for services that were previously performed by housewives such as cooking (4). However, those that have been on the receiving end are children. It is important for one to understand that whereas both children and adults were affected by fast foods, children were more affected as compared to adults. Similarly, the number of adults who were in a position to control their intake of fast foods was far much higher as compared to children.
Children in America have been found to choose fast foods as an option for their diet as a result of the way these foods have been presented to them through the adverts in the media and they way they have been displayed in restaurants. These foods that comprise mainly of meat and potatoes have been found to be sweeter to the tongue, yet the fat content in them poses a serious risk to human health and in this particular case the young children (Schlosser 111). Therefore, whereas the issue may be taken lightly by the society, the risk that it poses to the young children and overall continuation of the future society cannot be fathomed. Nevertheless, the government and the society cannot sit back and watch how the issue of obesity unfolds. Something has to be done, at least to slow it down if at all it cannot be eradicated. The question that one is left asking is; how can obesity problems be solved in the current society of the United States of America? What approach should be taken in a quest to eradicate this problem?
Solution to Obesity in Children
Obesity in children remains as one of the core issues in the American society that needs to be addressed with a lot of urgency. To begin with, fast foods were earlier on identified as the greatest cause of obesity among children. In this regard, the main solution that could be utilized to ensure that there was a drastic reduction in the cases of obesity in the society was control the amount of fast foods that were accessible and consumed by children. Therefore, there are different approaches that could be employed in addressing the issue of fast foods in the American society (Schlosser 3).
One of the important approaches to controlling fast food in the society especially in regard to accessibility by children is formulating legislation that would control fast foods restaurants and what they offered to people. As it was observed by Waters et al (2010), the enactment of a policy that would work through controlling food business in the United States was one of the most effective ways of reducing or rather bringing under control the levels of childhood obesity (207). Such policy implementation must work from a point of view that understood that food business is and will always remain as one of the most booming business in the United States.
Following this point, approaching obesity from this perspective would guarantee a substantial control of obesity level among children. In line with this, one of the policies that could work towards achieving this was forcing fast food restaurant to increase the amount of nutritious quantities of foods in every meal that was served to their customer. In other words, when a person was served or rather bought a particular portion of such a meal as pizza, this should comprise of a good portion of fruit and vegetable salads rather than just consisting of pizza alone. In this way, whereas people would not complain of missing fast foods, they would also have access to important nutrients that are necessary for maintaining a healthy body (Burns et al. 29). It is important for one to understand that McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food restaurant has been working on implementing the above policy after there was a public outcry that it has been offering food varieties that were dangerous to the health status of children as well as adults in the society.
Another approach that could be taken in dealing with obesity among children through controlling the amount of fast foods that they took was through controlling the amount of televisions adverts on fast foods that were accessed by children. According Koplan and Institute of Medicine (U.S.) Committee on Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity (2007), the federal government has a responsibility to examine whether those that were engaged in fast food industry were able to comply with the quality standards and requirements that were in place in regard to food and beverage advertising and entertainment (116). It is important for one to understand the fact that whereas advertising is one of the ways of marketing one’s products, the trends that have been observed in the recent past showed that fast advertisers targeted a particular group of audience or rather consumers.
In this regard, children were targeted by foods advertiser since it was perceived that children had no skills of making wise choices when it comes to food and beverages. As a result, these businessmen and women put their adverts during the airing of children programs on national television since they understood that during this particular time, there were a lot of children across the nation who were watching these programs and therefore could see adverts of these foods and beverages (Schlosser 46). On the other hand, these fast food dealers understood that most children were capable of influencing their parents on what they consumed as food. Therefore, exposing them to such adverts would automatically boost their sales of fast foods. Following this point, the government, through various control policies could be able to manage the amount of fast foods that were accessible and consumed by children by controlling the amount of fast foods and beverages that these children were exposed to on a daily basis.
There were also new trends that have been observed with fast food restaurant locations. It is important to note that these restaurants had realized that young people as young as school going children formed the largest market for their products. Consequently, there were finding ways of ensuring that their products were easily accessible by this group of consumers. Therefore, to tap in on this market, most fast food restaurants were located near academic institutions such as school to make it easier for children to access them after school (Schlosser 3). Taking note of these trends, the government should enact policies that prohibited establishment of fast food restaurants near schools as a way of increasing accessibility to fast food. Whereas this may not deter young children in consuming fast foods, it would reduce by a significant margin the amount of fast foods or rather calories that were consumed by these young people on a daily basis.
In consistent to this argument, Schlosser (2001) reiterates that businessmen and women had taken up the task of promoting fast foods in public schools through classroom teaching materials, conventional ad campaigns etc in order to widen their market base (52). Whereas children and young people may have heard once of severally that fast foods were dangerous to their health, such marketing campaigns raise curiosity that leads to consumption of these foods. In line with this, the government has a responsibility of ensuring that public schools remained as a ground for learning rather than a promotion ground for different products and services some of which are very harmful to human health. Therefore, there was need to implement policies that deterred promotion of fast foods in schools as a way of reducing curiosity among children to consume these foods.
The final approach as a strategy to reducing the amount of fast foods that were consumed by children was supervising sponsorship programs that were offered to public schools by fast food chains. It is important to understand that one of the marketing strategies that have been employed by businesses in the past was offering sponsorship to schools which would then allow these businesses to advertise their goodies to students. It is the responsibility of the government, school administration and parents to prevent such kind of marketing strategies as they were more harmful to children instead of benefiting them. Therefore, the policies that are formulated should allow fast food chain to offer such sponsorship as corporate social responsibility rather than as a way of marketing their products (Waters et al. 197).
One of the solutions that have been proposed in the past is educating parents on issues that regard the nutrition of their children. This solution proposes that parents should take charge of food that is consumed by their children (Koplan and Institute of Medicine (U.S.) Committee on Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity 335). Similarly, these parents should focus on providing their children with a balanced diet that comprises of a lot of fruits and liquids. In this regard, parents would be solely responsible for the health of their children thus enabling them to reduce cases of obesity in the society.
However, this solution does not provide a perfect way of dealing with child obesity in the society. To begin with, most parents spend their time in their places of work. Following this arguments, these parents are unable to monitor what their children consume while they are away. Therefore, since most of these children have access to money, most of them spend it on hamburgers and other types of fast foods that they can access on the market. On the other hand, there are parents who have managed to adopt health programs in their home and to them, their children are safe and they cannot be affected by obesity.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that these children spend most of their time at school and it is very difficult to monitor what children eat or rather consume while they are away in school (Waters et al. 144). Studies show that most of the calories are consumed while children are at school rather than when they are at home. Therefore, whereas it may be possible to monitor and control calorie intake of children while they are at home, it is very difficult to monitor them while they are away at school. As a result of this, the parent approach solution however good it may look like is unable to deal with the looming child obesity crisis.
Another approach that has been ineffective in dealing with child obesity is physical exercise. It has been proposed in the past that children should spend most of their time exercising as a way of reducing child obesity among them (Waters et al. 194). However, this approach to dealing with obesity has faced numerous challenges in the sense that it has proved difficult to implement it in the schools and even at home. As a matter of fact, the modern learning environment is so demanding yet providing very little time that children could use to do physical exercise. In fact, instead of participating in outdoor games, most children spend their time indoors playing computer games and watching movies. With this in mind, it is difficult to induce physical exercise among these children. In addition, school transport has drastically reduced the amount of walking distance that is covered by these children from home to school and back. In consistent with this, physical exercise is very ineffective in dealing with obesity among children since it is difficult to implement while at the same time it fails to deal with the exact problem that causes obesity, i.e. fast foods or rather fatty foods.
Obesity among children remains as one of the most serious health problems in the modern American society. In this regard, there are more that 60% of children whose health is at stake due to obesity. These children face the risk of being affected by disease such as heart attack, diabetes and other obesity-related problems at a very early age. In this regard therefore, the government and the society in general cannot in any way ignore the dangers that the society continues to face on a daily basis as a result of the increasing rate of obesity cases among children. Similarly, the government cannot ignore obesity among children as a serious problem since it has continued to spend more on children’s health in obesity related cases.
There is therefore the need for an amicable solution to be sought after immediately if at all the society and the government are to maintain hopes of dealing with obesity. For instance, the future generation would have an unmanageable budget that would focus on health more than on any other area of the economy (Woolf, Jonas and Kaplan-Liss xxiv). Additionally, the government would continue facing insecurity risks due to the fact that its young population is unable to join the military and defend its country from both internal and external attack. Similar to this is the fact that the workforce would be unable to get enough people to work and develop the United States.
In connection to this, the time to deal with child obesity in the American society is now and not in any other time. One cannot fathom the cost of medication that would be involved in future if the society and the government fails to deal with this problem at this time. On the other hand, dealing with obesity during this time is more appropriate as compared to dealing with it in future due to the fact that it is less costly at the moment and its effects on children are not as prevalent as five years from now.
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