Obesity in American Children

Obesity in American Children

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Childhood obesity in America is a growing disease that has become

an epidemic that has lasting psychological effects because of

advertisement of fast food, lack of physical activities, and parental control

has made food become a major health issue in many young teenagers’

lives today. Who is to blame?

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years

(cdc.gov). this takes us to the focus of how childhood obesity has become

an enormous issue today. For us to understand the impact of

obesity and why we should prevent it, we will need to figure out the

causes of obesity and what keeps people obese. The first step for us to

look at is childhood obesity, even if children are slightly overweight and

not quite obese at childhood, their childhood is laying the foundation for

possible obesity in their future. The primary argument for childhood

obesity is between three factors:

1. How parents may be aiding in unhealthy eating habits.

2. What the schools are serving to the children.

3. How much physical activities children are participating in.

Many parents tend to typecast obesity more as a social issue rather
than a health issue. As lead author and registered dietitian Susan T. Borra,
International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation senior vice
president, director of nutrition from (Parents, Kids Don’t Perceive Obesity
as a Health Problem From Journal of the American Dietetic Association)
states; “Parents indicated that they have tools to deal with other risk
behaviors, such as drug use and sexual activity, but not overweight. They
also don’t see themselves as good role models.” Though it isn't easy,
especially if the parents themselves are overweight, but teaching our
children to make healthier choices is essential if we want them to be
healthy and avoid the health consequences of being overweight. This
reiterates the reason we need to teach our children how and what to eat
and facilitates healthy habits by setting the example. This reveals the
necessity for us to change the way that we eat, to pass on nutritional
knowledge to our children to assist in the prevention of childhood obesity.

We are all guilty at one point of convenient, quick, and cheap

solutions that are offered from fast food restaurants or cafeterias. This

brings us to what is being served to our children in school. Our schools

are filled with junk food vending machines, an assortment of fried foods in

the cafeterias and sugar filled snack bars.

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Nearly one in three

American children is now considered to be either overweight or obese,

and this week, the first lady, Michelle Obama, kicked off a campaign

intended to end childhood obesity.(TheNYTimes.com) What are we

doing as adults to teach our children about nutrition? I have watched a few

shows on TV with captions “ My child is obese.” Many of the families’

testimonies are that they give in to whatever their child wants such as

chips, candy bars, and soda because they don’t know what else to do.

They don’t want to say no because they don’t know how or don’t have a

way of teaching their child that junk food is not “regular” food.

As stressful as parenting is it is our responsibilities to teach and

educate our children about food and nutrition. When a child is born

and throughout their adolescence they depend on the parents to feed them.

They look up to us for guidance. They assume that what they are

eating is good for them because parents would only give their child what

they believe is best, right? It should be but in the times we live in now has

made it more difficult to balance a full-time job, being full-time student, a

marriage, three young children, the list may go on forever. But if we don’t

start now we can contribute greatly to a child with self-esteem issues,

inconsistent dieting and even in some cases a lot of health concerns.

Another factor to look at in the issue of obesity is the health side.
A child is not just a little adult. They are still developing
and changing. Their systems are still in a process of maturing and being
fine-tuned," said David S. Ludwig, an obesity expert at Children's Hospital
in Boston. "Being excessively heavy could distort this natural process of
growth and development in ways that irreversibly affect the biological
pathways." (washingtonpost.com) The effects obesity can cause on the

body can lead to life-threatening illnesses. Besides physical health

conditions they are also at risk for psychological health risks. Many

children may be bullied or victimized from peers which can really damage
the way they view themselves. The emotional distress of these ailments,
combined with the social stigma of being fat, makes overweight children
prone to psychiatric and behavioral troubles. One analysis found that
obese youth were seven times more likely to be depressed.
One key thing that makes young people obese is the

lack of exercise. Exercise is so important in children and adults’ lives.

When life becomes more mechanical, people tend to not walk and ride
bikes and be more physical. Eight to 18-year-old adolescents spend an
average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including TV,
computers, video games, cell phones and movies, and only one-third of
high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.
(letsmove.gov) we need to take responsibility as parents, teachers, and
mentors to help motivate these young children to do more physical
activities such as friendly competitions of relay races, camping trips,
going to the community pools are a few examples. If children are exposed
to more activities they enjoy they will more than likely be active and not

One of the most important reasons to prevent obesity is the health

concerns. People do not realize how expensive medical costs are to treat

a child who is obese. A 2014 study in the journal Health Affairs

concluded that the costs of hospitalizations related to childhood obesity

rose from $125.9 million in 2009 to $237.6 million in 2013. Bottom Line:

America spends as much as $147 billion annually on the direct and

indirect costs of obesity. (cnn.com) It costs us as a nation as well as

individually. I could only imagine hoe much money would go into medical

screenings, medications, and treatments would cost a person. Adding to

the equation what kind of health care insurance you may have and what

category this falls under if you do have coverage for it.

Other obvious reasons to prevent obesity besides medical expenses

is also medical conditions whether that is physical or psychological. We

don’t want our children to run upstairs huffing and puffing, struggling to

breathe when they get to the top. We also do not want to see our child get

depressed because of how low their self-esteem is or feeling they are not

good enough because they are overweight. This growing disease is not

like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s where they are still researching how they

get this disease. With the proper nutritional knowledge we can help our

children live longer healthier happier lives.

Ultimately I believe all three factors are to blame for the cause of

the high rate of childhood obesity. Parents should take responsibility

because of what is at reach in the home. If there is junk food in your

house all the time you are enabling your child to believe they can eat as

much of it and as often as they like. The school systems are improving on

getting healthier options so I feel they are slightly contributing to a

child’s weight gain. Children are not engaging in enough exercise in school

or at home. In some schools physical education is not offered during the

school day. Some children hardly participate in neighborhood activities

like skating, skipping, running races, etc. They spend their time doing

stationary activities, such as using the computer, playing video games or

watching television. It is proven that children who watch the most hours

of television have the highest incidence of obesity. When children are

physically inactive, most of the unused energy in the body is stored as fat.
While all of these are certainly valid causes of child obesity, who to blame
may actually be uncomfortably close to home. Maybe its time we as
parents and consumers accepted our share of the blame.
In conclusion, while childhood obesity is alarming, it is preventable

and treatable.

Works Cited

1.N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb 2015. .

2."Parents, Kids Don’t Perceive Obesity as a Health Problem." Journal of the American Dietetic Association n. pag. Web. 20 Feb 2015. .

3. Rabin, Robin. "Child Obesity Risks Death at Early Age, Study Finds ." (2010): n. pag. Web. 20 Feb 2015. .

4. Levine, Susan, and Rob Stein. "Obesity Threatens a Generation." 'Catastrophe' of Shorter Spans, Higher Health Costs (2008): n. pag. Web. 20 Feb 2015.

5.N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb 2015. .

6. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb 2015.
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