Childhood Obesity in the U.S.
Childhood Obesity Roseanna Phares ENG 122 English Composition II Mr. Kenneth Newton June 6, 2011 Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. “Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. Approximately 17% (or 12. 5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. ” (CDC, 2011, p. 1) There is also a trend seen in the racial and ethnic classification to obese children. “In 2007-2008 the prevalence of adolescent obesity was significantly higher among Mexican-American adolescent boys (26. %) and non-Hispanic white adolescent black girls (29. 2%) compared with non-Hispanic white boys (16. 7%) and girls (14. 5%). ” (Ogden and Carroll, 2010, p. 1) So why did childhood obesity suddenly become a problem? Well this is a question that does not have just one simple answer. The etiology of childhood obesity is very complex. The fact is a number of things have changed in the American life since the 1980’s. For example, soft drinks have become the national drink replacing milk and water.
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The average diet has shifted from natural home-cooked foods to more processed high-calorie, high fat foods. Television, video games, and computers have encouraged more sedentary behavior and less physical activity. In addition people are driving more, have longer commutes, eating in their cars, and doing more drive-thru business. So why do we care? Well childhood obesity will lead to adult obesity! “More than two thirds of children ten years and older who are obese will become obese adults. ” (Miller, Rosenbloom, & Silverstein, 2004, p. ) Obesity predisposes people to more numerous health problems. In fact, : being overweight during childhood and Adolescence significantly increases a child’s risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension respiratory, Orthopedic problems, depression, and type 2 diabetes. ” (U. S Department of Health & Human Services, 2002. P. 1) these disease are not only harmful for the individual but effect the rising cost of the healthcare nationwide. Childhood obesity is not only unhealthy but not cheap either.
Therefore, several factors have contributed to this public heath epidemic including genetics, nutrition, and unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity, and increasing sedentary behavior and the media. By understanding some of the cases of childhood obesity, we can begin to focus on ways to prevent the progression of this terrible disease. So where does the blame fall for this epidemic, genetics, parents, or society? I feel parents are the greatest leading cause of childhood obesity due to the influence they have on their children.
My focus of this paper is to illustrate how parental influence or not and exercise have contributed to the prevalence of childhood obesity and how we may help to prevent and slow its progression. Childhood obesity begins with nutritional choices a mother makes even as early as pregnancy. One study found that children who were large for gestational age-at birth “were 2. 5 times more likely to be obese in childhood than average size newborns infants. ” (Pediatrics week, 2011, p. 65) Therefore mothers need to be Practice good weight management via diet and exercise as early as pregnancy to help decrease their child’s risk of childhood obesity.
Most obese children become obese adults. “At all ages, the presence of parental obesity at least doubles the risk of a child being overweight as an adult. In fact parental obesity in the mother seems to be the strongest rick factor. ” (Bradford, 2009, p. 325) Parents are in charge of shopping and preparing food for their children and by not making healthy choices they are contributing to their children’s weight gain. Parent’s food preferences directly shape those of their children. (U. S Deportment of Health & Human services, 2002, p. 5) This is especially true for infants and toddlers.
The feeding infants and toddlers study (FITS) in 2008. Seventeen percent of infant’s age 6-8 months consumed a desert, sweet or sweetened beverage on any given day and 25presentof infants, toddlers, and preschoolers don’t eat a single serving of fruit each day and 30pesent don’t eat a single serving of vegetables. Also French fries are the most popular vegetable among toddler, and greater than 70 present of toddlers and preschoolers consume more sodium than recommended daily. (PR Newswire, 2009) This data is unbelievable; children are already developing poor eating habits from such a young age.
The good news is the 2008 steady found some improvements in these problems over the 2002 study. This should be a wakeup call to parents that we need to feed are children better choices. Children mimic behaviors we as parents do every day. For example, I have seen my daughter trying to fix her hair and makeup while watching me get ready for work in the morning. This holds true for how our children eat and exercise. “In the study of Oliveria and Colleague, they reported that parents who ate diets high in saturated fats also have children that eat foods high in saturated fats. ” (U.
S Department of Health & human services, 2002, p. 5) Parents are supposed to instill good eating habits in their children by eating healthy themselves and exercising. Other poor factors include increased snacking between meals, eating more drive thru foods due to being on the go more often. In fact, one third of children eat a fast food meal each day and in the U. S one consume up to 50 present more calories when eating out than when eating at home. (Bradford, 2009) This points out another factor, that we as Americans have less meals together as a family at the dinner table.
Bradford (2009) states that one study found “eating meals together as a family 3 to 4 times a week significantly decreased overweight. ” (p. 326) All of these factors are things parents can control or monitor therefore decreasing their child’s risk for childhood obesity. Healthy food choices for parents and their children, better monitoring of their child’s food intake and move meals at home as a family, are all steps in the right direction. The benefits of exercise and physical activity for reducing obesity are common knowledge.
However, Americans continue to engage in more sedentary activities and ignore the recommendations of healthcare providers and officials. Again parents hold a lot of responsibility when it comes to their children’s lack of exercise and sedentary behavior. For some parents it comes down to being just plain lazy. They would rather entertain their child with the television than engage in more physical activity like riding bikes. Living in an unsafe, or perceived to be unsafe, neighborhood is a barrier some parents face. “A parent’s perceptions that a neighborhood is unsafe have children that are four times more likely to be obese. (Bradford, 2009, p. 325) However, this is no excuse, parents need to take their children to public parks, gyms, or get them involved in school sports. Also the change in physical education programs in school has an effect on obesity in our children. “The 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans recommends at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day. In 2009 only 33% attended daily physical education classes. ” (CDC, 2011, p. 2) Probably the biggest contributor to the lack of physical activity is due to our advancement in technology.
Television now offers cartoons and kid programs 24 hours a day. Years ago cartoons were only on Saturday mornings and kids were forced to go outside and play during the day. “It is estimated that children in the United States are spending 25 percent of their waking hours watching television and statistically, children who watch the most hours of TV have the highest incidence of obesity. ” (US Department of Health and Human Resources, 2004, p. 4) As a result of this increased TV time, children are being exposed to more food commercials and eating more snacks.
The popularity of video games, computers and iPods has also lead to more sedentary behavior. Parents need to limit the amount of time their child is watching TV and using these different types of media. The 2007 Expert Committee recommends that total daily “screen time” (including TV, video games and computers) be limited to two hours per day. (Bradford, 2009) In conclusion, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity are the two key contributors to the childhood obesity epidemic and studies have shown that parents have significant influence over both.
Better education of parents and children on healthy lifestyles, encouraging good food choices and regular physical activity are essential to prevent the progression of this terrible disease. Studies examining family-based weight management programs have found a change in parental behavior is correlated with success in the child. (Bradford, 2009) With childhood obesity on the rise society needs to begin making changes now to prevent the worsening of this disease for future generations. References A Growing Problem. (2011).
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