Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States and across the world. “Globally, in 2010 the number of overweight children under the age of five is estimated to be over 42 million. Close to 35 million of these are living in developing countries.” (2010 National world health organization) Approximately 20 percent of adolescence in the United States is obese are overweight. The numbers are expected to climb to 1 out of 5 children by 2020. Why should this concern us as a society and what should we do about it? In this paper I will speak of obesity and the physical, emotional and developmental effects it has on our children. I will also include changes that are ...view middle of the document...
Media pushes the idea of having a thin and perfect body to be beautiful but pushing our children towards unhealthy eating. Because of the social stigma involved, being overweight during childhood can be emotionally difficult and can lead to mental health problems that last into adulthood.
An overweight child may have anxiety, which results in disruptive behaviors or withdrawal from friends and family. Social anxiety may result from ongoing teasing and bullying. Anxiety often interferes with learning, which can lead to poor academic performance. Being overweight during adolescence can affect a person's emotional well-being as an adult. “Overweight adolescent girls are at risk for developing depression and anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks and social anxiety, in adulthood.” (Anderson, 2007)
Being overweight during childhood can cause depression. An overweight child may feel upset, hopeless or sad about being heavier than his/her friends. A depressed child may lose interest in fun activities, have changes in sleep patterns or withdraw from friends and family. Sometimes depressed children seem emotionally numb or withdrawn. Overweight children are at higher risk for suicidal thinking than in healthy-weight children.
Obese adolescents are at risk for developing eating disorders, such as binge eating, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Disordered eating may result from an overweight adolescent's engagement in unhealthy weight control behaviors to lose weight. Obese children are often teased and bullied by peers, which may lead to poor self-esteem and emotional disturbances. Children who are teased were at risk for having low self-esteem and engaging in disordered eating behaviors, such as binge eating and eating in secret.
Low self-esteem increases the risk of emotional difficulties and high-risk behaviors for the overweight child. According to a study by Dr. Richard Strauss published in the January 2000 issue of "Pediatrics," overweight girls aged 13 to 14 years old were four times as likely to have low self-esteem than healthy-weight girls. Dr. Strauss also found that overweight girls and boys with low self-esteem were more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and be sad, lonely and anxious compared with peers with healthy self-esteem.
What can be done?
This national issue has been rising to the forefront of our awareness through actions such as the one campaigned by Michelle Obama “Lets move.” With Lets move the idea of five simple steps were introduced starting with parents then kids, schools and more ideas for change. With these steps parents are asked to model healthy eating and to live an active lifestyle armed with a better understanding of nutrition and overall health. Children are asked to move every day, drink more water, to do other activities other then TV and to help make dinner. Schools are asked to make a health advisory committee, incorporate active classes, plant a garden, make it a healthy work...