The Fight against Childhood Obesity: Parental Involvement
ENG 240: Advanced Composition
Instructor Kevin Reardon
Sep 30th, 2012
The purpose of this research paper is to show the need for better public knowledge about the issues facing children who are struggling with obesity, with a primary focus on parental involvement. Parents need to understand the seriousness of allowing their children to consume whatever they want, and how much they want: We are seeing hypertension, heart disease, some cancers, breathing difficulties, and type II diabetes in more children today than ever before. Opposing arguments claim that it is not the fault of ...view middle of the document...
Infants and toddlers don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand that food has calories, nor that eating too many calories makes their bodies unhealthy by storing too much fat. (“Developmentally Appropriate Nutrition Education,” 2007). For this reason, when a parent gives their baby a bottle every time it cries, or allows their child to eat more candy to keep them quiet, the child is not going to worry that he is getting too fat; he is simply going to enjoy the flavor or comfort it brings. Therefore, the problem with childhood obesity begins with the parents.
Blaming the parents certainly meets with plenty of resistance; critics saying that it is insensitive and judgmental, claiming that by blaming the parents we are implying they are lazy, even ignorant. (Powell, 2012). Opposing views declare that other obstacles need to be considered, including food marketing, genetics, poverty, and technology (screen time reduces physical activity). Nonetheless, parents need to be concerned—not defensive—because obesity-related health issues that are prevalent in adults have now become more common in kids:
Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, fatty liver disease, joint pain, depression, and an increased risk of future cardiovascular disease. Pulmonary disorders, including obstructive sleep
apnea and reactive airway disease, are also reported more frequently in obese children. (Han, Lawlor, & Kimm, 2010). Additionally, the Center for Disease Control has gathered data indicating that children growing up in the United States today “will suffer more chronic disease and premature death from eating badly and lack of physical activity than from exposure to alcohol, tobacco and drugs combined.” (Katz, 2011).
Because of these life threatening health issues, in some states, obese children may even be removed from the home and placed in foster care. An article written by Lindsey Murtagh and David S. Ludwig in the Journal Of The American Medical Association has met with plenty of resistance. The authors suggest that “state intervention may serve the best interests of children with life-threatening obesity” by providing a new environment where they are exposed to healthy nutrition and reasonable activity levels. (2011, p.206). Many retort that calling childhood obesity “abuse” places an unfair burden on parents, but if starving a child constitutes abuse, it should stand that if a child can be placed in state custody for fear of starvation, then the same should hold true for the child whose life is threatened due to obesity. The most popular rebuttal is that state intervention places too much blame on parents. David Catz says rather than blaming parents we need to blame the food industry. He says we should be “demonizing” companies that sell and market junk food. (2011).
It’s no surprise that some of the unhealthiest foods on the market are the most popular among kids, but there are several holes in the theory that marketing it is...