Childhood Obesity Essay

1739 words - 7 pages

Childhood obesity, you hear about it everywhere. There are commercials about it on television and on the radio. It’s a very popular topic on mainstream talk shows; even Oprah has an episode about it at least once every season. Obesity is defined as an excessive accumulation of fat that increases body weight by 20% or more over ones ideal body weight. We all know at least one overweight child, and sadly that rate is growing all the time. In the United States, childhood obesity has grown tremendously over the past years. According to Torgan, "The number of children who are overweight has doubled in the last two to three decades; currently one child in five is overweight" (2). Obesity in ...view middle of the document...

Poor eating habits and the environment has also contributed to overweight children. Children are now consuming more foods that are high in calories. They are more inclined to eating when not hungry, eating while watching television, and/or eating while doing homework. Eating well-balanced, home-cooked meals together has become obsolete for many families. Instead, they rely on fast food that is cheap and convenient. In an attempt to increase earnings, fast food franchises advertise appealing and tasteful foods that are high in calories. Additionally, we as consumers are more inclined to “super-size” or “king-size” a value meal order. By doing this, we add more calories to a meal that is already high in calories. Eating a large amount of high calorie foods, like fast foods, baked goods, and vending machine snacks certainly contributes to weight gain. When buying groceries, the parents should focus on buying more fruits and vegetables and stay away from the convenience foods that are high in sugar and fat. Healthy snacks should always be available and food should never be used as a reward or a punishment. Children should not be offered sweets as a reward for finishing a meal, because this teaches them to place a higher value on desserts and may make desserts more desirable to them rather than the healthy foods.
Although most causes of obesity in children are modifiable, some are not. Genetics is a non-changeable cause of obesity. Greater risk of obesity has been found in children of obese and overweight parents. Since not all children who eat non-nutritious foods, watch several hours of television daily, and are relatively inactive develop obesity, the search continues for alternative causes. Heredity has recently been shown to influence fatness, regional fat distribution, and response to overfeeding (Bouchard, 1477-1482). In addition, infants born to overweight mothers have been found to gain more weight and be less active by age three months when compared with infants of normal weight mothers. This suggests a possible inborn drive to conserve energy. According to Lohman, not all obese infants become obese children, and not all obese children become obese adults. However, the prevalence of obesity increases with age among both males and females (98-102). There is also a greater likelihood that obesity beginning even in early childhood will persist through the life span (Epstein, Wing, Koeske, and Valoski, 91-95).
Obesity presents numerous problems for the child. In addition to increasing the risk of obesity in adulthood, childhood obesity is the leading cause of pediatric hypertension, and is associated with Type II diabetes. The risk of coronary heart disease, and stress on the weight-bearing joints is also increased in obese children. Obese children have a high incidence of orthopedic problems, liver disease, and asthma. Sleep apnea, which is interrupted breathing while sleeping, is one of the most severe problems for obese children....

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