Childhood Obesity in the Contemporary American Society

According to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry report of 2008, obesity is an increased body mass resulting from fat accumulation in a child’s body, which may cause health dangers to the child. Recent living conditions have resulted to an increase in malnutrition disease. Among the children, obesity is one of health condition that has been caused by the lifestyle that people are continually adopting (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2008).

To determine the whether a child is obese or not, there are some age expectations that are set and pegged to a certain age that a health child is likely to be having. If the child weight is higher than the given age, with a percentage of over 20% then to child is considered as obese. Child obesity has been on the rise especially in modern societies where eating habits have changed. The medical condition can be prevented through simple practices and changing of eating habits (McNair, 2009).

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Children obesity statistics

The Unites States of America is believed to be having the highest number of obese children; health officials have observed that there are 23million obese or overweight children in the country, the obese children falls in the ages of between of two years and nineteen years (World Health Organization, 2011).

Obese children are not healthy and are at the risk of developing diseases later in life or at tender age. According to CRC Health Group website 2000, 19% of children aged between the ages of 2-11 were obese and 17 % of those aged 12-17 years were obese (Institute of Medicine, 2004). In the world ranking, united states records the highest number of obese children in the world.

Between 1999 and 2004, the rate of child obesity has increased for 15.1 to 18.1%; these are children of the ages 6-11. According to institute of medicine report published in 2005, it was estimated that there are approximately 9 million children in United States.

The concern for the increase was brought about by increase in diseases that are related to the condition among them diabetes type two. The reports blame parents of lack of control over their children habits but were quick to point out the influence that junk food joint have on the children (Waters, Seidell & Swinburn, 2010).

Causes of obesity among the Americans

A number of factors can be blamed for the occurrence of obesity in children; there is no one single thing that can be blamed on an individual however in most cases, the condition appear when two or more such factors play their role, the following are the main factors:

Genetic and hormonal

McNair, 2009, states that people have different biological making; genetic and hormonal factors influences how bodies accumulate fats on the body; where some people have the tendency of accumulating more fat than other peoples accumulate. When child has a higher tendency of fat accumulation, then chances of becoming obese are high. This cause is the hardest to control however if parents act consciously of this factor, then they can check foods taken by a child to reduce chances of obesity in their children.

Familial and nutritional

Closely related to genetic factors, some families have the tendency of accumulating more fat than others accumulate, as much as this may be from biological making, it has been influenced greatly by the behavior within a family. Obesity can be seen to run down a family, because of diet and nutritional issues in the family setting. If a family engages in inappropriate eating habits, then children in the family are likely to suffer from obesity (Paxton, 2006).

Psychological and physiological factors

Children as they grow develop some food likings, when they have the cash to buy the foods, then they are likely to eat junk that might cause a higher consumption of fats causing obesity.

Lifestyle adopted by modern children

Modern foods, mostly junk foods are freely available for children; this has resulted to a changed eating habits to such foods that increasing the rate of child obesity. In the United States, there are a number of junk foods outlets where children can buy junk food with or without their parents (Ben-Sefer, Ben-Natan & Ehrenfeld, 2009).

On the other hand, children are now engaging more in in-house games using computers, video games, and television, they do not have the chance to exercise their body and muscles, and this increases their chances of being obese since they do not burn calories they have consumed (Bascetta, 2005).

Dangers brought about by obesity

According to Paxton, Donahue, Orlean and Grisso, 2006, there are different dangers that come with being obese; when a child has a lot of fat deposit in the body, there is a lot of sodium deposited in the body.

The resultant is an increased blood volume that increases the rate of blood pressure; increased blood pressure force the heart to work harder a factor that is likely to cause high blood pressure. Children suffering from high blood pressure have their life hampered as they can hardly enjoy their childhood, youthfulness and sometimes it has an effect in adult life.

When the body has excess fat deposits, there is a high resistance to insulin. When this happens, the body lacks the energy that it requires to maintain at equilibrium. The resultant is type 2 diabetes; diabetes is one of the most dangerous diseases that the world is trying to fight, it is a disease that cannot be cured through managed through daily injections.

When there is heavy weight exerted joint and cartilage, there are high chances that the weight will lead to Osteoarthritis, and this offers lifelong complications. The worst medical condition that a person develops from being obese is cancer (Paxton, Donahue, Orleans, & Grisso, 2006).

Measures that the United States can take to reverse the obesity trends within their country

It is better to prevent than cure, obesity can be prevented in the county through the intervention of policy makers, parents and other stakeholders. To address the issue of obesity in the society, the county health department has the role of enforcing rules and regulations as well as creating awareness to the people on how they can change their eating habits for the benefits of their children.

The country should ensure that children have enough playing ground, at school or village level so as they can use plays to exercise their bodies. Parents and junk food joints should be held responsible of children health; this can be through regulations that control advertisement of junk foods in the county and ensuring fresh and health foods are sold in the joints (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005)

Every country should have a legislation that aimed at addressing the issue of obesity; it should;

Parent’s sensitization on good feeding process to their children, this will be offended in pregnancy clinic where feeding mechanisms of a child before birth and after both will be advocated.
Creating awareness on the dangers brought about by being obese, both children and adults obesity: knowledge is power thus when embarked on, it is likely to make people change their behavior
Develop guiding brochures to be given alongside birth notification certificate to newborn. The brochures will advise the parent on right feeding process that he should adopt; the material offered should be a method of aggressive anti-obese campaigns
Incorporate obesity cases in health insurance policies: this will assist the country suffering population to get proper medical attention for general improvement of their conditions

To attain the above objectives, there is need for corporation among all stakeholders involved. Parents should be given the mandate of ensuring that theory children are fed in the right way, they should ensure that food eaten by a child whether when with the parent or not is the right kind (Koplan, 2007).

Conclusion

Children obesity continues to be a challenge to the Americans; to get a remedy for the disease, the government, parents, communities, and patients should join efforts and promote healthy eating habits. At all lengths, junk foods and foods with high fat /oil contents should be avoided; the government has the role of controlling fast food and restaurants businesses. Outdoor activities should also be promoted to ensure that children use the calories they consume in foods. Parents should train their children right eating habits from infancy.

References

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2008). Obesity in children and teens. Retrieved 2 Apr, 2011 from
http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/obesity_in_children_and_teens

Bascetta, C. (2005). Childhood Obesity: Most Experts Identified Physical Activity and The Use of Best Practices as Key to Successful Programs. Boston: DIANE Publishing.

Ben-Sefer, E., Ben-Natan, M., & Ehrenfeld, M. (2009). Childhood obesity: current literature, policy and implications for practice. International Nursing Review, 56(2), 166-173.

Koplan, J. (2007). Progress in preventing childhood: How do we measure up? New York: National Academies Press.

Koplan, J., Liverman, C., & Kraak, V. (2005). Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in The Balance. New York: National Academies Press.

McNair, T. (2009). Childhood obesity. BBC Corporation. Retrieved 2 Apr, 2011 from
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/obesity2.shtml

Paxton, C., Donahue, E. Orleans, T.,& Grisso, J. (2006). Why should we care about? childhood obesity? Retrieved 2 Apr, 2011 from
http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=36&articleid=93&sectionid=571

Paxton, C. (2006). Childhood Obesity: The Future of Children. New York: Brookings Institutions Press.

Waters, E. Seidell, J & Swinburn, B. (2010). Preventing Childhood Obesity: Evidence Policy and Practice. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

World Health Organization. (2011). Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Retrieved 2Apr, 2011 from http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/en/

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