Obesity has become a big dilemma for the United States over the past few decades. Over one-third of the United States adult population is obese (“Overweight & Obesity”). Fortunately, obesity rates for children in the United States are not as high as in adults. About one-sixth of children in the United States are obese, however, another one-sixth are overweight and are well on their way to becoming obese (“Child Obesity”). There are many factors that contribute to children gaining weight and becoming obese. One of the mean reason is that children do not have healthy diets. The environment a child lives in is also a big contributor to childhood obesity. However, children’s weights do not necessarily mean they will become obese since they have not finished growing yet. There are numerous things that both the children and parents can do to prevent obesity and to help their children live healthy lives. This requires parents and their kids to learn about health education and obesity. Schools have also started to get involved in ending obesity. Although there are many things people can do to become healthy, only some of them actually get motivated to change their lifestyle.
The words overweight or obesity are commonly used to describe someone who has too much body fat compared to lean mass. The most common method used to estimate the body fat in an adult is by using the Body Mass Index (BMI). This method uses the person’s height and weight to estimate their BMI. Children grow at different rates, so doctors have to use “weight for age” percentiles. The “weight for age” method compares the child’s weight to an index that determines if they are at a normal, overweight, or obese weight (Gamliel et al). Since children have different body fat to lean mass proportions, overweight and obesity in children are defined differently than in adults. In children, from the ages of two to twenty, a weight for age percent in the 75th to the 90th percentiles is overweight; anything over the 90th percentile is considered obese (Gamliel et al).
Childhood obesity has been a trending topic in the news for the past few decades. Obesity can bring consequences for health both during their childhood and later in life as adults. In 1980, only about 8 percent of children were obese (“Overweight & Obesity Statistics”). Now, nearly 17 percent of children are considered obese (“Overweight & Obesity Statistics”). According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Globally, an estimated 43 million preschool children (under age 5) were overweight or obese in 2010, a 60 percent increase since 1990.” Obese children are more than likely to be obese as adults. These children are also increasing their risks to get a number of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes (“Childhood Overweight”). Dr. Rani Whitfield told Medical News Today,
“Childhood obesity is not a cosmetic issue or something the child will just grow out of. Obese children tend to become obese adults, and there are many medical issues associated with obesity. Children are now taking the same type of medications as their parents to manage blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. This is frightening but true” (Whiteman).
As if obesity in children transferring into their adulthood was not bad enough, there are many other concerns as well. There have been concerns that if obesity rates rise, health issues will rise. These concerns led to the Let’s Move program developed by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010. Aside from health issues, children who are overweight or obese face possible discrimination from classmates which may lead to depression and low self-esteem issues (Barry and Petry).
There are many factors that increase a child’s risk of becoming overweight. One factor is their diet. If a child eats high-calorie foods on a daily basis, it will most likely cause him or her to gain weight. Also, eating foods with large amounts of sugar can easily also result in gain weight. Another possible factor is genetics, which cannot be changed. If a child comes from a family with a history of obesity, they are more likely to gain more weight than if they came from a healthier family (“Childhood Overweight”). Research has also found that if there are changes in the digestive hormones, it can affect the signals that usually let one know whether a person is hungry or full (“Your Digestive System & How it Works”). Another great contributor is the child’s eating patterns. Children may skip meals, but when they finally get hungry, they increase the amount of food that they eat. The parent’s diet and physical activity habits can also be a big contributor. There are many parents with poor eating habits and they pass these habits on to their children creating an “obesogenic” environment in the home (“Childhood Overweight”). Psychological factors may also lead a child to become overweight or obese. Some children overeat to forget about their problems or deal with emotions such as stress (“Shape Your Family’s Habits”). There are many other things that contribute to obesity, but fortunately, proper education on health can help prevent it.
The environment children are raised in has played a major role in shaping their habits. They are surrounded by influences that lower the importance of exercise. Studies have shown that fast food restaurants are a big part of this (Miller et al). Over the past forty years, families eating out has increased immensely (Miller et al). There are many parents who get out of work and instead of making dinner for their families, they stop by a fast food restaurant to get their food. Fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturates and trans fat, sugars, and more. It can cause children to intake excess calories and eat larger portions of food. Fast food chains attract children more than adults because the restaurants are targeted towards children. Children watch commercials and are exposed to advertising of fast food restaurants. McDonald’s, for example, is a fast food restaurant that targets their commercials towards children. A lot of their advertising consists of a kid getting a toy when they order a Happy Meal (Miller et al). Regardless of advertisements, fast food consumption is very common and it has been growing tremendously in the United States (Miller et al). Convenience foods can also contribute to a child’s weight gain. This includes snacks such as cookies and chips. Also, many of the products that parents like to buy are the ones that won’t spoil quickly. These foods contain lots of salts and fats and they are less expensive than healthier foods (“Shape Your Family’s Habits.”). That makes it tempting to buy the unhealthy food, but parents need to think about their children and stop buying these foods.
Parents can do a lot to help prevent childhood obesity. Since parents are typically their children’s first role model, it is important for them to show them how to keep healthy. To do this they can start off by balancing the calories their child eats and drinks. If a child sees their parents starting to lose weight, it will motivate them to do the same (news in health source). Whether a child is obese or not parents can help keep them healthy. Parents can also help their children develop healthy eating habits by making their favorite dishes healthy and reducing their children’s temptations to eat unhealthy foods. Small changes in eating habits can lead to them living a healthier lifestyle. Another way parents can reduce the chances of their children becoming overweight is by helping them learn and understand why they should keep physically active. For example, they can tell their kids how staying healthy will make their heart and lungs stronger. Teaching them the benefits of keeping healthy will help them learn that it can help reduce stress and increase their self- esteem problems. Parents and their children should take at least half an hour every day of the week to do physical activities. Parents need to encourage their kids to go out and play. Children need to start spending more time doing fun activities and staying physically active rather than watching television all day. Creating a better lifestyle takes time, but small changes in eating habits can help make a bigger change than trying to changing everything at once. Taking a child to the doctor regularly can also help prevent them from becoming obese. Going to the doctors for a yearly check will help a parent know whether their child is healthy or not. Although hearing that a child is overweight may sound alarming, it could quite possibly be nothing to worry about. Many children that become suddenly overweight will grow into their extra pounds as they grow taller. Also, if a parent becomes too focused on their children’s weight may cause a child to eat even more or they may even develop eating disorders (Barry and Petry).
Schools have the potential to be one of the biggest contributors to preventing obesity. Schools play a major role in solving the obesity epidemic because over 95 percent of adolescents are enrolled in schools (Story et al). Children also spend a large part of their day at school, which makes it a good place to teach about nutrition and health. Although schools alone cannot lower obesity rates, they can still help make a difference in a child’s health. One way schools have already helped lower obesity rates is by requiring classes that have physical activities such as physical education classes. Most states have responded to the epidemic by adopting new policies which promote healthier eating. Many states have required schools to stop selling certain foods or drinks that contribute to obesity in vending machines such as soft drinks and candy. They have also added salad bars during lunchtime and have begun serving healthier foods. Other states have established policies in which recess is required to be included as part of the school day. For example,
“In Texas, the state department of agriculture issued a policy in 2004 that sets nutrition standards for foods and beverages available on school campuses, regulates portion sizes, and targets the elimination of frying as a method of on-site food preparation” (“The Role of Schools in Preventing Childhood Obesity”).
The administration, staff, and teachers in many states have come together to try to keep students healthy. They promote healthy eating and physical activity and are playing a strong role in making the lives of children better.
Many people choose to fight the problem of obesity instead of preventing it by becoming active and healthy. They have to learn about obesity and the importance of preventing it. Obesity has been a topic that has increased in the news over the past few decades. They need to gain a better perspective on why it is so important to start eating healthy and staying physically active as a child. There are many people in the United States that are not aware how important it is to start living a healthier life. It seems like many Americans don’t really care about the fact that staying healthy will keep them from developing health problems. The truth is that it is not difficult to make changes to one’s lifestyle. Something as little as drinking certain amounts of water can make a huge difference. Families can walk to places or ride their bikes instead of driving. Parents can also motivate their children to walk or ride their bikes to school instead of driving them there. If more people start making more small adjustments like these, then they would help make it possible to lower the obesity rates in the United States in the foreseeable future.
There are many people everywhere that talk about how there are many things people can change about their health but nothing has been done to actually decrease obesity issues. The most important way to change this is by making parents realize that they are the first step towards helping their children become healthy. They can encourage their children to eat healthy so they can carry on those healthy habits into adulthood and help prevent serious health issues. Obesity rates are very high in the United States while the rates of being physically active are low. If people change what they eat and become physically active, in addition to lowering obesity rates, they would improve their overall health. The best way to prevent obesity and health issues in children is by educating their parents and other adults on why they should start living a healthier lifestyle. And most important, they can improve their children’s knowledge about their health education at home.
As can be seen, childhood obesity is one of the most trending topics in the news today. Obesity in children has been growing tremendously and there must be something done about it. Doing so will not only keep children healthy but it will help prevent them from running into other health issues in the future. Although there are many ways to try to estimate if a child is overweight or not, the best way would be to visit a doctor. They will have the best opinion because they are well aware that every child is different. Childhood obesity has been increasing dramatically since the 1980’s, which is why First Lady Michelle Obama Developed the “Let’s Move” program to help children keep healthy. Factors such as overeating and eating out of home too much are what will make children gain weight faster. However, it has been known that for many children, genetics are the reason why they are overweight. Although there are many things that can make children gain weight, there are also many ways to help them lose weight as well but, it all starts with the help of the parents. Schools have also begun gaining interest and getting involved with helping to keep children healthy. Many may not seem to care about obesity in children, but it must be taken seriously. Not doing something to prevent it will not only make children obese, but it will increase their risk of having other medical problems as they become adults.