Childhood Obesity has become a serious epidemic in America. Obesity leads to many other harmful health problems. Since children are not responsible for financially providing for themselves, there should be a penalty which parents should be held accountable if their child fails to meet a healthy standard according to his height and weight. Childhood obesity starts at home and carries over to society. America needs to be more honest with each other no matter how ugly the truth may appear. If we correct this ongoing epidemic, we will begin an era when diabetes and other heart related problems begin to decrease. Obesity leads to more than just physical issues, as it’s highly related to mental health problems as well. Overall, obesity is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later and if we begin preventive measures with the children of today it’s very likely that we can begin to put an end to obesity and stop it’s rapid linear growth which has been doubled since 1980.
Technology is one of the main causes of obesity. Technology and children go hand in hand. Nowadays everyone has some kind of phone or new technology. The media promotes all forms of obesity and children are the biggest victim. They see a product and immediately want it. That is because children are naïve and have little say in final decision making, but they can be used as leverage into persuading themselves into eating out rather than preparing a home cooked meal. My one source noted in his recent study, “The prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has increased in most Western countries in the last few decades. The recent secular trend seems to be more closely associated with increased inactivity”(Fogelhelm). Parents are responsible for buying them all the newest forms of game consoles, but not stressing enough the importance of going out, exercising, or getting involved in some type of activity.
Children and teens are exposed to hundreds of food commercials. Whether they know it or not, overtime it begins to stick as they begin to see these advertisements repeatedly and sometimes just give in to the marketing scheme if not once several times a week. According to Stat Crunch in collaboration with Pearson learning, the average college student spends more than 25 dollars a week. Relatively low but that is just the average. Whether this survey was accurate or not depending on the area, race, age, and gender results could vary. With that being considered regardless of the diet, when it comes to actively exercising there should be no excuse. These lazy teenagers were in most cases not always lazy children. Overtime, we begin to see more and more evidence which supports the recent increase we see in inactivity which could be the biggest contributor to obesity.
According to a source, approximately two in ten American youth ages 2-19 are considered overweight or obese. (Childhood Overweight and Obesity, 2011) Obesity is linked to other health issues such as heart disease, depression, hypertension, high cholesterol and type two diabetes. (Childhood Obesity, 2011). Being unhealthy as a child could lead to not only serious physical and mental health problem, but also when they become adults. Children who suffer from obesity have a higher chance of becoming obese as adults according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The majority of children fall victim to no after school supervision, quick access to fast food, and microwaveable dinners. As a result, children are not getting the proper nutrition needed for healthy growth. That’s why it’s so important for parents to watch what their children eat and make sure they’re getting proper nutrition and exercise. If these two subjects are touched upon we would see healthier children for the most part. In most families more times than not, both parents work consistent shifts, which ultimately leaves the children home alone. This is what parents argue. They work so their children can eat. Having to prepare food also makes their job as a parent seem impossible. This is the responsibilities that come along with being a parent. Being a parent means understanding your duties and raising your child to be as healthy as possible so they can pass off good health potentially to their kids in the future. With so many electronic game systems (Xbox 360, PlayStation, etc.) and a huge amount of television propaganda is aimed at children and teenagers, millions of kids are sitting in front of the TV, eating snacks, and forgoing a healthy lifestyle.
It’s rare to see young people outside playing at parks or in their yards. Pokemon go was the closest thing we have seen to it for a near decade. Years ago, children chose outside activities such as hide-n-seek, basketball, and many other different games similar in content. Parents would call out their windows and front doors, telling their children that it was time to come inside for a home-cooked family dinner. At least for me that was my experience of my adolescent days. This day and age children come home to an empty house because their parents are still at work or on their way home so they’ll eat anything that doesn’t take too long. Most of the time it’s just a meal they can grab and go without messing with their television time or homework. For the children who begin to age and see more homework have a different experience compared to those of the younger generation who instead of doing homework or getting exercise, are sitting in front of the television playing a video game or in front of the computer doing the same thing on a consistent basis.
Until recent years, the food offered at schools have been somewhat healthy, now kids can buy candy and soda from vending machines offered in their schools. Now it’s easier than ever to get a bag of skittles at school. Most children when given the option of an apple would choose the more sugary treat or desert. This is because of the way the media glorifies eating unhealthy. This leads to more and more early sightings of health both physical and mental problems.
There are many health problems that come along with being obese that can turn out to be very serious. Children that are obese are at risk for cardiovascular diseases that include high blood pressure or high cholesterol. According to the CDC, 70% of obese youth were at risk for cardiovascular disease. Diabetes we see also has become more common. Type 2 diabetes is the most common because it is caused by poor diet. It is very likely caused by the 2 minute microwave meals following school. Type 2 can usually be reversed with healthy eating and exercise. Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes can easily be prevented by just taking what we eat and how much we exercise into precaution.
Asthma is a problem that a child’s weight can interfere with and the growth of the lungs. A long term effect of childhood obesity is that it can last all the way through childhood and still be found as an issue in his/hers adulthood. Heart attacks and strokes also are seen as a risk if nothing was done to reverse the obesity over time. Health problems are a big concern, but a bigger concern comes with the psychological effects.
Low self-esteem in children today is extremely high, especially with the pressure of today’s society. Obese children suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and loneliness. Most obese children feel that they don’t fit in and are often fall victim to bullying whether it’s online or in person. We stress this perfect image and promote these godly features we see in celebrities. This ultimately lowers the confidence of someone who is or feels obese and then put them at higher risks to develop behaviors such as eating disorders and suicidal behavior.
Anorexia and Bulimia are strongly common in those who fall into the obese category.
Even children fall victim to physical and mental issues. The children are introduced to discrimination at a young age. Some studies showed that psychosocial consequences were more important to the children than the health effects. Obese children are still trying to discover who they are and all of the bullying and name calling that takes place can have a big impact on the way they feel about themselves.
This is the parent’s responsibility once again. It’s the parent’s job to make sure their kid grows up healthy and ultimately happy. There are many ways to prevent a child from becoming obese, like healthy eating and physical activity. Parents should provide their family with healthy food options and monitor the amount of sugary foods. If children only eat sweets every now and then, it truly will be a treat. Children and teens should participate in physical activities for at least 60 minutes a day. Schools also play a big part in preventing childhood obesity. Schools can provide healthy meals for lunch that provide nutrition education that encourages a healthy lifestyle. The parent’s and school should work together to inspire a healthy lifestyle. Working together for the ultimate goal has endless potential.
We see advertising for fast food everywhere no matter where we go and will not see any form of change until we do something to spark it. The media acknowledges children when coming out with new commercials. They know the bigger impact they have been given over the most recent years as their parents are usually busy from the minute they get back from work to the minute they go to bed we are beginning to see family dinners more and more at restaurants and not at home. The media glorifies McDonald’s fries and will continue to do so until society deems them not desirable anymore. The Obesity Society led by their corresponding author, Youfa Wang states, “On average, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased steadily among all US population groups over the past two to three decades.” Obesity does not have a preference on gender or race.
This may lead one to wonder “Will all Americans one day become overweight or obese?” We can put an end or at least regress the spiraling upward trend of obesity in Americans, but it is going to take a revolution to do so. For our children and future grandchildren we as a society must rise to take action in order to combat obesity and hope to see the number of people with the disease begin to regress and become a smaller issue than the increasing numbers we see occurring regularly.
Though some may argue they have little control or are not affected by this problem when push comes to shove we begin to all get affected. So I’m proposing that when a child becomes obese there should be a form of punishment. That punishment should be one that gives the parents the chance to seek guidance while learning to raise a healthier child. If a parent fails to meet this requirement, the child should be taken into a controlled custody where the child can begin their rehabilitation as the parent takes some sort of class so they can better guide and suit their child. Obesity should not be taken lightly as this is a disease that is just as dangerous as it leads to many more serious health problems.
Obesity may not affect you now, but over time as these numbers continue to rise and build momentum, it is only going to be when it is already much too late when we begin to do think about doing something about it. Whether it is your friend, family, or complete stranger, encourage others to seek a more healthy lifestyle including exercising regularly and better eating habits. Cooking a planned meal instead of going out to eat may be more beneficial, but with healthier ingredients and less sodium and sugar. It’s time we emphasize more exercise and glorify those who battle obesity head on and seek positive change in themselves and their society. We will begin to see stronger relationships being built amongst families and the rest of society as a whole. Lets bring back family dinners and lets glorify physical education again. This is the kind of change that can impact us positively in more ways than not.
Fogelholm, M., et al. “Parent-child relationship of physical activity patterns and obesity.” International journal of obesity 23 (1999): 1262-1268.
Lobstein, Tim, and Rachel Jackson-Leach. “Child overweight and obesity in the USA: prevalence rates according to IOTF definitions.” International Journal of Pediatric Obesity 2.1 (2007): 62-64.
Locard, Elisabeth, et al. “Risk factors of obesity in a five year old population. Parental versus environmental factors.” International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 16.10 (1992): 721-729.
Wang, Youfa, et al. “Will all Americans become overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity epidemic.” Obesity 16.10 (2008): 2323-2330.
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