Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, it is defined as excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body and it is putting children at risk for poor physical and mental health. They say you are what you eat, and it truly reflects your image what you put inside your body. It is incredibly important to develop healthy eating habits at a young age. Although not everyone is raised the same, the lack of nutrients and vitamins from fruits and vegetables impact a child’s body negatively. Causing digestive problems, weight gain, among other health problems that should not happen early in life. The growth of instant food, family habits, government and school policies all affect the development of a child’s body.
They’re many causes that lead to obesity and the outcome takes a toll in their young life. The percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970’s. Fryar, C (2014). Parents and anyone surrounded by young children should be aware of the consequences of obesity and how we can help prevent the rate from going up. Together we can help reduce the risk and provide a healthy and bright future for our children.
They’re many factors that play a role in childhood obesity such as poor diets, lack of physical activities, metabolism, genetics, sleep deprivation and your surroundings such as your neighborhood, parenting style. Bad habits are hard to break and replace with nourishing ideals that will help a child’s developmental process. Although metabolism and genetics are hereditary they’re not directly linked as the main cause of obesity. Most if not all processed foods are convenient to obtain which is why most parents lean towards them.
Which leads to see the bigger spectrum behind their decisions, more low-income families can’t sit at the dinner table because the parent/s have to work long hours, third shifts, or hit overtime. These low-income neighborhoods frequently lack grocery stores and markets, they’re limited to small convenience stores and a greater availability of fast food restaurants. These stores typically lack fresh food, they’re usually stocked with microwavable meals and sugary beverages. Vehicle access plays a role in how fresh the food in the fridge is, meaning that a monthly trip to the grocery store is less likely to convey fresh fruits and vegetables that have a limited time to consume, whereas frozen dinners have a longer expectancy. While less expensive, energy-dense foods typically have lower nutritional quality, and because of overconsumption of calories, have been liked to obesity. Kant, A (2005).
However, these parental factors affect the child in the home significantly and may cause obesity and low social interaction which leads to lack of physical activities. The less active the more likely they’re at risk. The inactivity and time they dedicate to gaming systems, television, and computers is potential for physical activities. It goes on to a tangent of negative aspects that physically and emotionally affect the child’s life. Without a parent at home the child has the option of going to sleep whenever they desire, which may cause sleep deprivation and can also cause the child to over eat.
The effects that obesity does to the body may cause a lifetime of health problems if not addressed early in life. Obese children are more likely to remain obese as they transition into adulthood. The initiation of puberty is an adequate nutritional status, there is a possible link between early puberty and obesity. The limited studies based on this certain topic are unable to answer this statement. The female hormone estrogen is suspected to play a role in early puberty. Fat cells also produce aromatase which is the enzyme that synthesizes estrogen from other sex hormones. When excess body fat is present there is an excess estrogen production in the body much may cause overweight girls to develop faster.
The presence of the female hormone in boys could delay puberty, estrogen is influencing their development as it does for girls.
While obesity itself is not a chronic condition, it is a risk factor for four of the ten leading causes of death in the U.S which are coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, and cancer. Wolf,A.M (2001). Diseases that were once only seen in adults are now being seen in children. The numerous complications in relation to obesity are alarming, it is safe to say that as a child’s weight increases so does their chances to die.
Developing any type of chronic disease often requires long-term care which can accumulate to costly bills every year. The estimated annual health care cost of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. Cawley, J (2012). The last worry a child should have is remembering to check their sugar level or if they took their insulin shot. Type 2 diabetes affects children as young as 4, the freedom of being a care-free child is being taken away as soon as they’re diagnosed with a disease. Our children are our future and we must keep them healthy and strong. If obesity rates keep staggering an all-time high, the next generation may be the first to have a shorter lifespan.
Several psychological factors play a role in childhood obesity causing depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The emotional toll it takes on a child’s life is draining if they do not have proper help and guidance to a healthier lifestyle. Nothing is harder than looking at yourself in the mirror after all the comments from your classmates and peers regarding your weight. All of this tension may inflict psychological harm resulting in social stigmatization. It is defined as the extreme disapproval or discontent of a person. A depressed child loses interest in everyday activities and will sleep more to avoid interaction.
Food can become a comfort zone to them, often causing them to over eat and gain more weight. Most if not all the time they’re consuming high calorie snacks and sweetened drinks. Although some will starve themselves and end up binge eating causing a disorder to develop. Consuming large quantities of food at a fast pace on a stomach that has been empty for a week is causing a life-threatening disorder. Many eating disorders are caused by the main three factors I mentioned, it is important to keep a close eye on any child that may suffer from childhood obesity and is transitioning into an adolescence.
Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence appears more in school when the child starts to compare their bodies to the rest of their classmates. It can create a sense of hopelessness and can lead to low performances in school. Not wanting to present in front of the classroom or running the pacer test for gym class can set them back academically. The comments concerning the child’s weight consumes them and it’s all they think about. It creates anxiety and fear of being around social groups. They’re challenged in many ways, mostly physically which causes them to have a bad self-image, feeling like an outcast. Often teased at school and victims of bullying it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It can be a very dark time and it’s important to shine light on these issues and help these children see how beautiful life can be when you’re healthy and strong.
In conclusion, as a society we can all help and contribute to strive for a healthier lifestyle and inflict that on future generations. Working together as a family helps to uplift the child in need of guidance to see that their health is important. They’re many healthy alternatives to the fast food that we love to get when its’s easy and convenient. Keeping track of your water intake and creating healthy meals together will create a bond that no one can take away. Cutting in half high calorie and fat intake such as processed foods, sugar intake, and decreasing the portion size on your plate helps significantly. Setting goals and checking them off the list once completed will give the child a sense of motivation. The variations of physical activity are endless, they can be as simple as taking the dog for a walk or chores like cutting the grass or they can be as fun as a Zumba class.
The child must feel safe and secure doing any physical activities which might take a while to warm up too. Make sure you give them reassurance of their progress and how far they’ve come. Reducing the screen time provided by any device with outdoor activities helps the child become more active and social. This will help keep the child on their toes and will strive to join some sort of sport or an extra after school activity.
School policies and government programs should be a part of the curriculum in every district across the country. School policies shouldn’t allow sugary beverages in the school’s vending machine or high calorie snacks. Enforcing students to learn about the risk of obesity, how to avoid it and its long-term effects. Back in 2010, former first lady Michelle Obama shined light on this controversy topic and started a campaign Lets Move. This programs goal is to solve and challenge childhood obesity. Another government program is Choose My Plate, it goes deeper into the five food groups we should consume every day, they’re many resources ranging from eating on a budget and the necessary tools for achieving a healthy lifestyle.
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