Childhood Obesity: Risks For Health And Ways To Solve It
Childhood obesity has become an increasingly dangerous trend in our society today. Webster’s dictionary defines obesity as “a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body.” According to the World Health Organization in 2012, it was “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.” Over the past decade, despite the efforts made by the government, like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, the numbers of children with childhood obesity continue to be on the rise. During the announcement of her Let’s Move campaign in 2010, Obama said this, “’The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake. This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved.” Knowing that the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades alone is daunting, but it is an issue that can be solved.
Obesity can put you at a greater risk for many health risks. Overweight children are putting more strain on their bones that have not even finished growing, which is putting them at much higher risks for orthopaedic complications than non-overweight children. Due to these complications they could have decreased mobility which in turn perpetuates the sedentary lifestyle that is a major cause for childhood obesity. In conjunction with these orthopaedic complications, this lifestyle could also lead to some very serious health complications. An excessive amount of adiposity, or fat tissue, around the heart can put severe strain on the heart muscles which can lead to cardiomyopathy and eventually, heart failure. While rare in children of a normal body mass index (BMI), children that are overweight or obese can also develop hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to Daniels, children who are overweight or obese have a threefold higher risk of hypertension than children of a normal BMI (2012). Childhood obesity has been linked to the rise of a multitude of health problems that were previously only been found in adults, such as, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, gallstones, high cholesterol, and that’s just to name a few there are many more heath risks that are higher for overweight or obese children.
The cause in this rise of overweight and obese children could be the product of many different things, one of these being the fast food industry. In 2013 a study was done by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, they found that the fast food industry had spent $4.6 billion on advertisement targeted to children. The fast food industry has grown exponentially in the past few decades. In 2015, according to Pew Research Center there were over 160,000 fast food restaurants that were serving over 50 million consumers in just one day in the united states alone. Having a cheap and easily accessible food option is the ideal way to go in today’s fast moving society. Childhood obesity is found in higher numbers in low income communities simply because healthy food is less accessible to them because it is more expensive. If we made healthier options more affordable and easily attainable, like the fast food options are, we would see these obesity rates in children lower rapidly.
There are many ways that we, as a society, can lower the numbers of children that are overweight and obese, one of these ways starts with the parents before conception. In a study done by Hamilton in 2010, he found that obese women are more likely to have overweight children, due to changes in the intrauterine function during pregnancy. Another risk factor for having an overweight infant is regular smoking during pregnancy. It has been well documented that if you are overweight or obese as a child it will more than likely continue on through your adult life. Something that parents can do during infancy of their child to try and keep their baby at a heathy weight is breast feeding their child, if possible. It has been reported by HHS that breast feeding your children could help lower the risk of childhood obesity by giving them all the healthy nutrients that they need.
Preventing childhood obesity starts at home, but the fight needs to be continued in our schools. Over the recent years, there have been many school-based nutrition programs that have been put in place by legislators to try and put a stop to this recent epidemic. These programs have, overall, proven to be ineffective. The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center did a study in 2009 and found that children were more likely to be overweight by eating the lunches served in school than children who brought their lunches from home. Children spend most of their time during the day doing sedentary activities. These activities have taken the place of the physical activity that they should be doing. According to Green & Reese in 2006 “only 3.8 per cent of elementary schools, 7.9 per cent of middle schools and 2.1 per cent of high schools provide daily physical education.” Most of these school based programs only take into effect either the issue of healthy eating, or the issue of children needing more physical activity, and not both. The Programs that have focused on both issues are the programs that have seen more success.
In conclusion, the issue of Childhood obesity is a huge issue that our society is faced with today. There are many health risks that can be prevented. Not only do families have to tackle this issue at home, but also schools need to do their part to help the number of overweight or obese children diminish.
- Seipel, M. M. O., & Shafer, K. (2013). The Effect of Prenatal and Postnatal Care on Childhood Obesity. Social Work, 58(3), 241–252. https://doi-org.eznrcc.vccs.edu:2443/10.1093/sw/swt025
- Tennant, G. (2014). Preventing Childhood Obesity by Managing Pregnancy Weight Gain. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 29(2), 41–45. Retrieved from http://eznrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=103934277&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Robinson, G. A., Geier, M., Rizzolo, D., & Sedrak, M. (2011). Childhood obesity: Complications, prevention strategies, treatment. JAAPA: Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (Haymarket Media, Inc.), 24(12), 58–63. Retrieved from http://eznrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=108154263&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Berry, C., Burton, S., & Howlett, E. (2017). Double Trouble: Commingled Effects of Fast Food and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and the Intervening Role of Physical Activity on Childhood Obesity. Atlantic Marketing Journal, 6(2), 55–65. Retrieved from http://eznrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=126613924&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Hoelscher, D. M., Sharma, S. V., & Byrd-Williams, C. E. (2018). Prevention of Obesity in Early Childhood: What Are the Next Steps? American Journal of Public Health, 108(12), 1585–1587. https://doi-org.eznrcc.vccs.edu:2443/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304779
- Green, G., Riley, C., & Hargrove, B. (2012). Physical Activity and Childhood Obesity: Strategies and Solutions for Schools and Parents. Education, 132(4), 915–920. Retrieved from http://eznrcc.vccs.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ994252&site=ehost-live&scope=site