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Obesity and Children

It is an undeniable development that in the last 50 years, obesity among children has started to be a problem. In the 21st century, obesity has been considered by health care specialists to be an epidemic. The condition cannot just single out a child but it has been a problem of all human race belonging to different ethic groups. Majority of the causes of obesity can be traced to changing life style as a result of modernization and to a less caring society who got no time anymore to prepare nutritious food. Moreover, our children are left behind by their parents on their own to decide what they eat and when they eat and how they eat.

In the past, children have time to play outdoors with physical exertion to burn the food they have eaten and this was the reason obesity is not a problem in the earlier days. Today, television and video games are so challenging and exciting that children opt to indulge on them rather than play outdoor and exercise. The society and government should be responsible for some blame that obesity has now been an epidemic.. There are scientific studies pointing to the fact that the right approach to obesity is more on prevention rather than cure. This paper aims to document the causes of childhood obesity and the

ways to prevent its occurrence. Furthermore, the consequences of the epidemic will also be documented as well as its available medication. The information will serve as a first step into combating the epidemic. It is an accepted fact that obesity is characterized by excess adipose fat deposition around the body making a child much heavier in weight than normal. The National Institute on Media and the Family of the U. S. revealed that per American Obesity Association in 2006, about 15. 3% of 6 to 19 year old children and teens are obese. The Helpguide. org quoted in 2007 that “Childhood or juvenile

Adams 2 obesity has become a major health problem in many of the industrialized countries of the world. In the past two decades, the cases of childhood obesity have tripled in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, causing the World Health Organization to classify the problem as epidemic”. (1st par. ). As a proof on the seriousness of the obesity epidemic, Miller et al in 2004 reported that “ Data from the International Obesity Task Force indicate that 22 million of the world’s children under 5 yr of age are overweight or obese. Obesity has replaced malnutrition as the major nutritional problem

in some parts of Africa, with overweight/obesity being as much as four times more common than malnutrition [in the 21st century]” (4211). Health care experts specializing on obesity cure believe on the popular saying “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. It is therefore important to know the causes of obesity so that prevention and early management can be instituted. It is a common knowledge that obesity once it sets in is very expensive to manage and cannot be cured overnight. Causes of Obesity Among Children Miller, et al reported that in the past 40 years, there have been marked changes in the diet

and lifestyle patterns of Western nations. Such dramatic changes were the culprit in the alarming shoot up of obesity among children and adult. The scientists identified three major causes of obesity and they are as follows (4212): 1. Poor diet Fast foods and high calorie meals which are highly processed has now become the favorite food of the Westerners. It was reported that more than 60% of the Americans, youth and adult alike eat too much fatty foods and less than 20% eat the five or more fruit and vegetable servings which is the recommended practice for a balanced diet. Due to the fast paced

condition of life as a result of modernization, preparation of nutritious food has been neglected at home. The way of eating meals has also changed considerably and has been replaced by munching continuously all day long instead of the traditional three square meals a day. The reason is because highly processed foods like cookies, chips and junk foods are Adams 3 readily available without the need of cooking. Fast food outlets also double their portion sizes being sold at minimal additional cost. These also add extra calories by the hundreds. Fast-food marketing uses music, toys and super hero icons and was proven effective even at

30 second exposure according to Miller et al. Daily fast food being eaten by one third of American children aged 4-19 increases their weight by 6lbs per year. Schools now offer fast food concessions as an alternative to school lunch and the students prefer to buy foods from them. Lastly, the schools were given financial incentives for allowing vending machines selling soda, juice, cakes and chips inside their premises. 2. Lack of exercise Miller, et al reported that marked lifestyle changes in the past two decades resulted to decrease in physical activity and increase in calorie intake (4212). This undoubtedly result to

overweight and obese kids. While in the early days kids usually walk from home to school, now, they use automobiles and school buses. Escalators and elevators are being used instead of climbing the stairs in school. At home after school, instead of physical exertion by playing outdoors, kids usually spend time in front of tv watching and playing video games. Fear of playing outside from hoodlums and kidnappers by parents had confined the kids in front of the media screen. In addition, the scientists reported that physical education classes in schools are now greatly reduced and some eliminated them completely. Only about 22% of the American

kids regularly exercise and 25% were completely sedentary after the school. The mediafamily. org added that 8 to 18 year old kids per their study spent not less than 44. 5 hours per week in front of the media screen (Media Use And Obesity Among Children, 1st par. ). 3. Genetics The Helpguide . org revealed that being obese is hereditary. About 25-40% of obese children inherit this condition from their parents (Causes of Childhood Obesity, 4th par. ). It was proven that if a child came from a family with history of obesity and high calorie food is readily available and no time for physical exercise, then the child will surely be an obese.

As a proof Adams 4 that obesity epidemic can inflict all human race, the following was revealed by the helpguide. org. with respect to overweight kids by race (4th par): ? Whites (only)—11. 9 percent of boys and 12. 0 percent of girls. ? Blacks or African Americans (only)—17. 6 percent of boys and 22. 1 percent of girls. ? Mexican Americans—27. 3 percent of boys and 19. 6 percent of girls. This is due to the fact that based from studies, the family line of these kids possess the gene aberration related to obesity development. Also related to genetics and obesity, the biomedicine.

org revealed in 2005 that a study by Dr. Philippe Froguel from the Institute of Pasteur in France in collaboration with colleagues from Imperial College of London discovered that “a hereditary mutation in gene ENPP1 contributes to obesity in them and the early onset of type II diabetes” (1st par. ). The study was conducted in genes of 1,225 obese and 1,205 normal children. Consequences of Obesity in Children The Helpguide. org mentioned that the effect of obesity in children are both emotional and physical; the primary effect being the greater risk of developing heart diseases at a later age (Risks

to my child’s health from being overweight or obese, 1st par. ). The organization also mentioned that according to a published article in Journal of American Heart Association, the arteries of obese children are functioning similar that of a middle age smoker. Moreover, obese children were found to be 3 to 5 times more prone to heart attack and stroke than normal weighed children before age 65. Obese children carrying extra weight are also prone to Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, osteoarthritis, liver diseases, excretory system problems, asthma and cancer. More

damaging to the obese children are the social and psychological problems of having low esteem and constantly subject of bullying by peers resulting to depression and self-isolation. The latter usually result to school-related anxiety and ever declining academic performance. Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity Miller, et al stated that prevention of the onset of obesity should be the fundamental treatment Adams 5 to be done. In line with this, according to the authors, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2003 require their members to recognize children at risk for obesity and plot their BMI at all visits

and monitor for associated comorbidities. It was revealed by the authors that it is part of the professional responsibilities of the AAP to” encourage, support, and protect breastfeeding, promote healthy eating habits, promote physical activity, and recommend limitation of television viewing” Treatment of Childhood Obesity, 1st par. ). The authors further stated that in cases where obesity was not prevented, diet modification and exercise should be the main approach to prevent obesity to develop further. This means gradual reduction in food serving, decreasing fast food intake and snacks.

The authors caution that diet modification is not sufficient to effect weight loss. This is due to the fact that when calorie intake decreases, metabolism slows down which normally result to slowing down of calorie usage and difficulty in getting the desired weight loss. Exercise therefore is very vital to achieve weight loss. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 30 minute moderate exercise 7 days a week for all persons in the U. S. To achieve the needed weight loss, barriers to exercise in the likes of deficient motivation, time and support should be set aside. The authors

further stated that the benefits of exercise include increased sensitivity to insulin, increased metabolism, cardiovascular fitness and maintenance of successful weight loss. It must be remembered that children needs motivation and constant follow up. It is the responsibility of the parents and family to do this to ensure success. The authors emphasized that medical intervention or pharmacological preparations and surgeries which are proven successful in adults are not yet approved for children. It is imperative therefore that strong determination, discipline, close supervision together with diet and exercise were the

only alternatives to check childhood obesity. Government Initiatives to Prevent Obesity among Children Throughout the US, health care providers, policy makers and program developers as early as 2004 are seeking ways to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. Hayes in 2004 in his article entitled Financing Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Federal Funding Sources, enumerated the different initiatives by federal agencies and national organizations related to obesity prevention among children. They were Adams 6 as follows (Hayes 9): 1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called for the community to focus on childhood

obesity prevention through physical activity and good nutrition. 2. The American Heart Association (AHA) consider at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily to achieve respiratory fitness among children 2 years of age and above. 3. The Center for Disease Control implemented in March 2004, an advertising campaign that encourages Americans to start initial steps to lose and control weight. 4. The Center for Disease Control in FY2004 reported providing $15 million to support coordinated school programs related to physical education, family and community involvement, nutrition and

counseling services. 5. The Food and Drug Administration in March 2004 came up with a campaign to revise food guidelines and labels to ease the public on the nutritional content of processed foods. 6. The Department of Health and Human Services gave $2million to YMCA National Office in October 2004 to coordinate with communities and support activities related to better health promotion. Summary and Conclusion It was clearly documented from reliable sources that childhood obesity has now become an epidemic. It was also being recommended that interventions related to prevention of obesity should be done to

effectively arrest the epidemic. The whole family and children should find time together to limit exposure to television and substitute the time for tv viewing with exercise and at the same time prepare nutritious food for a balanced diet. The health consequences for obese children looks dim if intervention strategies together with the community and government will not be implemented as planned. Family and community discipline is badly needed so that cooperation will set it and approach the obesity epidemic as one strong determined force. . Discipline and determination among the community and society to

fight this epidemic has begun. The children are the hope of the motherland, let us all cooperate to save them from complications and early death. Let’s join efforts because the right time is now and not tomorrow. Let’s prevent setting in of the silent killer of our children. Hayes 7 Work Cited Bio-medicine. org. “Inherited mutation in gene ENPP1 may contribute to obesity and diabetes ll” Bio-medicine 27 Feb. 2009 <http://www. bio-medicine. org/medicine-news/Obesity-in-Children-may-be-linked-to-the- obesity- gene—3995-1/> Hayes, C. D. “Financing Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Federal Funding Sources”

Financeproject. org 28 Feb. 2009 < http://www. financeproject. org/publications/obesityprevention. pdf> Helpguide. org. “Childhood and Juvenile Obesity: Tips for Parents” HelpGuide. org. 27 Feb. 2009 < http://www. helpguide. org/mental/childhood_obesity. htm> Miller, J. , Rosenbloom, A. and Silvestein J. “Childhood Obesity. ” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 89. 9 (2004):4211-4218. National Institute on Media and the Family. ” Media Use and Obesity Among Children” Mediafamily. org. 27 Feb. 2009 < http://www. mediafamily. org/facts/facts_tvandobchild. shtml>

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