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Obesity

A Closer Look

There is an obesity problem in the United States today. Obesity is a medical condition that is a result of having too much body fat. It comes from being overweight, or when someone's weight is greater than the 95th percentile of the body mass index for their height. It does not only affect adults, but also children greatly.

In the United States, there is a childhood obesity epidemic that needs to be looked at. From ages 2-5 the obesity rate in children is almost 10%. From ages 6-11 the rate in children is between 15-20%. Per the book, the obesity rate grew from 5% in the 1970s among two to five-year-olds (4% for six to eleven- year-olds) to high as nearly 14% in 2004 (19% for six to eleven-year-olds (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014.)  The concern persists for the 12.7 million children under the age 19 who have obesity. The highest incidence of obesity was identified among Hispanic (22.4%), non-Hispanic black youth (20.2%), with lower rates among non-Hispanic white (14.1%) and Hispanic Asian (8.6%) youth.

These are reasons as to why obesity occurs: no physical activity, type 2 diabetes, food affordability, diet and lifestyle, genetics, using convenience foods and eating away from home. The first reason is no physical activity. Children need physical activity, and they need it daily. Per the website, older children should get 60 minutes of physical activity. Children of age two to five years should play actively several times each day. The second reason is type 2 diabetes. Types 2 diabetes is a condition in which insulin is produced by the body, but the cell receptors do not function and glucose from the blood stream cannot be taken up by the cell, often associated with overweight and obesity. Type 2 diabetes results in elevated blood sugar levels, but the cause is very different. Per the book, children who have type 2 diabetes still make insulin; however, receptors in the cells are not functioning, which is often associated with being overweight and obese. The overall goals of diet therapy for children with type 2 diabetes is providing a nutritious diet that minimizes elevations in blood sugar levels by focusing on the carbohydrate content of meals. 

The third reason is food affordability. The economy has left many parents struggling to purchase sufficient food to meet the needs of their families. Many families lost their jobs and remained unemployed. Another problem is the increasing cost of the food. All these factors contribute to the difficulties families face with putting adequate food on the table. The fourth reason is diets and lifestyle. Life is now more sedentary. Kids spend more on their electronics than playing outside, and kids younger than 6 spend an average of two hours a day in front of a screen. Older kids spend four and a half hours a day watching TV, DVDs, or videos. Kids who watch TV more than four hours a day are more likely to be overweight compared to kids who watch two hours or less. The fifth reason is genetics. Genetics also can play part in what kid’s weight. Genes help determine body type and how the body stores and burns fats, just as they influence other traits. The sixth reason is using convenience foods. Families who choose to eat at home often look for convenient and quick-to-prepare foods. Per the book, over 50 percent of families have dual incomes, and 5.2 percent of all women employed hold more than one job. The last cause of obesity is eating away from home. Families who travel often rely on fast food.

You should be concerned if your child has extra weight, because weighing too much may increase the chances of your child developing health problems now or later in life. Per the book, being overweight or obese during childhood is of great concern because of the immediate, as well as long-term health consequences. There are a lot of affects but I am only going to name a few that people should be concerned about. They are sleep apnea, psychosocial impact of obesity, inadequate physical activity, and food insecurity. The first concern is sleep apnea. Per the book, sleep apnea (asthma) is a sleeping disorder in which a person’s breathing pauses during sleep. It is a risk for diabetes. The conditions can interfere with learning and contribute to a higher incidence of absenteeism. Being obese at a young age and over a long period of time can have a significant adverse impact on health and longevity. The health-related consequences of obesity could become self-perpetuating.

The second concern is the psychosocial impact of obesity. Children who are obese often develop low self-esteem, depression, and tend to have poor peer interactions. Children who are facing obesity face stigmatizing attitudes by the adults, even those who care for them. Per the book, The impact of negative stereotyping and marginalization by peers is particularly painful for obese children. Students become more sensitive to obesity. They want to be with friends that are not obese so that they aren't linked to negative personality traits, such as laziness and sloppiness. The third concern is inadequate physical activity. The lack of sufficient physical activity contributes to the other side of obesity. Energy expenditure is the amount of energy or calories used by the body during rest and physical activity. Some practices in early childhood and school settings may contribute to inadequate physical activity among young children. They provide little space for safe indoor or outdoor active play, and offer insufficient opportunities for physical activity in daily programming. They devote most of the school day to academic achievement at the cost of exercise. They neglect to train teachers in after-school programs who might be able to promote and model physical activity. They are withholding recess as a form of punishment, or as a means to have children catch up on assignments, and they are eliminating physical education classes due to funding constraints. Teachers are in a great position to encourage activity in young children by increasing the amount of time in kids' daily schedules that is devoted to outside play and incorporate physical activity into daily routines.

The last and final concern is food insecurity. Food insecurity is the lack of access to enough food to prevent hunger at all times due to lack of financial resources. Food insecurity can result in obesity for low-income children. Per the book. The rationale behind this association is not completely understood; however, food insecurity can lead to less expensive, less healthy food choices that are limited in variety. Per the book, children who do not have a consistent source of food may overeat when food is available. Low-income families often must choose high-fat, energy-dense, inexpensive food to maximize their calories per dollar spent.

Children need healthy eating choices. You as a parent should be a role model. Consume healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, soy products, eggs, fat-free or low-fat milk, water, fat-free or low-fat yogurt. You need avoid serving large portions to your children. To help you child develop a healthy attitude toward food and eating, you should not make your child clean his/her plate. Give your child a healthy snack instead of unhealthy. To encourage physical activity, you should let your child choose a favorite activity, help your child find simple fun activities to do at home, limit time with electronics, and let your child and other family members plan active outings.