Childhood Obesity Imagine Living as an Obese Essay

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Childhood Obesity

Imagine living as an obese child. What are the trends with this phenomenon? Will he or she discover a way of changing his or her lifestyle? These children have a number of issues that arise because of this occurring at such a young age, which one will investigate further.

In the United States, childhood obesity has become a health problem. "The number of adolescents has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled. 16% of children age 6-19 years are overweight" (ASPE, 2011, para 1). Those that have this problem are predominantly that of minorities. For example, those that are African-American as well as Mexican-American from the ages of 12-19 are more likely to become overweight by 21-23%; however, 14% were those who were non-Hispanic white teenagers. From 1992-2002, "another 15% were at risk of becoming overweight. Those that are 5-18 years old, 39% were found to be overweight or at risk for overweight" (ASPE, 2011, para 2).

One needs to look at the long-term conseqeunces of this matter. An individual is at risk of having high cholesterol, which also incldes hypertension, and many other health ailments. The biggest is that of Type 2 Diabetes, and is usually linked to obesity in children and adolescents, especially those that are "African-American and Hispanic/Latino populations" (ASPE, 2011). What is interesting is that this can cost up to $127 million dollars as demonstrated back in 1997-1999 (CDC, 2011b).

Looking at the long-term consequences, overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, which increases to 80% if one or more parent is overweight or obese. Obesity in adulthood increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and a general poor health status. In 2000, the total cost of obesity for children and adults in the United States was estimated to be $117 billion ($61 billion in direct medical costs) (ASPE, 2011, para 4)

Many causes are worth mentioning on childhood obesity. This is usually a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits (CDC, 2011a). "Genetics and social factors-socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, media and marketing, and the physical environment-also influence energy consumption and expenditure" (ASPE, 2011, para 5). All of these work together as a means in which to make this issue become worse for the individuals who have it at a young age clear up until adulthood. Despite all the research, not one single factor can get isolated the causes (ASPE, 2011).

"Among adults, a negative relationship between socioeconomic status and being overweight or obese is well-established, however, the relationship appears weaker and less consistent with children" (ASPE, 2011, para 5). Children that are Black as well as Latino that have a higher socioeconomic status are as likely to become obese as those that have lower incomes. For example, in 1998, at least 21.5% of those that are Black and 21.8% of Latinos were considered overweight; however 12.3% were white (ASPE, 2011). "African-Americans and Hispanics increased 120%, as compared to a 50% increase among non-Hispanic Whites (ASPE, 2011, para 7).

Parents do influence their children on their eating habits. These include the following. How an infant is fed, food made available, children that are left unsupervised as well as their interaction with others (CDC, 2011a). Many studies have demonstrated that breastfeeding does have some level of prevention from obesity with children. This may cause the individual to have healthier eating habits too. One has to not ethat this is primarily because of the flavors, which does include a variety of foods. These are because of the babies sensory expereinces that baby experiences from the milk that is transmitted from the mother to his or her son or daughter (ASPE, 2011).

When children are older, they learn that eating is a social activity. This helps to shape their food preferences because of the model that was provided to him or her as a developing child. Not only that, but also occurs in the presence of one's parents as well as others around them at any given time. Through this, one learns of the correct behavior and to try new foods at that time. Regardless, the child is influenced by every activity around him or her when it comes to food (ASPE, 2011).

Over the last three decades there has been an increase in the number of dual income families as more women have entered the workforce and there has been an increase in the number of women serving as the sole supporter for their families. It has been hypothesized that increased rates and hours of parental employment may be correlated with the weight increases in American children (particularly for women because they still bear the bulk of the responsibility of caring for children). Studies have demonstrated that children in single-parent families are more likely to be overweight or obese than children

in two-parent families and that the rise in women working outside the home coincides with the rise in childhood weight problems (ASPE, 2011, para 9).

Here are a number of constraints were considering. This includes that of parent's time with their children. For example, a parent that is able to spend more time with their child is more likely to eat healthier, instead of eating processed foods that come from those that are in the grocery store or at a fast food restaurant. When children are left unsupervised in an after school program, rather than taking part in physical activity. Many child care providers may not have the means in which to keep the children active and eating healthy. What is interesting is that those that are unsupervised may spend more time indoors, and will engage in television or video games, rather than going outdoors. What has occurred over the years is that the changes have impacted how children and adults spend their time in their homes, which brings about different a variety of behaviors that are unhealthy. The parents may or may not appear as influential as they were in the past, along with what kind of foods and activities do take place during the course of a day (ASPE, 2011).

Genetics impact those that are children who could become obese. "Evidence from twin, adoption and family studies strongly suggests that biological relatives exhibit similarities in maintenance of body weight, and the heredity attributes between 5-40% of the risk of obesity" (ASPE, 2011, para 11). Furthermore, other studies suggest that at least 50-70% of the BMI of a person is determined genetically, and that at least a 75% chance the child could become overweight, especially if both parents are considered obese, and if it is a single parent, then it is 25-50% (ASPE, 2011).

In regards to the genetic code, this is worth mentioning. At least 6 genes are identified that do impact obesity, but only affect 150 people (ASPE, 2011). What makes a person suseptible is because of multiple genes that usually interact with the environment as well as one's behavior. This does not guarantee that a person will face weight issues in the future or later develop this disease (CDC, 2011a). Furthermore, the weight increase that is observed does not necessarily correlate to genetics. These areas generally remain the same. Regardless, this comes down to the environment, and not primarily on genetics (ASPE, 2011).

The next area is that of marketing and advertising that one sees as a child on a regular basis. Much debate has occurred over the years on food and the rate in which obesity has occurred (ASPE, 2011). "While the positive correlation between the hours of television viewed, body mass index, and obesity incidence has been documented, the exact mechanisms thorugh whith this occurs are still being investigated" (ASPE, 2011, para 13). According to the, estimates, children watch at least 40,000 commericals a year, which is considered an increase from 20,000 during the 1970's. Not only that, but also much of the advertisements (50%) are directed toward children in order to get them to have beverages and candy as well as any kind of snack food that is available (ASPE, 2011).

For example, "annual sales of foods and beverages to young consumers exceeded $27 billion in 2002. Food and beverage advertisers spent on media advertising to children at least $10-12 billion; more than $4.5 billion is spent in a year" (ASPE, 2011, para 12). Not only has that, but also fast food restaurants spent at least $3 billion when it comes to television advertisements. Research indicates that as one is exposed to food advertising, he or she is more likely to have an increase chance of becoming obese. Furthermore, children under the age of 8 believed the advertisements and were susceptible in believing what said as true vs. those who were older knew that it was false; however, this did indicate the food choices that were made by the child. Correlations do exist between what is marketed to children, and how one's behavior is changed. More research has occurred over the years that…[continue]


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