Childhood Obesity In The United States And Term Paper

Length: 9 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Health - Nursing Type: Term Paper Paper: #68016766 Related Topics: Childhood Obesity, Childhood, Hunger Games, Body Mass Index
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … childhood obesity in the United States and many of the other Western nations have been growing at an alarming pace. This topic is interesting for many reasons. One such reason is that childhood obesity affects the first world at a much higher rate than developing nations. As society grows more technologically advanced and has mass produced foods then this seems to open many dietary challenges. Although food may be plentiful, the nutritional value is poor in cheaper foods in the United States that are processed and packaged. For example, there are a variety of cheap packaged pastries and soda drinks that are highly portable, inexpensive, and easily accessible which makes them popular among many demographics. This analysis will look at childhood obesity from many angles and try to develop a campaign that can help mitigate this growing trend.

Childhood Obesity Risks

There are many factors that have been identified that can contribute to childhood obesity in the United States. One factor is related to the lack of physical activity. Children in the U.S. In some demographics have begun to live more of a sedentary lifestyle that can include activities such as playing on the computer, tablets, or playing video games. The development of more sedentary activities has engulfed much of the time in which children have to engage in physical activities such as sports or even playing outside with their friends.

As a result of using more and more time in sedentary activities children do not naturally burn as many calories as the average child in previous generations or in the developing world. The lack of physical activity translates into the fact that children will not burn as many calories throughout the day on average. Those children who have high calorie intakes who do not engage in the physical activities that are required to burn these calories will store these calories in their bodies as fats. Furthermore, if the child has a high calorie intake coupled with a sedentary lifestyle then this can compound the issue.

Poor eating habits are also one of the primary factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Children on average are now consuming more foods that are high in calories because much of the food made available to them includes processed sugars such as high fructose corn syrup which is an energy dense food additive. Furthermore, many of the eating habits have also changed. For example, some children are more likely to eat during times in which they are actually not hungry and snack frequently throughout the day. Children can develop habits such as snacking while watching television or playing video games.

There is also has been a rise in proportion size in the meals that are fed to children. For example, many fast food franchises have been marketing larger or "supersized" meals to young children for years. In response to the obesity epidemic, many fast food retail chains have recently worked to integrate healthier foods into the fast food model (Lucadamo, 2011). However, even though the nutritional value in some of the meals has improved, there is still much work to be done and healthier fast food options only represent a small portion of the total solution.

Unhealthy food and calorie dense foods come in a variety of forms and fast food is only one source of these. Processed foods found in the supermarket are also incredibly popular. These foods are incredibly convenient for families because they are easy to prepare, store, and consume. In many cases the busy family will not have time or knowledge about how to prepare a home cooked meal. Most families today consist of two working adults or a household with only one parent. There is not a lot of time or energy that can be made available to consider different dietary needs and prepare meals. Furthermore, it can also be more expensive to prepare fresh food which makes cheaper processed food even more attractive.

All of these factors have contributed to childhood obesity. Poor diets and the lack of physical exercise will ensure that a child begins to accumulate excess body fats and can compromise there health in many ways. Diseases associated with obesity in adults are cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and


This conditions can also lead to other conditions such as blindness, neuropathy (nerve damage), and even kidney failure in some extreme cases (Mokdad, et al., 2001). It was not until recently that many of these conditions associated with these diseases were typically found only in adults. However, with the rise of childhood obesity, these diseases are more commonly being found in young children.

A strong correlation between childhood obesity and childhood diseases has now been identified (Dietz & Bellizzi, 1999). A young individual is far more susceptible to certain diseases if there body fat is significantly higher than what would be considered normal levels. Thus obesity can represent a significant risk factor in the overall health of the child. This is especially troubling because young children however do not understand or fully realize the risks that they taking by being overweight. It could almost be argued to be a form of child abuse. When parents do not actively participate in the health of their children they are putting them in substantial risk for contracting diseases at a very early age and the prevalence of this trend has become a series public health issue.

School Lunches

One of the ways to try to address the public health problems that are associated with childhood obesity is to look at school lunches. The role of school lunches in addressing childhood obesity is considered an important piece of an overall strategy to address the epidemic for many reasons. It has been found that if students begin to adopt healthy eating habits at an early age then they are far more likely to carry on these behaviors to adulthood. Yet many children are only exposed to the eating habits of their parents and these can commonly be the source of children learning their dietary patterns and behaviors (Epstein, Gordy, Raynor, Beddome, & Paluch, 2001). One study has indicated that when the parents replaced unhealthy foods with a diet composed of a higher percentage of fruits and vegetables then this can have a significant impact on the body fat that a child has in less than a one year period (Epstein, Gordy, Raynor, Beddome, & Paluch, 2001).

Outside of the home, most children eat the meals provide for them by their schools. The school lunch and the school cafeteria environment represent another opportunity for students to learn healthy eating behaviors. For many children, this is there only opportunity to learn about proper diet and nutrition. One study has shown that children who eat school lunches that are prepared by the school are more likely to become obese than peers who bring their own lunches to school even when the obesity rates of entering kindergarten are considered (Schanzenbach, 2008). The study also identified an income factor that can be correlated with childhood obesity. The students that were eligible for income assistance for school lunches showed higher rates of obesity than children who paid for the same school lunches.

In a 2008 Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee comprising 14 child-nutrition experts examined data on the content of school lunches in the United States, it indicated that (Baidal & Taveras, 2014):

Children ate strikingly few fruits and vegetables, with little variety

Potatoes accounted for one third of vegetable consumption.

Intake of refined grains was high.

Almost 80% of children consumed more saturated fat than was recommended, and sodium intake was excessive in all age groups.

Children ate more than 500 excess calories from solid fats and added sugars per day.

These results were produced after the passage of the Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 that established new nutritional standards for schools. Furthermore, there is some risk of the new standards being challenged by new legislation that would return the standards back to the previous levels.

Legislation and Advocacy

The government's role in promoting health and nutrition in various parts of society has remained a controversial topic. Some cities have been experimenting on ways to address various public health problems. One example has been bans to limit sugar intake based on a model that was used to help reduce the prevalence of smoking. Many sugary drinks and foods are strongly correlated with childhood obesity and adult obesity and as a consequence of their over-consumption, have received an enormous amount of negative publicity. Some of the legislation that has been introduced in response to obesity includes the city mayor in New York City, Michael Bloomberg, who introduced legislation that limits the sale of large sugary drinks to sixteen ounces (Reimer, 2012).

While this may seem like common sense to some, there was a dramatized response in the media. There are powerful industries that profit from the sale of unhealthy foods that have voiced very strong opposition. For example, the refined sugar industry has…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Baidal, J., & Taveras, E. (2014). Protecting Progress against Childhood Obesity -- The National School Lunch Program. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1862-1865.

Chen, M., Collins, E., Tao, L., & Lu, C. (2013). Simultaneous determination of residues in pollen and high-fructose corn syrup from eight neonicotinoid insecticides by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry, 9251-9264.

Chicago Defender. (2003). Obesity and Fat Farm Subsidies. Chicago Defender, 1.

Chung, M., Ma, J., Patel, K., Berger, S., Lau, J., & Lichtenstein, A. (2014). Fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or indexes of liver health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 833-849.
Lucadamo, K. (2011, July 13). Fast food menus for kids get healthy makeover; 19 chains to offer healthier options for children. Retrieved from New York Daily News:
Reimer, S. (2012, January 12). Soda ban has New Yorkers in a fizzy. Retrieved from The Baltimore Sun:

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