Childhoodobesity is a growing public health issue in the United States. One inevery three children is obese, making obesity the most common chronicchildhood condition in the country. The obesity pandemic is largelycaused by change in the people’s lifestyle, including increasedindoor activities for children and technology. Minimizing the riskfactors can benefit in preventing obesity.
Severityof the Issue
Obesityis a condition in which, a person’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is above95 percent. Obesity is a risk health condition and has both long termand short term health consequences. Children who are obese are atrisk of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure.According to a study by Center for Disease Control (n.d), in apopulation of children aged between 5 and 17 years, 70 percent ofobese children had at least one risk cause for heart disease, theyare at an increased risk for diabetes and bone and joint diseases. Inaddition, obesity leads to other social and psychological issues inchildren including low self esteem and stigmatization (CDC). In fact,being obese has been ranked the first cause of discrimination, behindrace.
Obesityresults from various factors. One of the major factors causingobesity is the changing lifestyles of children. Today children spendmore time in indoor activities including watching television, on theinternet and worst of it, playing video games (Frankset al., 2010).This reduces the time that children spend in physical activities.This lack of physical exercise increases children risk for obesity.
Inaddition, the environment is unfavorable for healthy lifestyle amongchildren. Marketers of fast foods and other high-calorie productstarget children and teenagers. It is common for a 400 calorie soda tobe sold to children. Parents also take their children to eat outquite often than in the past (Obesity Action Coalition, n.d). Eatingusually involves eating of fast food and large quantities of foodthan eating home. This increases children’s intake of calories, yetthey burn less.
Thesocio-economic status of a family can lead to risk of obesity.Families from low socio-economic status opt for foods that are highin calories since they are readily available (Obesity ActionCoalition, n.d). Besides, education level of parents, whichinfluences socio-economic status also influence eating behavior.Learned parents are able to make healthy food choices while parentswithout an education have no knowledge on healthy eating.
Theproblem of obesity can be addressed through various approaches.Basically, intervention is based on minimizing risk factors. One wayto address obesity is by addressing dietary behavior. Dietary therapyincludes visiting a nutritionist to establish an eating plan for thechild. The family should also be supportive in this therapy, avoidgoing to eat out, encourage eating together as a family during mealtime, and ensure healthy diet that include fruits and vegetables.Physical activity is another intervention that can greatly helpreduce obesity. Children should have at least 60 minutes daily ofphysical activity per day, according to the U.S Surgeon General(Obesity Action Coalition, n.d). Parents should control the timetheir children engage watching TV or playing video games. The lastway to treat obesity is surgery to remove excess fat. Thisintervention is only undertaken in extreme cases of obesity inchildren (Obesity Action Coalition, n.d).
Toachieve health in children, it is the responsibilities of both theparents, and the schools. Children spend most of their time in schooland it would be pointless to address obesity issue only at home. Theschool curriculum must increase play time in school, besides teachinghealth behavior modification among children. Parents should also besupportive to their children to live health lifestyles. They shouldact as role models and encourage their children towards achieving ahealthy life.
Centerfor Disease Control (No date). Facts. Retrievedhttp://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm (Accessed November24, 2014).
Franks,P. W., Hanson, R. L., Knowler, W. C., Sievers, M. L., Bennett, P. H.,& Looker, H. C. (2010). Childhood obesity, other cardiovascularrisk factors, and premature death. NewEngland Journal of Medicine,362(6),485-493.
ObesityAction Coalition (No date). What is ? Retrievedhttp://www.obesityaction.org/understanding-obesity-in-children/what-is-childhood-obesity(Accessed November 24, 2014).