Child Obesity Essay, Research Paper
Childhood obesity is more prevalent today than ever before. Our children for the future are being failed. Healthy living needs to be taken more seriously. More and more households have both parents working full-time jobs to provide shelter, food, and clothing for their families. Providing the basic necessities is not enough for a healthy family. Parents need to become more involved with their child’s life. Child obesity has been medically proven to increase the risk of long-term life altering illnesses. A more positive role by our nations parents should be taken to lead our children to a healthier future.
“Typically children who are about 25 lbs. above their ideal body weight are considered overweight, and those 40-50 lbs. above their ideal body weight are considered obese.” (Strauss 2). To determine if a child is considered obese or over weight a family doctor factors in the child’s age, sex, and body build.
The total number of fat cells in the body is the major factor in causing obesity. Each individual person has a unique number of fat cells in their body. Fat cells reproduce during early childhood and puberty of ones life cycle. Once fat cells have been created there is no way to reduce them. Eating unhealthy amounts and types of food during reproduction of these fat cells along with low physical activity will cause more cells to reproduce. Therefore, it is critical that a person is eating the right types and amounts of food and getting the right amount of physical activity during these stages of his/her life.
Food provides the major source of energy the body needs to function. If the input (intake of food) is greater than the output (physical activity) excess body fat will be stored in the fat cells, which causes obesity. Energy that is not used by the body will be stored as fat. The imbalance of energy can be caused by genetic and environmental factors. “Genetic differences account for 25-40 percent obesity. Changes in genes take many generations to have effect, so while obesity relates to both genetic and to environment, recent increases in obesity must be due to changes in environment.” (Gibbons ?). A parent cannot change his/her child’s genes, but it is possible to change the environment the child lives in to help reduce the chances of their child becoming obese.
Lifestyle changes over the past decade can account for an unhealthy pediatric population. Today’s parents are working longer hours and spending less time with their children. Working parents generally prefer their children to stay inside the home when there is no adult supervision for safety reasons. This leads to children spending less time playing outside and doing physical activities and more time staying indoors. Staying indoors leads to sedentary activities such as playing video games and watching television. Indoor activities generally do not burn as much energy as outdoor activities resulting in more energy being retained in the fat cells as fat or more fat cells being reproduced in a child’s body.
Poor eating habits developed at a young age can also cause obesity. The fast paced life-style of today’s parents rarely allows children to get a well-balanced meal even once a day. Due to an increase in work schedules, many parents are too tired when they get home from work to prepare a healthy meal for their family. Therefore, fast food, canned, and processed foods are a quick and easy fix to this problem. It is much easier to stop by the local McDonalds or Burger King and pick up dinner on the way home from work than cook a healthy balanced meal. Another problem with the eating habits of today’s children is the increase in the amount of soft drinks and snack foods children are consuming. Some snack foods are healthy, but most children prefer snack foods which are high in fat and calories and low in nutrients. Parents should start taking a more positive role in watching what their children are eating and drinking.
High-fat eating habits of an overweight and obese child can develop into certain life altering health problems in their future, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. These health problems can shorten a child’s life and will most certainly lead to an altered life style. Obesity cannot only cause physical health problems but may also cause mental health problems. An obese child may have self esteem problems. Obese children are more prone to have lower self esteem than children of normal weight. Children, which are obese generally have less athletic ability and may be more likely to be made fun of by the other children. This abuse at a young age may cause permanent self esteem problems throughout a persons life.
Providing a positive role model for a child is one important step to decreasing obesity in children. Most children will model their parent’s lifestyle and behavior. Parents need to take a more positive role in their children’s life by turning off the television and video games and doing more physical activities with their children. “Parents can involve kids in planning family hikes, bike rides, sports or outings to the park.” (Collins, MSN). Sending time doing physical activities with children will not only help the children but will also be good exercise for the parents.
Another important step in decreasing obesity in children is to teach them good eating habits. Eating the right kinds and amounts of food is very important to reduce the amount of child obesity in today’s society. Parents should realize that it is possible to prepare quick and healthy foods almost as ease as stopping off on their way home from work and picking up fast food. Cutting back on unhealthy snack foods and soft drinks is another important eating habit which will help to reduce obesity. Children will always want to eat snack food during the day. Parents need to provide nutritious snacks for children to eat between meals such as fruits and vegetables instead of candy and potato chips. Consumption of soft drinks by children should also be cut back. One way to accomplish this is by providing alternate drinks such as water, juice, or sports drinks and keeping the amount of soft drinks in the house to a minimum. Taking a positive interest in a child’s life is also important. Having a healthy sit down dinner with the whole family is a good time for family involvement. It can provide an opportunity for parents to talk with their children.
More positive parental roles will help to reduce the number of obese children in today’s society. “Childhood obesity is a family issue, and we shouldn’t just target the child. Improving the eating habits and activity levels of the entire family is necessary.” (Strauss ?). Obesity alone cannot be life threatening, but research has proven that an obese person is more likely to develop a life threatening disease than a person of normal weight. Children should be taught good eating habits and physical activities at an early age to help them live a long healthy life.
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