The report begins by presenting the historical background of childhood obesity and highlights the roots cause of this health condition in Arabian Gulf and the Saudi Arabia. The next section of the report will embark on the understanding childhood obesity and its various causes that are in the environment such as lifestyle and the diet the children eat.
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Childhood Obesity is so rampant in the current world and it is becoming a point of worry for most people as it leads to an unhealthy lifestyle (Water 300). Some children may not able to participate in their childhood plays unless they are guided and therefore they are prone to this health condition. The report will expound on the dangers that obesity poses on both the physical and psychological being of the children and how this can be prevented.
Historical Background. Childhood obesity is common in most countries around the world but it has been a rare case in Saudi Arabia. However, by the look of things, the experts project a possible 11.5 percent increase in the children with childhood obesity as time progresses. Bagchi (282) points out that the current percentage of Children in Saudi Arabia who may be obese at the age of five years stands at 23.1 percent.
About thirty years ago in the Arabian Gulf, childhood obesity was unheard of but with the current change of the way people live and in the social and economic lifestyle it has slowly began manifesting in the population and the prevalence seems to be raising at a steady pace. There has not been a specific statistical review on the obese children under five years but in Saudi Arabia, childhood obesity seems to be prevalent in the pre-scholars making up to 8.2 percent.
Definition. Childhood obesity can be observed in children from infancy to the point just before adolescence. The condition occurs when the weight of a child is over 120 percent of the median weight in relation to the height of the child. The definition of childhood obesity varies in different wordings but at the end of the day, they mean the same thing. Childhood obesity can also be regarded as a condition where a child has a great deal of fat in their body.
The world Health Organization also known as WHO becomes more technical in the wording of childhood obesity and explains it in terms of the body mass Index. Body Mass index is calculated by dividing the body weight, which is in kilograms, by the square of the height of the child in meters. Those children who have their BMI equal to thirty or higher are termed as obese (Korbonits 86).
Environmental. The environment within which children find themselves plays a major role in determining if a child will be obese. For instance, the fast developing world has changed to be a place where fast foods are most convenient in terms of time required to obtain them and children are mostly fed on this type of food.
Negligence on physical exercises that are greatly replaced by indoor entertainments such as television and computers has also contributed a lot to childhood obesity. Smith (30) says that children who would earlier on have gone to play football outside or other outside door games find it better to just stay indoors and play games on their computers as they consume high-fat foods which contributes to the obesity in their childhood.
Life Style. According to Smith (34), families these days have become so busy that most people are constantly on the move to work. This has left parents with very little time to prepare a nutritious meal that is balanced. Because of this, the families conform to buying ready-made fast foods to feed their children. These fast foods have high calories content and once the children eat them, they require plenty of exercises to burn off the calories.
In the modern lifestyle, the children are busy in the house with video games and computers. Children are also encouraged to read a lot and this kills the liking for outdoors games. Movement of the children is restricted, and exercise is sporadic not forgetting the occasional snack on sugars such as chocolates that increase the fat in the children and this is a major contributing factor to their obesity.
Dietary Factors. With more children enrolling to school, they spend most of their time there and hence most of the times eat at school too. The option of the children in picking what to feed on is unhealthy, as it may comprise of foods such as French fries or even pizza.
Most schools have also installed vending machines, which are resourceful for the children when it comes to buying the soft drinks such as sodas and the quick snacks such as the candy bars. This shows that mostly the children have only breakfast as a healthy dish. The accumulation of fats from all these unhealthy foods leads to the childhood obesity.
Physical. Flamenbaum (114) says that childhood obesity has brought about various effects on the physical being of a child, which in other cases manifest in form of diseases. One of the effects is that the child may be at a high risk of having high cholesterol.
This will alter metabolism in the child and may play a role in opportunistic diseases such as diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. The child may also develop problems with their legs leading to bow legs cropping from orthopaedic problems. This condition may lead to low activity of the child and may consequently result to weight gain.
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Psychological Effects. Children generally gain their identity according to how other people view them, and they are very critical in monitoring this. The child’s self-esteem depends on how the people react to him or her. In the case of an obese child, they may develop low self-esteem, because the society greatly ridicules the obese children and if a child grew up in this kind of environment without esteem re-enforcement, they may end up being depressed (Flamenbaum 120).
Depression can cause obese children to have their guard up because of insecurity. This insecurity will lead the obese children to feel inferior to other children. Others on the other hand may end up being outgoing and very flamboyant as a way of compensating for the shortcomings that the society has made them to believe, they have by being obese.
Primary Prevention of Overweight or Obesity. According to Hills and Neil (58), one of the primary methods of preventing childhood obesity at its primary level is through administering a balanced and healthy diet for the children. The diet is to reduce the total calories consumed by the child.
Children in school should also be educated on the benefits of consuming nutritious meals in order for them to make more healthy choices when selecting what to eat. Obese children should also be encouraged to take part in physical exercise, which will reduce their sedentary lifetime.
Behaviour modification is necessary and may sometimes go a long way in helping the obese child reduce weight where family and friends can greatly influence this. The family should ensure that the child consumes nutritious foods when at home and they should be encouraged to take part in outdoor activities, which will help them burn fat and hence control the risk of being obese.
Secondary Prevention Of Weight Regains Following Weight Loss. After the obese child has lost weight, he or she requires carrying out activities that will ensure they do not regain the weight they had worked so hard to lose. One of the ways to do so is by regulating the patterns of Television watching.
This will reduce the amount of time they spend watching television and subsequently reduce the amount of snacks consumed at this time. The children going to school should also be encouraged to carry healthy snacks to avoid buying the unhealthy snacks from the vending machines. Children should enrol in numerous activities to help them get rid of their sedentary life, which may have contributed greatly to their weight gain (Hills and Neil 70).
Governmental. The government can play a role in encouraging the obese children to lose weight. The first option would be for the government to give tax credits to parents who will enrol their children into activities that promote physical fitness by giving subsidies on the expenses incurred in sporting activities that the child may be engaged.
Jana and Hills (100) say the government can launch an initiative to pass awareness in the classrooms to encourage the children to feed properly and to keep off unhealthy snacks. This kind of education will go a long way in educating the children as they may even pass on the knowledge to their peers.
The government can also set up various centres where the children can take part in physical fitness and it should ensure that there are consistent activities taking place. This will ensure that children are attracted to the centres and they will find the outdoor activities as enjoyable as the games they play on their computers or video games.
Medical Treatment. Jana and Hills (108) state that one way of medical treatment of childhood obesity may be seen prominently in children who may have developed high cholesterol because of the obesity. The doctor recommends statin medication. This kind of medication is responsible in lowering the cholesterol in the child.
However, this remains controversial in the use among the children. There is also weight-loss surgery option, which also remains very controversial when treating obesity in children. This leaves only one option when treating the obesity, which is just to take a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Family Involvement. In a situation where the child is very young, the parents are required to enrol the child into a program that will help in the regulation of the weight in a healthy way. The most recommendable place for this exercise could be a health centre with special advice from a nutritionist and constant monitoring from a doctor.
Jana and Hills (120) state that the family can assist the child to reduce weight by helping them start with the small activities such as ensuring that the television is off during dinner, and ensuring that they serve milk for a drink in the place of soda. The family should also set goals that are realist for example ensuring that they take at least three brisk walk every week.
The family should identify various pitfalls that may lead to the child trying to beat obesity regain the weight they may have lost. If children manage to follow the routine within set period, their success is worth celebration as a way of encouraging them.
Social Treatment. The society has a role in helping build self-esteem of an obese child. The society has to reach out to the children and help them participate in activities just like any other normal child. This goes a long way in helping the obese child build back their confidence.
In this way, the case of depression in children will have reduced considerably. The society also has to ensure that they inculcate an attitude in their children to view their peers as their equal. The society has to shrug off the mentality that just because a child is obese, he or she should be looked down upon (Jana and Hills 143)
Graph representing childhood obesity in Arabian Gulf in 2006-2011
Bagchi, Debasis. Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity: Status, Consequences on Childhood Obesity. London: Academic Press, 2011. Print
Flamenbaum, Richard. Childhood Obesity and Health research. New York: Nova Science publishers, 2006. Print
Hills, Andrew & Neil, King. Children, Obesity and Exercise: Prevention, Treatment and Management. Routledge: BlackWell Publishing, 2007. Print
Hills, Andrew and Jana, Panzkova. Childhood Obesity. Boston: CRC Press, 2005. Print
Korbonits, Marta. Obesity and Metabolism. Basel: Library of Congress, 2008. Print
Smith, Clinton. Understanding Childhood Obesity. Mississippi: Library of Congress, 1999. Print
Water, Elizabeth. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Evidence Policy and Practice. West Sussex: BlackWell Publishing, 2010. Print