Obesity in children is on the increase making it to be termed as a public health issue. Health is a critical issue in the life of individuals and thus the need to maintain it to the highest level possible. Obesity is a serious disease due to the effects it has on a victim’s body and the treatment consequences that are associated with it. The problem is even worse in the United States of America where it affects many individuals irrespective of age.
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Child obesity in the United States is, for example, an issue of concern since it has been on the increase, an ailment that was sometimes back associated with only old age and the elderly people. For this reason, child obesity in America has attracted a lot of attention from different angles including the state, federal, health institutions, and non governmental organizations among others all in an effort to find solutions to the ordeal and hence make the situation better by saving lives of the children.
I am interested in this topic since it is a concept that touches almost on every individual and provision of relevant information concerning the topic will help deal with the condition and thus make the situation better. The focused aspects of this topic to be covered include the causes of obesity, the risk factors associated with child obesity, the treatment that should be offered, family behavior and child obesity as well as some of the interventions that should be established by different bodies including the government, to handle the situation.
Some of the obstacles I would encounter in my research include inability to get specific statistics in relation to cases of child obesity. Meeting the victims or the relatives of those affected is also a difficult concept. I feel that the audience most suited for this topic is parents and caregivers. Medical practitioners and governments could also benefit from the research.
- American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Obesity in Children and Teens. 2008. Web.
- Blackburn George and Kanders Stefannie. Obesity: pathophysiology, psychology, and treatment Beatrice. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 1994.
- Christakis, Nicholas & Fowler, James. The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2007.357, 370-379.
- Emedicinehealth. Obesity in Children. 2011. Web.
- Fletcher Gerald, Grundy Scott and Hayman Lucia Laura. Obesity: impact on cardiovascular disease. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.
- Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public Accounts. Tackling child obesity – first steps: eighth report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence. New York: The Stationery Office, 2007.
- Kalavainen, M. P, Korppi, M. O. & Nuutinen, O. M. Clinical efficacy of group-based treatment for childhood obesity compared with routinely given individual counseling. International Journal of Obesity, 2007, 31, 1500–1508. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803628.
- Latnera, Janet, Rosewallb, Juliet. & Murray B. Simmonds. Childhood obesity stigma: Association with television, videogame, and magazine exposure. Body Image, 2007,4 (2), 147-155. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2007.03.002.
- Olstad, Dana and McCargar, Linda. Prevention of overweight and obesity in children under the age of 6 years. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 2009, 34(4), 551-570. Doi: 10.1139/H09-016.
- Rao, Goutham. Child obesity: a parent’s guide to a fit, trim, and happy child. London: Prometheus Books, 2006
- Rhee, Kyung. Childhood Overweight and the Relationship between Parent Behaviors, Parenting Style, and Family Functioning. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2008, 615(1), 11-37. DOI: 10.1177/0002716207308400
Health is a fundamental element in our day to day living. Poor health is associated with many negative effects, for instance, lack of productivity and in the extreme cases, loss of lives through death. Although being healthy is considered to be a natural process, some efforts also need to be put in place by an individual or parents/ caregiver incase of a child so as to maintain health.
This could be through proper care, for instance, by observing hygienic standards and proper diet necessary to keep the body in a good condition at all times. Health is heavily dependent on nutrition among other factors. Obesity entails a condition where an individual has body weight that is much greater that what is healthy.
It is a medical condition where excess body fat accumulates in the body to an extent of causing other complications such as reduced life expectancy, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Obesity in children is on the increase making it to be termed as a public health issue. This piece of work will give an in depth discussion on the issue of child obesity after which some recommendations to curb the situation will be suggested.
Causes of Child Obesity
There are various causes of obesity. Food or nutrition is the leading cause of obesity in children as well as in adults in United States of America and other parts of the world. Changes in nutrition among people in the US have been a contributing factor towards the increase in health related issues for instance diabetes, obesity among others.
People have turned to the consumption of fast and processed food, which usually lack the adequate nutrients needed to keep a person fit and healthy. Children are also introduced into these poor diet at a very tender age an aspect that affects them adversely more especially because of their inability to fight diseases and other attacks due to their underdeveloped immunity system. This affects their development and even shortens their life expectancy (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Par 3).
Children – parent communication is also crucial in the growth and development of a child. The parenting style has great influence on a child’s attitude towards obesity. The television, through advertisements, for example, influences a child’s attitude towards fast foods.
Just like in the case to adults, the media plays a great role in influencing behavior in children and presentation of processed and fast foods has great impact on the child where they consider them to be prestigious and hence the desire to consume them. This is an aspect that could only be corrected by parents through effective communication with the child, allowing for healthy lifestyle to be cultivated right from an early age (Fletcher, Grundy and Hayman 101).
According to Rhee (13), family behavior is closely linked to child obesity. Research reveals that a parent’s behavior towards a child has got very great influence when it comes to a child’s growth and development since during the early stages; the child is helpless and entirely depends on the parent or the caregiver.
A considerable number of children suffering from obesity are at the stage of preschool and early school years where the parent could only be the source of influence. Among the specific causes of child obesity that fall under this category is lack of involvement in physical activity due to the spending of time watching TV and playing with the computer, poor diet and consumption of fast food among others. These are things that parents ought to look into for a child to be healthy.
Christakis & Fowler (371) asserts that social ties also contribute to the spread of obesity among children. Surveys have shown that there is a tendency of children to develop obesity where either of the parents is obese or suffers from over-weight complications. Although it could not be genetic, the fact that a child develops within the presence of a very big sized parent may lead to an attitude of appreciating it and hence having the urge to emulate them. This is dangerous as it starts from the mind.
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Another parent related factor in relation to child obesity is that of lack of proper breastfeeding habits and the extensive consumption of processed beverages and foods.
Due to tight job schedules especially in the developed nations like the U. S, parents have little time to spend with their children and they do not give them a chance to enjoy breast milk, an aspect that is very crucial for child growth, development and immunity. To counteract this, the parents find themselves substituting breast milk with processed beverages which have an adverse effect on the health of the baby due to lack of the required nutrients for healthy growth (Blackburn and Kanders 54).
Risk Factors Associated With Child Obesity
There are various risks that go hand in hand with child obesity. Some of them include developing breathing problems, high chances of diabetes, sleeping difficulties, high blood pressure as well as an increased risk of developing heart diseases.
Emotional problems are also another feature that is brought about by obesity. They include low self esteem, withdrawal, anxiety, and depression among others. This shows the negative effects of obesity and hence a necessity to take proper preventive actions to avoid all these (Latnera, Rosewallb & Murray 147).
Treatment for Child Obesity
There are ways through which Child Obesity could be treated and prevented. Although treatment of obesity in children is a complex and complicated aspect, it is not impossible. There should be the development of effective ways of child obesity treatment to ensure that the child is not intimidated in any way and that the best possible results are achieved.
Child suffering from obesity needs a thorough and careful medical evaluation by a qualified pediatrician or even a family doctor. This is for the purpose of coming up with all the possibilities of a physical cause in order to come up with the best course of action. Motivation of the child is also crucial for the achievement of a lasting weight loss.
There should therefore be adoption of motivation technologies that are aimed at keeping the child on the move to improve the situation (Emedicinehealth par.4)
Early childhood development and care is a very crucial aspect in the determination of a child’s fate in regard to obesity. Proper care of the child should commence right during pregnancy to ensure that the child grows in a healthy manner.
Parental environment plays a great role in prevention and management of child obesity especially in regard to influencing a child’s attitude towards food and general lifestyle. For this reason, preventive measures should be taken by all mothers as early as possible to prevent complications that could develop later in life (Olstad & McCargar 561).
According to Kalavainen, Korppi & Nuutinen (1501), there should be diversity in the prevention and treatment strategies undertaken in regard to child obesity. Instead of routine individual treatment programs, group based treatment strategies should be adapted to avoid boredom.
Research carried out by these authors asserts that group therapy is one of the best and effective treatment strategies that should be utilized in the treatment of child obesity since it yields desirable results. This could be linked to the idea that the child does not feel deserted but rather appreciated and loved for whom he or she is. It raises the child’s self esteem and hence motivation to achieve the desired goals.
Interventions to Arrest the Situation
Various Intervention measures have been put into place. Child obesity being one of the leading health issues in the modern society raises dire need for strategic and proper intervention measures to be put in place in an effort to improve the situation and make the world a better place for child growth and development, which has in turn a great influence on the later life of an individual.
This is because the probability of maintaining good health from childhood all through to adolescence and later to adulthood and old age is much higher than that of having to deal with health complications at a tender age where chances of affecting the child’s future health conditions negatively are high. Many steps have been taken for instance presentation of fitness shows and change of menus in restaurants and learning institutions.
Despite these efforts, the rate of obesity is still high and hence the need for the government to take necessary steps to curb the problem. This can only be possible through the imposition of control measures upon the food industry where the foods produced should be health – sensitive irrespective of the cost incurred.
The government can impose sanction upon the food industries, influence the media and also take part in campaigns aimed at educating the public on the benefits associated with eating healthy as well as the drawbacks that go hand in hand with poor nutrition (Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public Accounts 113).
To manage child obesity, the following recommendations should be adhered to; Parents and caregivers should be informed on the importance of living a healthy life and eating well balanced meals so that they may take good care of their children right from the time they are born to avoid major complications that may arise later in life. This is because prevention is always better and easier than cure.
The government should take part in regulating the food industry. There should also be aggressive campaigns to do away with ignorance among the Americans since most of them are not conversant with nutrition and the foods they should avoid consuming. The campaigns should emphasize on the importance of eating healthy and the effects associated with poor nutrition.
Other general means through which child obesity could be managed include involving the child in weight management programs that will assist in reducing the weight in a healthy manner, making improvements in the eating habits for instance developing a routine and eating in small quantities and controlling portions while at the same time reducing the amount of calories (Rao 202).
Apart from food issue, parents and care givers should engage children in physical activities, for example, walking so that they may have a more active lifestyle to avoid accumulation of fats due to lack of proper utilization. Being conscious of what your child takes whenever he or she is not around home for instance while at school is also crucial. Food should also be treated as a necessity rather than a reward so that the child may grow knowing the importance of food.
Parents could also enhance the process of managing the weight of a child suffering from obesity by raising his or her self esteem. This could be easily achieved through concentrating and emphasizing the child’s strength, improvements and positive qualities instead of focusing on the weight issue, an aspect that could lead to self hatred and self blame which could affect the process of healing or rather managing weight negatively.
These are some of the measures in which both the parents and the child should participate in an effort to maintain or improve a child’s health and avoid complications (Latnera, Rosewallb & Murray 146). When carrying out these measures, it should not be done in isolation but rather as a family issue, for instance, the child should not be put on special diet from the rest of the family members to avoid the feeling of self hatred or blame.
It is evident that there has been an increase in health related problems particularly among the Americans, an aspect that has attracted a lot of attention among various responsible agencies as well as the government.
Child obesity has been received with a lot of concern since it was not common in the early days and various bodies are ready to do anything to help improve the situation and save the nation from the epidemic. There are various causes of child obesity and proper care should be taken by mothers as early as possible since most of the causes can be easily prevented as discussed above. Proper treatment should also be sought when the child obesity occurs.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. “Obesity in Children and Teens.” Aacap, 2008. Web.
Blackburn, George, and Kanders Stefannie. Obesity: pathophysiology, psychology, and treatment Beatrice. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 1994. Print.
Christakis, Nicholas, and Fowler James. The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2007.357, 370-379.
Emedicinehealth. “Obesity in Children.” Emedicinehealth, 2011. Web.
Fletcher, Gerald, Grundy, Scott, and Hayman Lucia Laura. Obesity: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999. Print.
Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public Accounts. Tackling Child Obesity – First Steps: Eighth Report of Session 2006-07, Report, Together With Formal Minutes, Oral And Written Evidence. New York: The Stationery Office, 2007. Print.
Kalavainen, MP, Korppi, MO. & Nuutinen, O M. Clinical efficacy of group-based treatment for childhood obesity compared with routinely given individual counseling. International Journal of Obesity, 2007, 31, 1500–1508. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803628.
Latnera, Janet, Rosewallb, Juliet, and Murray Simmonds. Childhood obesity stigma: Association with television, videogame, and magazine exposure. Body Image, 2007, 4 (2), 147-155. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2007.03.002.
Olstad, Dana, and McCargar Linda. Prevention of overweight and obesity in children under the age of 6 years. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 2009, 34(4), 551-570. Doi: 10.1139/H09-016.
Rao, Goutham. Child Obesity: A Parent’s Guide to A Fit, Trim, And Happy Child. London: Prometheus Books, 2006. Print.
Rhee, Kyung. Childhood Overweight and the Relationship between Parent Behaviors, Parenting Style, and Family Functioning. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2008, 615(1), 11-37. DOI: 10.1177/0002716207308400