Obesity is a nutritional disease that results from accumulation of fats in the body to a level such that it becomes harmful to an individual. Modern lifestyle is the major cause of obesity. In adults and adolescents body mass index is used to measure obesity; it relates to both height and weight that one has at one particular point. Then there are agreed units of measure that define a healthy person, one who is underweight, and who is obese.
When children reach adolescent, their body goes through many changes some physical and others psychological. It is at this stage that children tend to eat a lot and they prefer the fatty foods such as potato fries, kebabs, pizzas among others. It even becomes worse if the adolescent is from a low income family because these foods constitute a big percentage of their daily meals.
Some have to feed on carbohydrates as their major meal which they take in large quantities because of their enlarged body size. These are adolescents who crave for things like ice creams and other junk foods which increase their body mass index.
This paper will look at the relationship between poverty and obesity, the major causes of obesity, and how obesity in adolescents can be reduced by increasing daily intakes of organic foods, fruits, and vegetables.
It will also look at some of the measures that the government needs to take in increasing intake of organic foods and how daily intake of fruits and vegetables can be promoted. It will conclude by looking at the importance of healthy eating not only to the adolescents but to everyone.
Poverty and Obesity
Poverty is one of the major world’s concerns especially when it comes to developing economies; it is an issue that many poor people encounter face to face and the price that they pay is unbelievably very high.
It is estimated that every year, a large number of children are admitted into schools while still encountering many challenges arising from poverty such as lack of proper food which the teachers are not able take care of as needs. Even so, the definite meaning of poverty has never been agreed upon.
Some scholars have defined poverty in terms of monetary ability while others have viewed poverty as the lack of capacity to meet the basic needs of life. The significance of poverty has attracted the attention of many governments and multinational corporations. These governments and organizations have always set targets for reducing poverty, particularly in ensuring that most children do not suffer out of poverty (Wolfendale, 2000).
A number of research findings have also indicated that the well being of every person is intricately linked to the functioning of the family in which he or she is being brought up in relation to socio-economic resources which are limited; these findings also indicate that the daily socio-economic challenges can negatively affect the health of both parents and children.
The negative effects as demonstrated in the parents, in turn, are reflected in the problems and challenges in the children’s own adjustments spanning various facets of social-emotional development. One of these negative effects is poor nutrition that often leads to obesity in children as they grow up (Wolfendale, 2000).
These families are not able to afford a balanced diet and the children eat only what is available; most of their diet is composed of large quantities of carbohydrates which leads to the accumulation of fats in the body thereby causing obesity.
Causes of Obesity
Poor nutrition leads to obesity which in turn causes illness or even death. According to American Medical Association (AMA), the increase in health related diseases and illnesses have been caused by the increase in obesity and overweight rates. Some of these diseases include: diabetes, cancer, insomnia, heart diseases, and cardicascular disease. An individual’s body weight can be measured using body mass index (BMI).
Research has found that, about 20% of adults suffer from obesity having a BMI of 30 or more. More than 30% are overweight with a BMI of 25 to 29.9. There is therefore a strong call for involvement to perk up diet and health in order to curb the illnesses associated with poor nutrition. Nutritionists have argued that, water, fruits, and vegetables can be used to counteract this problem (Sturm, 2005).
There are many factors that have been thought to have lead to obesity in adolescents. They include;
- Genetic and hormonal
- Family and nutrition
- Psychological and physiological factors.
Genetic and hormonal
These are factors that are as result of biological factors. Generally there are basis that accumulate mire fat than others. Research has shown that in families whose one or both parents are obese, there are high chances that children born in the family will be obese.
This cause is the hardest to control since the body seem to accumulate fats at a faster rate. What a parent can do in such a case is to act very cautious towards the foods that they give their children. The foods should contain as minimal fats as possible.
Family and nutrition
Fats accumulate in our bodies from the food that we eat; when children are not fed in the right way, they are likely to suffer from obesity as they grow. The kind of food and the lifestyle that a family adopts, the kind of foods that is consumed in the family will either have large fat contents or not. On the other hand if children are fed on junk foods, they are likely to develop obesity in their adolescent stage.
If parents do not engage their children in daily chores and avail food at all times, then the tendency is that the children will end up eating junk foods without “burning the fats taken, the resultant is obesity.
Bad eating habit is another factor that can lead to obesity. Socialization develops attributes to a person and children are affected more; the kind of environment that children are brought about in will influence the kind of lifestyle they will live in the future. If parents are careless of what they eat, then their children are likely to follow suit and suffer from obesity (Sturm, 2005).
Psychological and physiological factors
In a child’s development (especially when he reaches adolescent), he may develop a liking to certain categories of foods. He/she may be willing to take junk or sweet foods and this because his main meal. And because the family may not be in a position to provide better food to supplement the adolescent meal the adolescent becomes obese because of poor eating.
This is an irresponsible behavior that parents should cut out at the earliest time possible. This blame lies on the parent since he is mandated to ensure that has he teaches his children on the need to eat the right food. Eating healthily does not mean spending a lot of money on meals because there are some fruits and vegetables which are readily available and do not cost much.
Medics are of the opinion that human beings should eat heavily in the morning but at night they should reduce the potion of food. On the other hand they are of the opinion that at least half of the plate should be made of vegetables. This is what parents should teach their children as they grow.
Solutions to Obesity
Consumers’ choices are complex and multifaceted. If consumers were concerned only about getting food at the lowest possible price, alternative agriculture would have a hard time taking hold, because industrial-style farming produces food cheaply (Liebman, et al. 2001). Consumers require the source of food that will be of most benefits to their bodies.
Organic food is the only type of food that can satisfy a wide range of consumers need and reduce the rate at which adolescent become obese. However, the prices of these foods are relatively higher than processed and it’s upon the government to intervene in lowering the prices.
Like consumers, farmers not only produce for profit but also to get satisfaction out of their produce. They feel happy when their produce is highly demanded and this encourages them to produce more.
What the Government Should do to Ensure that Organic Foods are Available to Customers
The government has a duty to ensure that both the farmers and consumers are satisfied in the production and consumption of organic foods. This can be through increased subsidies, incentives, reduced taxes, efficient infrastructure, and marketing strategies. All these strategies are aimed at lowering prices in order to increase consumption.
Peterson (2010) observed that people preferred processed foods to organic foods because of their low prices. He found out that, there is a strong imbalance between government subsidies to processed foods and that of organic foods. He observes that, in United States, organic farmers received a sum of 825 million dollars in 2009. On the other hand, commodity crops farmers received an amazing 15.4 billion dollars.
If only these subsidies were reduced on commodity farmers (such as corn and soybeans) and increased on fruits and vegetables farmers, then the prices of fruits and vegetables would go down and become affordable to a bigger percentage of people. However, these findings have some shortcoming in that, it may take a long time before the government implements the strategy.
Just like Peterson, White (2010) recommended the government to increase their subsidies to organic food farmers in order to lower their prices to customers, thereby boasting healthy eating. She also noted that, by buying goods in large quantities, consumers would be able to save a lot of money.
However this is not an easy move because the government has to intervene again in the provision of storage facilities such as fridges in order to preserve these fruits. This might be an expensive strategy not only to the government but also to the small scale farmer who may not be able to produce foods in bulk due to lack of efficient technologies.
The size of land set aside for organic farming is very small compared to consumers’ needs. This has resulted in increased demand consequently raising the prices. A strategic move by the government would be to increase the size of land used for organic farming. This will ensure that, organic farmers enjoy economies of scale and offer their products at reduced costs.
For example, Sweden had promised to increase its farmland by 10% in the year 2000. However the government has to intervene in the provision of necessarily amenities required by farmers. This will ensure increased production resulting in reduced prices to consumers. Exports will also increase and the farmers might even be able to lower their produce further thereby encouraging their consumption.
This can be achieved through: Focusing on the undeveloped sectors such as the rural areas and assisting them to identify an action plan.
Through Provision of production inputs and incentives, trade and infrastructure for marketing that would help to boast the production and consumption of fruits and vegetables. And involving many stake holders in the production, quality control, processing and marketing of fruits and vegetables (National Institute of Health 2010)
Fruits and vegetables
Most government health agencies and departments such as World Health Organization (WHO) have been fighting with the growing problem of obesity and unhealthy eating. They have been advocating for a modification in the health program to include more fruits and vegetable.
Research has proved that, diets with a bigger portion of fruits and vegetables can lower or even prevent some illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases. Fruits and vegetables contain an implausible number of minerals and vitamins that are essential for our bodies (Johnson, et al 2003). Most of them contain a large portion of water essential for the skin for example watermelons which contains approximately 94 percent water.
Seeds contain fiber which assists the body in getting rid of waste substances and bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables come in different colors and contain different nutrients. It is advisable to take different varieties in order to obtain a wide range of benefits. Dark green vegetables such as spinach and cabbage are rich in carotenoids, vitamin E, and C that help in preventing heart diseases and cancer (WHO 2004).
Promotion Of Fruits and Vegetable Consumption
Cultural and socioeconomic differences between countries affect the promotion and intake of fruits and vegetables; nutritionists are advised to take this into account while promoting their intakes.
The promotion of fruits and vegetables has been an on going initiative in most of the developed nations such as United States, Australia, Britain and others although not much have been done in the developing nations. A wide range of programs and interventions that promotes the intake of fruits and vegetables in adults and children has been introduced by WHO (Johnson, et al 2003).
Out of all the studies that have been done, none has demonstrated a disadvantageous effect of the intrusions on the consumption of fruits and vegetables. However, the projects to promote fruit and vegetable intake should be based on scientific evidence for them to be successful.
They should be evaluated to ascertain what works best and what does not work. This helps in reducing the amount of money used that would other wise be wasted in doing things that do not work. Messages that are specific of country and culture have to be integrated into guidelines together with other diet messages (WHO 2004).
This challenge can be addressed by taking the following into consideration:
- Production and intake of fruits and vegetables
- Roles of fruits and vegetables production in income generation and creation of employment opportunities
- Focus on the undeveloped sectors such as the rural areas and assisting them to identify an action plan
- Provision of production inputs and incentives, trade and infrastructure for marketing that would help to boast the production and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Involving many stake holders in the production, quality control, processing and marketing of fruits and vegetables
- consumer awareness of the positive effects of increasing their daily intake of fruits and vegetable
- enhancing fruit and vegetable production through diversification
- understanding of consumers’ tastes and expectations
Importance of Healthy Eating
Wellness is achieved from healthy eating and through taking physical exercises. Wellness occurs in seven dimensions. Healthy eating is a preventative approach which, if adopted, can help in reducing illnesses and increasing wellness. Through taking fruits and vegetables, the skin becomes lighter which in turn improves the general appearance of an individual.
They give one a healthy skin that is free from pimples or lashes. Scientific research has found that, increased intake of organic foods and fruits and vegetables can help in reducing stress and boasting self-esteem. This ensures an improvement in the emotional aspects of an individual’s wellness.
Healthy eating helps one to participate more in social interaction and relationships because of the reduced rate of illness (Health Promotion 2010). The benefits achieved from healthy eating enable one to spread awareness to other members of the community thus encouraging socialization
Through increased production and consumption of fruits and vegetables, the earth and its resources are protected which ensures a healthy leaving. Global warming is reduced because people tend to concentrate more on the naturally growing food other than the processed ones. Intellectual awareness is the ability to improve ones intellectual capacity and creativity.
This can be through; taking workshops, reading inspirational materials, or taking up a hobby. With the increase in nutrition awareness, many people have found it interesting to read materials that contain details of healthy eating thus increasing their intellectual awareness. Others involve themselves in nutrition workshops where there get ideas from other people as well as insights on how to improve their health.
Occupational wellness involves making use of skills and talents in a career that is not only enjoyable but also rewarding. Healthy eating as a preventive approach has come along with exciting careers that are yet to be exploited. Individuals now have a wide variety of careers to choose from.
Spiritual wellness is increased by being curious and inquisitive, listening to the heart and following ones principles and allowing oneself the freedom of being unique (Health Promotion 2010). It is a personal decision to chose what to do in case one falls ill; some people may chose to take medicine, go to the hospital while others may chose to use the preventative approach of healthy eating.
Children experience poverty as the part of environment that interferes with there mental, spiritual, emotional and physical development. Moreover, the experience of children with regards to poverty is also through their hands, hearts and minds. For instance, when they begin a day without a nutritious meal the children’s emotional capacity and also their bodily growth are greatly hindered by poverty.
Children from low income families are not able to access a healthy meal which interferes their body functioning. They are likely to become obese as they grew up due to high intake of starchy food. Their bodies become weak and are likely to develop illnesses that result from unhealthy eating. Heath takes the form of psychological health, physical health and mental health.
Maintain a good health is one of the sole objectives of good governance. When a country is health then its productivity is more likely to be high than a sick country. Most of the diseases that people are suffering today are as a result of their eating habits.
Obesity is a disease which can be prevented and cured if proper eating habits are adopted by parents to their children. Food that children take should be examined to ensure that it has nutritional benefit to the child. Fatty food should be avoided. Prevention of obesity should take centre stage than curing it. The right and surest way that obesity can be cured is through eating healthily.
The kind of food eaten should be looked into to ensure that it is healthy. Healthy food contains adequate nutrients that one need for survival. Parents should go ahead and teach their children at tender age the need to eat health at all times. Daily intake of fruits and vegetables do not only give us a perfect skin but also helps in fighting illnesses.
Research has shown that, fruit and vegetable intake can help to cure obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Diets rich in vegetables and fruits contain less cholesterol as compared to those rich in carbohydrates or proteins. Obese and overweight people are advised to increase their daily intake of fruits and vegetables as this will help them to maintain an incredible figure.
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White, A. (2010). Why organic Food costs so much. Web.
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Wolfendale, S. (2000). Special needs in the early years: snapshots of practice. New York: Routledge.