Everywhere I go I encounter children who are obese. Obesity is one of the most widespread nutritional complications today with 17 % of children being said to be obese (Jelalian and Steele 11). I think it is very important that we address this issue and explore avenues through which it can be curtailed because the future of our society is in jeopardy. What information is available on the causes, consequences and remedial measures of child obesity? If this information is available, why is child obesity on the rise?
Encounter with Child Obesity
Two weeks ago I was walking leisurely through a public park to get a bout of fresh air and stretch my legs after being indoors for several hours. My wandering eyes came to settle upon a bunch of overweight children seated on one of the benches eating all kinds of candy, ice cream and cakes. Ironically, there was another group of relatively leaner children running up and down and playing on the bouncing castle. That is how my curiosity was aroused and I decided to study a few authors to understand how they define obesity, establish its causes, examine its effects and find out how to overcome it. While I managed to get information on child obesity, I still do not understand why that information has not changed the situation.
Experts’ Opinion on Child Obesity
Rosemary Stanton is a nutritionist, prolific author and a television and radio speaker. Andrew Hills is an academician and author with expertise in issues of exercise. The two authors are concerned with issues relating to obesity and abnormal weight gain in children. This is an informative text with empirical data on body fat, dietary issues and recreational activities. The authors contrast current societal fixation with being slender and increasing abortion among children and adults. The book is also very pragmatic and calls upon parents to practice local approaches to help children overcome weight problems. For example, home prepared-food is portrayed as being nutritious and delicious and appropriate for curtailing weight gain. The forte of the text is in the ability of the authors to blend results of scientific research and practical and fun counsel on how to eat and exercise.
Jelalian, Elissa, and Ric G. Steele. Handbook of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity. New York: Springer, 2008. Print.
Dr Jelalian is a Human Behaviorist and a Psychiatrist. She is an accomplished researcher and published author in child psychology, nutrition and weight control among teenagers to mention but a few. Dr Steele is an expert in Psychology and behavioral sciences. She is a proficient clinical psychologist, an author and an editor with special interest in weight issues among children and adolescents. The author locates their text within the context of increasing cases of obesity among young people and the subsequent illnesses that afflict obese children. The book analyzes child obesity holistically and presents information that is easily-understood. It examines the mental strain that obesity puts on children and their families, the negative health implications and the strategies available for dealing with it from both a curative and also a preventative angle. The strength of this text is in the use of scientific and clinical knowledge that is tried and tested. The handbook also presents practical information on how obesity is impacted by social, cultural and economic conditions. It also pays special consideration to emerging issues in the area of pediatric obesity, eating habits, the use of technology in controlling weight, and strategies that can be applied within learning institutions, at home and in the society to curb child obesity.
This text utilizes a number of rhetorical devices. She uses ethos through presenting data from scientific studies and thus makes the text plausible. Similarly, the use of ethos is evidenced by the fact that the author is an accomplished writer and editor with vast experience in child psychology and pediatric obesity issue. The author also employs pathos when she describes the mental strain that obese children and their families undergo and thus creates the desire to take action to avert the crisis.
Kopelman, Peter, Ian D. Caterson, and William H. Dietz. 3rd ed. Clinical Obesity in Adults and Children. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing Co., 2010. Print.
This book examines recent research in matters of obesity and is meant to present a pragmatic approach to obesity. The authors blend scientific research and practice to come up with a text that can result in effective assessment, control and cure of not only obesity but also other complications that accompany obese cases. Moreover, this book recognizes that obesity is in some cases depends on one’s ethnicity thus giving the text a universal approach. The authors also take cognizance of the fact that even treatment and management approaches must respect ethnic backgrounds of patients. Unlike other texts, this one understands obesity from a multiplicity of angles including the society, gender, management and control and age. This is a resourceful text for healthcare practitioners, researchers and other persons involved in treatment and prevention of pediatric obesity.
This text employs logos since the authors are researchers who use empirical data to evolve a pragmatic strategy towards child obesity. They also utilize ethos because they are recognized persons in the field of obesity and can therefore be believed. Finally, the authors also employ pathos especially in the way they describe the impact of obesity on different ethnic groups and also their description of the treatment approaches.
Analysis of the Books
Definition of Obesity
Stanton and Hills (10) understand obesity as a surplus of body fat. Body fat is measured through Body Mass Index (BMI). To calculate BMI, the square of body mass (in kilograms) is divided by one’s height (in inches). Those with a BMI of 17-24 have a normal weight while overweight persons range between 25 and 29. Anybody with a BMI above 30 is said to be obese.
Causes of Child Obesity
Obesity may be caused by genetic factors (Stanton and Hills 22). This means that some people are predisposed to obesity by virtue of their heredity and could explain why some children may be physically active, eat well but still become obese. Children may also become obese because they do not engage in adequate physical activity. This is can be understood in light of the encounter I had with the young children at the park and the fact that most of their movement is motorized. Moreover, they spend most of their time at home watching television and playing video games - activities that require little physical activity. Diet is another major contributor to obesity especially because most children do not eat fresh and natural food. Rather, most of us feed our children junk food like fries, hamburgers, flesh diets and sugary, fatty or salty food. In essence, children accumulate a lot of calories which are eventually stored in the body as fats. Hormonal imbalance can also cause obesity in some people in rare cases. Kopelman, Caterson, and Dietz (50) argue that social environment can also contribute to child obesity especially in cases where the society places a lot of value on being plump. They also posit that certain ethnic groups are predisposed to obesity owing to their genetic make-up.
Consequences of Child Obesity
Having looked at possible causes of obesity I went on and examined the consequences. Jelalian and Steele (11) posit that child obesity has a number of proven negative consequences. These include cardiac complications, hypertension, diabetes, problems with breathing and orthopedic difficulties. In addition, obese children stand a high chance of becoming obese adults and consequently at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, some forms of cancer, heart diseases and hypertension. Moreover, household and national expenditure on healthcare will increase at the expense of other developments as we treat complications related to obesity.
Dealing with Child Obesity
During my study, I realized that child obesity is a complex issue with no clear-cut solutions considering that hormonal imbalance and heredity are factors beyond our control. One can therefore only propose measures to be taken. For example, it would help if children are involved in physical activity whether in school, at home or even outdoors (Stanton and Hills 134). Parents, guardians and schools administrators should ensure that children eat a balanced diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables. The young ones should also avoid fast food and processed products because the latter contain artificial sugars, saturated fats and chemicals that create a fecund ground for obesity (Stanton and Hills 92). The populace should also be sensitized on healthy living especially in relation to diet and exercise.
This study has informed me profoundly on various aspects of child obesity especially the causes, implications and possible solutions. However, since child obesity is largely a lifestyle and genetic problem, there appears to be no definite solution to it. Moreover I was left wondering why childhood obesity continues to be a serious threat to our children yet all this information is available in books and the internet. Is it possible that we are too lazy to read? Are people aware of this information but deliberately choosing to ignore it? Perhaps this is what I should study in future.
Jelalian, Elissa, and Ric G. Steele. Handbook of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity. New York:
Springer, 2008. Print.
Kopelman, Peter, Ian D. Caterson, and William H. Dietz. 3rd ed. Clinical Obesity in Adults
and Children. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing Co., 2010. Print.
Stanton, Rosemary, and Andrew P. Hills. A Matter of Fat: Understanding and Overcoming
Obesity in Kids. Christchurch: Hazard Press, 2004. Print.