In the current world, obesity is a real time problem. It is no longer an isolated issue that can be avoided. The number of people suffering from obesity has grown tremendously over the past twenty years. Of special importance is the case of obesity in children. Over the past thirty years, obesity has doubled in children and has quadrupled among adolescents thus making it a real life real time issue that has to be addressed. The question thus arises as to exactly what obesity is and what it entails. There is usually confusion between obesity and being overweight. Overweight refers to having excess body weight for a given height. This body weight can be because of fat, water, bone or a combination of these factors. Obesity, on the other hand, refers to exclusively having excess body fat. This excess body fat results primarily from caloric imbalance. Caloric imbalance refers to a situation where the rate of calorie uptake is much higher than that of calorie expenditure. This condition can, however, be attributed to conditions which are not limited to environmental, genetic and behavioral. This means that obesity especially in children has its causative factors and this being the case it can be prevented. The statistics are, however, startling with reference to childhood obesity. The total number of obese children has increased steadily from seven percent in the year 1980 to twelve percent in the year twenty twelve. These statistics refer to children between the ages of six and eleven years old. Obesity in children has diverse health effects that are harmful to the development of the children.
The following research examines obesity in children under the paradigms of the harmful effects of obesity in children. The research will delve deep into the matter employing a number of research techniques and an array of data analysis methods in order to effectively test the hypothesis.
Much research has been done with reference to obesity not only in children but also in the larger population. The previous research has been instrumental in shedding more light on obesity as a real world situation that needs to be tackled. One such research tackled the psychological effects of obesity on the affected members of society as well as their immediate community (Barbour, Scott, p.46). The results of this research were startling to say the least. This is because the findings of the research revealed that the obese members of society are very wanting as far as their self-esteem is concerned. These people look down upon themselves, and the mental weight of low self-esteem weighs down on their physical health as well as that of their immediate loved ones. The immediate community was found to harbor hostility for the obese members of society. This hostility was not directly shown verbally or through actions, but there is a mentality of hostile feelings towards the obese and the overweight members of the society. The larger society not only harbors hostility for the obese but also a sense of very little respect. The research also found out that main catalyst behind these feelings by the greater society was the assumption that obesity as a state was primarily caused by behavioral tendencies (Barbour, Scott, p.57). The majority of the population thought that the obese members of the society were the way they were by their very own choice. This assumption led to little if any sympathy for the obese members of society. Relating this research to the current research topic of childhood obesity reveals much information on the mental as well as the emotional state of the obese children. With society harboring the same feelings towards all of its obese members irrespective of their age, the effects on children can be much more profound and scoring than those on adults. This is because adults have an element of experience on their side. Throughout their lives, they have been exposed to opinions that are not approving of them and frankly, it is not a new thing. The effects on children are, however, very different. This is because the mental state of a child is greatly affected by the outside environment. This outside environment includes butt is not limited to the immediate society in the proximity of the child. Thus, a society harboring hostility towards the child because of the weight of that child can be very damaging to the child both psychologically and emotionally. The child may not be in the right frame of mind to deal with such emotions (Smith, Clinton, p.71). This can have adverse effects on the development of the child with reference to the self-esteem of the child as well as the general physical development of the child.
For this particular research on the effects of childhood obesity on the affected children, a number of research questions arise. One such question is as too hat exactly causes obesity in children. Can this obesity in children be associated to the habitual tendencies of their parents or is it merely a matter of genetics that is far beyond the grasp of any mere human being?
Another research question that arises because of this research is what are the exact effects of obesity on children? Are these effects positive or negative on the development and social stature of the children? In other words, is obesity a constructive aspect of these children’s life or is it detrimental to their development is it social or otherwise?
Another major question that is to be tackled by this research is that of the health effects of obesity on the associated children. How exactly does obesity in children affect the physical health of the children in question? Does it have harmful medical effects on children or is it constructive to the medical state of any given child? This question especially arises due to some perceptions by certain members of society who associate obesity and being overweight with prestige. According to these members of society, the weight of any given person is a reflection of their state especially with reference to their financial state. These members of society, therefore, embark on a fattening campaign perhaps in an attempt to prove to society that they are financially stable and well off for that matter (Wolin, Cathleen, p.61). The astounding thing about these members of society is that thus philosophy is not exclusive to the adult members of a given society. Children are also associated in this philosophy and, therefore, this leads to a scenario where we have entire families being overweight or obese starting right from the adults all the way down to the youngest children. This philosophy necessitated the question as to the exact effects of obesity on the associated children especially with reference to the medical effects.
Another question that arises is the social standing of obese children among their peers. Are these children accepted by their peers or are they ridiculed because of their state?
In order to carry out this research and come up with conclusions that are satisfactory and truthful a number of data collection methods as well as data analysis methods had to be employed. One data collection method that was employed in this particular research is the observation. The choice behind the preferred use of this data collection method is that it gives the researcher an opportunity to observe the research subjects in their natural environment (Haslam, David, p.31). This gives the researcher an opportunity to observe collect data on the research subjects without necessarily influencing the behavior of the research subjects. The researcher is, therefore, in a position to collect information that is free from outside interference that might affect the behavior of the research subjects and to that effect affect the nature of the data collected. The application of this data collection method involved observing the obese children in different environments such as at school as well as in other social places such as shopping malls and playgrounds. The behavior of the children, as well as the reaction of other children, to the obese children was a major point of emphasis during this data collection venture. There was also an attempt to compare the physical fitness levels of the obese children in comparison to other children who are not obese in order to establish whether obesity in children affected their physical state with reference to mobility and issues like endurance and breathing.
Interviews were also employed as a method of data collection during this research. The main reason behind the choice of interviews as a method of data collection is that it gives the researcher the opportunity to interact with the research subjects on a more personal level. As a result, the researcher is able to gather valuable information from the research subjects such as their emotional disposition with reference to a certain matter or a given question (Haslam, David, p.49). This method also enables the researcher and the research subjects to interact on a more emotional and intimate platform. As a result the researcher gets an opportunity to get a glimpse into the psychology of the research subjects and thus get a clearer picture of the relation between the research subjects and the question in play. This method of research involved interviews primarily with the obese children. The questions in the interview, however, had to be modified so that they could easily be perceived by the research subjects who were in these instance children. The questions ranged from general queries about their social standing with their peers as well as their families to deeper questions, for example, how their condition made them feel about themselves on a personal note. The parents and the immediate relatives of the obese children were also interviewee during this research. This was done in order to get information as to the feelings of the immediate family about the obese children (Haslam, David, p.54). This was also done in order to get information into exactly how obesity was affecting these children with reference to their physical health, as well as their mental well-being. The social standing of these children within their immediate families was also taken into consideration with the application of this data collection method.
Secondary information was also very useful with reference to this particular research. This secondary information includes medical records as well as media reports on obesity in children. The secondary sources were useful in terms of data collection because they give information that can be mapped into trends. They enable the gathering of information such as the exact number of obese children in a given location and the trends associated with obesity in children over certain duration of time. Medical reports also came in handy as sources of secondary data. This is because medical reports give information of a very specific nature in terms of the effects that obesity has on obese children. Medical records also give trends as to the exact types of medical conditions and complications that are associated with obesity in children and their frequency of occurrence.
The data gathered because of this research was very enlightening with reference to the effects of obesity on obese children. It was clearly established that children with obesity have a much lower social standing with their peers as well as their immediate families. These children are not held in equal regard to other children of the same age who are not obese. It was further established that the obese children are aware of their low social standing in society. This awareness affects the psychological state of mind of the obese children. This is because the children grow up thinking that they are lesser human beings than their peers who are not obese. As a result, obese children suffer from a constant state of depression and stress. This is because the greater society looks down upon them and this in turn makes them look down upon themselves. This explains why obese children are normally shy and in most cases timid. They grow up struggling with day-to-day social interaction with their peers and even become antisocial. Some even prefer to stay in solitude or seclusion.
The research also brought to light that hypertension is very common in obese children. The number of obese children suffering from cardiovascular complications is much higher than that of their age mates who are not obese. This is clearly a medical condition that can be traced back to obesity exclusively. As a result, hypertension is one of the leading causes of death among obese children. The younger the obese child, the higher the chances of a child developing a serious cardiovascular condition that is life threatening.
Conclusion and recommendations
It is clear that obesity in children has very negative effects on the children in question. These effects range from social to psychological and even to lethal physical effects. As a result, there is an urgent need to curb the rising cases of obesity in children. It is the responsibility of every parent to try their best and to ensure that their child does not suffer from obesity. With the parents, cooperating with health professionals on the matter, it is very possible that the rising cases of obesity in children can be curbed.
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