Childhood obesity has become a serious and a major health problem. It is a condition characterized by excess fats in the body and it negatively affects a child’s overall well being and health. The diagnosis of obesity is based on body mass index (BMI). Cases of childhood obesity have been on the rise (Cdc.gov., 2016). It has necessitated the need to recognize obesity as a serious health problem and concern among the heath fraternity. However, in most areas, the term overweight is used instead of obesity as it is less stigmatizing. BMI is acceptable method for determining obesity in children who are of two years and above. It is determined by the ration of a child’s weight to height. The normal range of BMI in children may vary with the age and sex of the child. A BMI greater or equal to the nineteenth percentile is considered obesity (Stice, Shaw & Marti, 2006). On the other hand, a BMI above eightieth percentile is considered overweight.
Target Audience for the Program
The main target for the program includes parents, schools, community health workers, and the children. The United States Service Task Force stated that not all children with a high BMI index need to lose their weight. It is critical to differentiate between lean tissue and fats in children. As a result, healthcare practitioners have to determine differentiate between these two conditions (Showell et al., 2013). Therefore, BMI must be used with caution as the method can only identify possible weight problems in children but does not always differentiate between lean tissue and fats. Moreover, BMI may mistakenly rule out children whom may have excess adipose tissue. It created the need to supplement the reliability of BMI technique with other methods of diagnosing obesity in children.
Effects of Obesity in Children Health
Obesity in children may result to serious complications. However, the seriousness of the complications may range from fewer complexes to more complexes depending on the level of the condition (King, 2013). Additionally, the effects may also be influenced by other factors, such as age and sex of the child. The initial problems to be witnessed in obese children are usually psychological or emotional. However, obesity in children may lead to life threatening conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and sleep problems. Other conditions that may result from obesity in children include early puberty, menarche, and liver diseases. It may also lead to eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia. Asthma and other respiratory complications may also be caused by obesity.
Children who are overweight are likely to grow to obese adults. Additionally, obesity during childhood increases the level or mortality rates during adulthood. Obese children often suffer from discrimination and teasing from their peers. Some receive harassments from their own families (King, 2013). Childhood obesity may also lead to depression as well as low self esteem in children. The long term effects of childhood obesity are usually felt during adulthood. For instance, children who are obese are likely to develop serious complications during their adulthood, which may affect their health grossly. They are at a high risk of health complications arising from cancer, stroke and diabetes.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
Understanding the causes of childhood obesity is an important step towards creating a prevention program capable of achieving optimal goals in the efforts towards reducing the prevalence or even preventing childhood obesity. It can be caused by a couple of factors that may be combined. The mixture of elements causing obesity in environment is referred to as obesogenic environment. The greatest risk factor associated with obesity in children is obesity arising from both parents. It is reflected in genetic and family environment. Parents who are obesogenic are likely to give birth to obese children. Obesity during childhood many also be attributed to other psychological factors as well as the body type of the child (Showell et al., 2013). Childhood obesity has also been found to be caused by interaction or natural selection, which favors children who possess high levels of parsimonious energy metabolism. Increase in the size of meals and increased use of technology in the manufacture of meals is also a major contributing factor to the problem of childhood obesity. People have decreased the level of their physical activities. In terms of technology, a number of studies have found that children who spend most of their time on electronic devices, such as computers are likely to become overweight or even obese.
According to Hoelscher et al., (2015), childhood obesity is a common phenomenon among children who emanate from the low income families, Hispanic communities, and from the African American families. Such families spend less time playing so as to stay active. Similarly, children from these families spend a great deal of their time engaging in activities geared towards increasing the total income of their families. Another contributing factor is parents who prefer to have their children stay indoors because they fear drug violence, gangs, as well as other dangers that might harm their children significantly. As a result, the children are not given an opportunity to exercise; hence, may end up developing serious obesity problems.
Data on Childhood Obesity
Approximately, 17%of the children in the United States aged between 6 to 17 years are obese (Cdc.gov., 2016). A study conducted by the American Obesity Association indicated that parents showed concerns concerning their health of their children. For instance, almost 30% of the parents were concerned with the weight of their children (Cdc.gov., 2016). Additionally, 35% of the parents were of the idea that their children in schools were not doing much to teach their children on how to avoid obesity and other weight related complications. 5% of these parents ranked childhood obesity as the greatest risk to their children (Hoelscher et al., 2015). Studies have also indicated that childhood obesity does not always lead to eating disorders later in their life. Study on childhood obesity has also indicated that 8% of the children who have been found to be overweight and aged between 10 to 15 years of age turned to be obese at the age of 25 years (Hoelscher et al., 2015). Additionally, 25% of the obese adults were overweight during their childhood. According to a number of studies, if overweight in children started before 8 years of age, adult obesity is likely to be more severe (Cdc.gov., 2016).
Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs
Schools play a very crucial role in childhood obesity prevention by providing both a supportive and a safe environment with practices and policies that are able to support healthy behaviors in children. At home, parents can also help their children from becoming overweight by changing the way their children exercise and eat (King, 2013). Parents have to live by example to help their children foster good eating habits as well exercising. Interventions that seek to prevent obesity in children focus on modification of diets, improving the physical activities or modifying sedentary activities. Such interventions significantly depend on the specific setting.
Such interventions largely focus on schools; although they might involve the community or the parents to some extent. Additionally, the school based programs may also be connected with home based activities, such as homework. School based intervention programs include fostering healthy diets in schools. For instance, the kind of meals offered in schools must be selected well to ensure that the health of the school children is fostered and improved. Programs that educate the school children of selectively choosing the kind of meals to take are an important step towards improving the health of children. Changes made in the school environment have a significant effect on the health of the school children. For instance, some foods offered in schools such as calorie rich foods and drinks may have significant effect in the health of the children (Sallis et al., 2014). Consuming sugar –laden soft drinks may have significant effects on childhood obesity. Reducing these kinds of drinks in schools may have contributed largely to reducing the effect of obesity in the school children. Schools should ensure that calorie dense snacks are not easily available in the school locations. Vending machines should be reduced significantly in the school setting. It is will deny children the chance of having to access these food locations easily. The availability of junk foods in schools should also be decreased significantly.
Apart from diets, school programs should also target on physical activates. Physical inactivity of children has also proved to be serious cause of obesity in children. Children who fail to engage in physical activates are at a higher risk of developing obesity. Physical inactivity in children may lead to physically inactive in adults. Technological activities in schools may lead to increases in childhood obesity (Sallis et al., 2014). For instance, schools should regulate the time spend by children on computers and other technology related learning materials. School children should be engaged on activities which boost their physical activities such as being forced to take notes by writing instead of depending wholly on computers to take their notes.
Home Based Interventions Programs
They are the activities take place in children’s’ homes. The home environment created by parents may have significant influence the health of children in the country. The children’s food choices are influenced significantly by the family meals. Fostering good habits among children is instrumental in improving the overall well being of children. The family habits may focus on the kind of meals taken by their children. Parents should make good choices when selecting the kind of meals to be taken by their children. Additionally, the parents should help their families undertake physical activities (Beets et al., 2003). They should guide their children on the physical activities, which help their families to foster healthy bodies. For instance, parents should encourage their children to walk to schools, bike riding activities, and undertaking home based physical activities. Parents can also refer their children to behavioral therapists, nurses, and doctors who can help such children adjust their eating habits and their physical activities (Stice, Shaw & Marti, 2006). Parents may also visit community health workers and engage them in group education sessions, which may enable them to develop skills that can be very instrumental in improving the physical activity and nutrition behaviors of their children.
Community Based Programs
They are interventions that focus on community setting that may influence the health of the children significantly. Such programs entail activities like working with recreation centers to increase the active participation of children and working with the local restaurant to regulate the types of meals given to the children. Community based obesity prevention programs should recruit educators who educate the parents in the community on the importance of fostering good health on their children (Bleich et al., 2013). Health care providers in the community may also be in the front line in offering training sessions on the community on methods of preventing childhood obesity. Community health workers should provide patients with education, which may include best parenting practices and recipe planning .They should also help to link families to supplemental nutrition programs offices. Legal practices, such as developing laws that prevent schools from offering some types of meals to their students, especially the pre-schools, can be an important step in curbing the problem of childhood obesity.
Benefits of Incorporating Different Approaches
The benefits of incorporating different approaches to developing childhood obesity prevention emanate from the fact that childhood obesity can be attributed to a number of factors. Creating a program that incorporates different approaches is very helpful in dealing effectively with the problem of childhood obesity. For instance, Childhood obesity may be attributed to the interplay between the environmental and genetic factors. Polymorphisms in the various genes in families that control metabolism activities as well as appetite may be present in obese families (Beets et al., 2013). In the recent past, the family practices have changed significantly and some of them have increased the prevalence rates in childhood obesity. For instance, the number of mothers who breastfeed their children have decreased significantly. As a result, more infants are being reared by infant formula, which is a major factor in increasing the chances of growing obesity in children. Families have become economically empowered and; hence, rather than allowing their children to walk to schools, their parents drive them- to and from schools. Fewer children also engage in physical activities due to advancement in the types of technologies used in these families. For instance, these children spend a lot of time playing with videogames.
Decrease in family size forces parents to comply to the wants od their children. People have adopted varying social policies and practices that are either detrimental or beneficial to their children‘s health. Some of these factors include the quality of the school lunches offered, access to vending machines as well as other fast food restaurants, prevalence and the access to parks, sidewalks and bike paths (Stice, Shaw & Marti, 2006). All these social factors affect the physical quality of their life. Advertising of unhealthy foods has also been described as a major factor of in increasing the prevalence of obesity in children. As a result, advertising of foods like candy, fast food products, and cereals have been illegalized in some nations, especially in the television channels that focus on children.
Childhood obesity has become serious health problem in many parts of the world. Approximately, 17% of the children in the United States aged between 6 to 17 years are obese. Childhood obesity is a condition characterized by excess fats in the body, which negatively affects a child’s overall wellbeing and health. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common method for diagnosing the condition of obesity in childhood. The effects of childhood obesity may also be influenced by factors like age and sex of the child. Understanding the causes of childhood obesity is an important step towards creating a prevention program capable of achieving optimal goals in the efforts towards reducing the prevalence or even preventing childhood obesity. Childhood obesity prevention programs include school based intervention programs, home based interventions programs, and community based programs. Creating a program that incorporates different approaches is very helpful in dealing effectively with the problem of childhood obesity.
Beets, M. W., Webster, C., Saunders, R., & Huberty, J. L. (2013). Translating policies into practice a framework to prevent childhood obesity in afterschool programs. Health Promotion Practice, 14(2), 228-237.
Bleich, S. N., Segal, J., Wu, Y., Wilson, R., & Wang, Y. (2013). Systematic review of community-based childhood obesity prevention studies. Pediatrics, peds-2013.
Cdc.gov. (2016). Childhood Obesity Facts | Child | Data | Obesity | DNPAO | CDC. Cdc.gov. Retrieved 24 April 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
Hoelscher, D. M., Butte, N. F., Barlow, S., Vandewater, E. A., Sharma, S. V., Huang, T., & Oluyomi, A. O. (2015). Incorporating primary and secondary prevention approaches to address childhood obesity prevention and treatment in a low-income, ethnically diverse population: study design and demographic data from the Texas Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (TX CORD) study. Childhood Obesity, 11(1), 71-91.
King, M. (2013, November). Development and design of a tri-state coordinated school health program to reduce childhood obesity: The heroes initiative. In 141st APHA Annual Meeting (November 2-November 6, 2013). APHA.
Sallis, J. F., Cutter, C. L., Lou, D., Spoon, C., Wilson, A. L., Ding, D., & Mignano, A. (2014). Active Living Research: creating and using evidence to support childhood obesity prevention. American journal of preventive medicine, 46(2), 195-207.
Showell, N. N., Fawole, O., Segal, J., Wilson, R. F., Cheskin, L. J., Bleich, S. N., & Wang, Y. (2013). A systematic review of home-based childhood obesity prevention studies. Pediatrics, 132(1), e193-e200.
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