The era of new century has opened new and wide horizons for technology and comfort for the mankind. Such technological gadgets are being continuously invented and introduced to the world which can make lives more comfortable and luxurious. New thoughts and ideas are coming with every passing second and what started as only a blurred vision; now became a necessity for all mankind. But apart from many of lavish advantages which technology has brought to us, there are as much of the side-effects as well, one of which is obesity or simply “being over-weight”. Now- a-days, people are more luxurious than ever; since advancement in technology has rendered them such an opportunity to avoid any physical work. Also, the rush of junk and fast foods into our society has made our people more vulnerable to health issues. The intake of a large number of calories, without properly utilizing them is the only root cause of obesity. Children, as well as adults are also the victim of obesity and other diseases which are caused by gaining over weight.
Today, one out of five American children is obese (Science Daily, 2012). In the past thirty years, number of obese children has been tripled in US, which is threatening for physical health and development to an alarming rate. Amongst those belonging to their early childhood, rate of obesity increased from 5-10.4%. These children have their Body Mass Index BMI ratios up to 95th percentile, and are more exposed to health related issues in their adulthood. Poor eating habits, improper utilization of food, less physical activities, inappropriate knowledge of nutrition and unhealthy diet are some of the common causes of obesity in early childhood (Banghart 2012). This essay will focus on these aspects in detail, along with some of those early childhood programs that enable both parents and care takers to be aware of unhealthy food for their child and to develop healthy eating habits in them.
It is a common misconception amongst masses that obesity can only cause life threatening diseases into adults and aged people. Strokes, haemorrhage, diabetes and hypertension are some of those health problems that are related with obesity and people are advised to adapt a healthy life style to get rid of these disease. However, children who are simply overweight in their early childhood are five times more likely to become obese by the time they encounter adolescence, which can ultimately cause them not only health issues such as high risks of diabetes or hypertension, but also many other social and academic problems (Brock 2002, Swainson 2000). Obesity has now become one of child protection issues as the consequences are deeper and long lasting. In pre-schools for example, an obese child is likely to remain far behind in sports and physical activities than his/her class mates, and is likely to tease by others which directly affects the self esteem of that child. As a result, he/she may feel insecure and inferior and the chances are high that he/she becomes too much unsocial and acquire other behaviour problems. Thus apart of being at higher risk of having weight related diseases, obesity in early childhood is of high concern because of its adverse affects on child’s personality and development (Williams et al, 2005).
Although the problem is usually caused by lower levels of physical activities, genetics and unhealthy food provided by the parents; the problem is more likely to develop in children belonging to low-income, minority families that have poor social interactions and economical status. These families have low nutrition related information, unhealthy eating habits and behaviour problems such as frustration and depression, which cause over-weight problems and obesity in their children since early childhood. Children of such deprived families are more likely to have psychosocial problems when they are physically ill-looking; they are bullied and are forced to social exclusion from gatherings and activities; as a result they sit idle and gain more weight (Batch and Baur, 2005). Therefore, efforts are needed in order to eliminate these factors from the minority families, so that their children would become healthy and their physical appearance would not become a cause of social exclusion for them. Positive parenting is also advised in this regard, along with the intervention of other community and family members, so that children would see them as a role model and try to adapt those eating habits which would be beneficial for them in this regard.
Effective prevention through Community Intervention
Researches conducted on the prevention and treatment of early childhood obesity show that community based interventions can effectively reduce those environmental and social factors that are responsible for causing obesity in children, particularly during their early childhood. Since the target age group is 0-5 years, both educational communities and social communities can play their parts in achieving the target. The treatment is also of significant importance as the best results can be obtained in early childhood, along with lesser chances of any kind of physical or psycho-social treatment at some later stage. It is necessary that food intake patterns must be balanced and according to the requirement of particular age, and the marketed processed food must be avoided in this age-group. However, in early childhood, a child is solely dependent upon his/her care-taker or parents, so community related helps are usually provided to parents. This includes the assistance from professional nutritionists and diet-specialists, who provide healthy eating plans to parents according to the age group of their child. Media can also play a responsible part in this regard by reducing all such advertisements that are about high-fat, high-sugar food for children, which they find very catchy and demand their parents of them. Pre-schools can actively participate in saving our future generation from obesity by providing only that food that contains whole-grain and natural; and avoiding all those that have artificial sweeteners, such as soft drinks that contain a high volume of sucrose. These community based methods have proven successful results even for those children who were already overweight and have tendency to become obese (ACE 2006). But most importantly it’s the parental factor that can be most effective in reducing early childhood obesity from the country.
As the name indicates, positive attributes in parenting can bring revolutions in fighting with the problems of weight and obesity. No doubt the dawn of new century has brought many technological reformations, the machine maker has become machine himself. Yes indeed, humans who invented all these hi-tech gadgets present themselves as a working machine too, with very less emotions and feelings. It is an unfortunate fact that the parents of 21st century are not able to find time for their children as they are busy in earning and maintaining life. But the children suffer very much as their parents do not provide them their guidance in every mode of life. Particularly children with single parents suffer a lot in this regard. They are at their own since very early ages; so children tend towards easy and junk foods for the satisfaction of their hunger, and watch TV or play computer games without a proper timetable. Such children are usually deprived of any physical activities which is the main cause of obesity. Thus it is obligatory upon parents to make sure that their child is eating healthy and nutritious food and have some activity so as to consume it properly.
Parents and care takers must make healthy eating plans for their child as the child starts taking solid food. They must understand that eating everything is not something that will make their child healthy. Instead, it is the nutrition and the appropriate timings that will make a child healthy, wealthy and wise. It is also important that they divide the recreational timings into both watching TV and indulging into physical activities. By doing so, children would remain active and there will be no element of being lazy or idle. But upon all, parents or caretakers must become the models themselves. Research indicates that children best follow what they see in actual, not what they are taught. Hence parents start from their own selves. Drinking water instead of soft drinks or beverages, eating fruits in place of chocolates, cakes or pastries and playing with children instead of watching a movie can be most effective in reduction and prevention of early childhood obesity. Teaching the child about the energy levels of fruits, vegetables, natural dairy products and food that contains whole-grains could also develop interest of children in these foods, and they would like to eat them for being taller and bigger. The role of parent power cannot be neglected while developing early childhood educational programs upon obesity; as this is the key factor which can turn the tables (Anderson 2006, Banghart 2012, and Science Daily 2012).
ACE, (2006). ACE-Obesity. Assessing Cost-Effectiveness of obesity intervention in children and adolescents. Victorian Government Department of Human Services. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from:
Anderson, J. (2006). A Comprehensive Approach to addressing Childhood Obesity in Early childhood Programs. Child Care Exchange. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from:
Banghart, P. (March 2012). Comprehensive Obesity Prevention in Early Childhood: Promising Federal and State Initiatives, NCCP, Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from: < http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_1058.pdf>
Batch, J. A., & Baur, L. A. (January 01, 2005). Management and prevention of obesity and its complications in children and adolescents. The Medical Journal of Australia, 182, 3, 130-135.
Brock, B. (2002). Childhood Obesity is a growing problem. Special to the Acorn. Agoura Hills, CA: J. Bee Publications
Science Daily (February 6, 2012). Positive Parenting During Early Childhood May Prevent Obesity. Science News. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from:
Swainson, R. (August 2000). Facing the facts about childhood obesity. University of Georgia Cobb County Extension Service.
Williams, Joanne, Wake, Melissa, Hesketh, Kylie, Maher, Elise, & Waters, Elizabeth. (2005). Health-related quality of life of overweight and obese children. American Medical Association, 293, 1, 70-76