One of the problems in America is child obesity, wherein more children from low-income families have greater tendency to become victims (Saelens, Sallis, Couch, Cain, and Glanz 57). United States faces a childhood obesity epidemic which has been perceived to be a problem that continues to get worse. The changes on the way the children live, go to school and what they eat during snacks and meals, play as significant factors of childhood obesity. Obesity rates of children from low-income families are relatively high compared to children from middle-class families (Muth 68). Genetic, social, economic factors are the prevalent indicators of childhood obesity.
Another cause of child obesity in the U.S. is due to food abundance in the country. America is one of the industrialized countries in the world which is able to provide its citizens with the prospect of eating food for pleasure. Today’s children may well become the first generation of life expectancy will be shorter compared to their parents (Hamid 1). The overconsumption of food had become the main cause increasing the American waistline. Abundance in food sources does not equate to acceleration of food intake. Child obesity is a major health problem not just in America, but of the world. The rising theory of the continuously growing rate of obese American children is the outcome of various socioeconomic and technological factors for the past century (Hamid 4).
Another factor causing childhood obesity is the schools. These schools are one of the culprits since they serve unhealthy and junk foods in their cafeterias. In fact, the school administration earns substantial profit out of their contracts with food companies. This is advantageous for the schools since they are assured of additional income for their operations. Inside the schools in America, there are various vendor machines which contain overly sweet and snacks readily available for the students (Korthals 192). The lack of initiative on the part of the school cafeteria to serve fruits and vegetables to young students influences them to become unhealthy. Child obesity can also be attributed to the modern food industries that are known for processing foods with excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and fat for the last two decades. Fast food is accessible, cheap, and instant.
Another scientific finding which causes child obesity is the genes that were passed on to them by their parents. There is a higher probability that a child who is born out of obese parents, will also become obese when he or she reaches the adolescent age (Korthals 105). Due to busy schedules and the fast-pace life of parents, they depend on fast foods which they can easily purchase and bring home in time for dinner. However, junk food is the key player that advances obesity to a higher level. Many obese parents tend to influence their young children to eat junk foods that contain excessive amounts of salt and sugar.
Recent studies revealed that fast-food portion sizes have doubled in size. The serving portion of an average salty snack had increased by at least 93 calories. On the other hand, regular hamburgers had increased 97 by calories. Other common fast food snacks such as French fries had increased by at least 68 calories, while Mexican food ballooned to at least 133 calories (Korthals 176). One of the more popular fast food chains is McDonalds. The serving size in McDonald’s of its regular French fries showed a significant increase since it was only 200 calories during the 1960s, compared to the present 610 calories for each of the serving (Korthals 103). The American Public Health Association has called the attention of major food industries to lower the levels of the hidden sodium content which are present in foods and snacks for the next decade based on the soaring salt content.
The best solution to overcome child obesity is by educating the parents to influence their children to eat the right kinds of food such as fruits and vegetables. Introducing the children to vegetarian diet by removing excessive meat servings from the weekly menu will help reduce obesity and health problems. Children who start to become semi-vegetarian at an early age will improve their health as they get older. Shifting to the vegetarian diet is recommended for young children due to its numerous benefits. Children will decrease the risk of acquiring life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases due to low cholesterol and triglycerides. By allowing the children to eat a balanced diet composed of vegetables, fruits, fish and tofu will decrease their cravings for junk foods. Vegetables and fruits are is rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium, protein, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, copper and selenium that fight cancer and heart diseases. Aside from being economical, eating healthy foods will prolong the life expectancy of children.
Stress in one of the major causes of obesity. Children who are under a lot of stress and anxiety have the tendency to eat more than what their bodies can handle. Stress is considered as a psychological foundation instead of a clinical source. Experts identified that stress discharges a molecule known as “neuropeptide”, which has the tendency to increase the size and number of fat cells in the body (Mukherjee 141). Once a large amount of neuropeptide is released by the brain, the food intake of a person is accelerated and the physical activity is reduced. This is the simple illustration of stress, which has been regarded as the result of psychosocial influence. Stress among can lead to obesity. Hence, the best solution to combat stress among children is to see to it that they engage physical activities such as sports and outdoor activities. Physical activity among children can be done inside playgrounds as it becomes a form of exercise to avoid obesity. Monitoring the effective burning of calories and influencing them to enjoyable physical activities is a way to increase metabolism of the body. This is recommendable instead of letting them spend time watching television, playing video games and internet surfing. These are simple ways to promote health and wellness among children as they spend their free time at home and while they are in school.
The effects of childhood obesity go beyond aesthetics (Muth 69). Obesity in children bears a negative effect on various organs of their bodies, causing complications such as asthma, sleep apnea, liver dysfunctions, gallstones, born fractures and infertility for the girls. Aside from these medical complications, many young children who are obese develop type 2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, high blood pressure and impaired fasting glucose (Muth 70).
There are also social and emotional consequences of obesity. Being obese as a young child is a hard situation even for the most resilient and motivated child. Aside from having to deal with various health problems due to the excess weight, obese children have a greater tendency of being teased, bullied and become socially isolated compared to other children whose weight are normal (Muth 70).
Child obesity is not a disease but an outcome of three major factors: over-eating, lack of exercise and personal behavior. It is a result of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure (Muth 70). It is imperative that intervention must be done as soon as possible. The job of the parents is to monitor the food intake of their children to see to it that there is do not overeat and avoid gaining weight. Parents should be more responsible with their children’s food choices to ensure that they metabolism is working effectively to burn the calories. The psychosocial effect of the child’s metabolism is a result of his attitudes, behavior and perceptions. The choice of lifestyle shall determine the child’s physical and mental well-being. Children should be allowed to play and engage in sports while they are still young to avoid passive-sedentary lifestyle, which may cause the tendency of becoming obese. Child obesity can be prevented with the help of the parents. Eating a balanced diet, engaging in healthy and fun activities, avoiding sweets and junk foods and getting enough sleep will are the ways to fight obesity in children. The hard work, patience and discipline of their parents will help the children maintain their desired weight as they become adolescents in the future.
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