Impact, prevention and control
On one hand, the advanced medical research seeks cure for fatal diseases like cancer and AIDS. On the other, there is a prominent aspect of health that is being neglected everyday globally- Nutrition. Sadly, it is not only the adults with a busy life but children too who have adopted an unhealthy diet. If the food habits of most American kids are studied, the consumption of processed, packaged, fried and fast foods shall surely surpass the intake of vegetables, wholegrain cereals and fruits. As a result, childhood obesity is broadening its expanse. This paper describes some crucial aspects of childhood obesity including its causes, impacts and preventive as well as curative measures. It also includes a case study of nutritional disorder in schoolchildren.
Childhood Obesity 3
The social networking sites like Facebook are infested with hilarious as well as sarcastic jokes on the relationship between obesity in America and fast food chains like McDonalds. To be honest, it is not completely untrue. Childhood obesity has reached alarming levels globally due to unhealthy lifestyle of children. Around 10% of the children across the world are obese (Bessesen, 2008). One of the primary factors behind this nutritional issue in kids is the disproportionate consumption of fast foods. This should be considered with gravity because of its drastic impact on health. The following paragraphs will illuminate certain aspects of childhood obesity:
- The short- and long-term impacts of obesity on children’s growth and development:
The short- term impacts include derogatory effects on the growing bone of children as well as their endocrine, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems (McLennan, 2004). Diabetes Mellitus is growing common in children these days due to their sedentary lifestyle and fatty diet. Aerated drinks, French Fries, burgers, pizza and chips have a lot of calories, unhealthy Trans-fats, bad cholesterol and salt. These lead to reflux disorders, palpitation and eventually a severely affected digestive system. One of the major short term impacts of obesity is its social repercussion. It is unfair but still in practice to socially demean obese kids which can lead to a change in mental attitude.
The long-term effects of obesity are a weakened immunity, discomfort in physical activity and eventually severe risks of cardiovascular complications (McLennan, 2004). Those who are obese in childhood are most likely to remain obese in adulthood. Worse is that this characteristic can easily be inherited by the children of obese adults. Hypertension, breathing difficulties and even an impaired psychosocial function in females result from childhood obesity (McLennan, 2004).
Childhood Obesity 4
A 13 years-old boy named X is suffering from obesity. He is in middle school and happens to be a mediocre student. Now, obesity has no direct relation to his academic performance. But, the student does face some difficulties in his life. Neither of his parents is obese but they do hail from a family of overweight people. So, it is partly the genetic built up of X that substantiates his obesity. But, the main factor is his overindulgence in processed and fried foods. He does not suffer from any cardiovascular or endocrine disorders but has a weaker immunity. Because of a heavy body, he walks slower and often maintains a bad posture while standing or sitting. He has started to feel pain in back as well as legs. And he is not energetic at all.
The teachers have tried to help X in the following ways:
- They have encouraged him to adopt healthy food habits by emphasising the significance of vegetables, fruits and healthy drinks in daily diet.
- They have also advised X to gradually start doing physical activities at home but never ask him to participate in outdoor activity, for his own comfort.
- They have at times requested the parents of X to guide and inspire him to do physical exercise, meditation and to focus better on studies for overall growth and development.
- Three ways to combat this nutrition issue that involve collaboration among school, family, and community
The main behavioural measures that can help combat childhood obesity are changes in the food preferences, food intake, and energy regulation in children (Birch & Fischer, 1998).
Childhood Obesity 5
And these changes definitely need a collective effort from school, family and community. According to Birch and Fischer (1998), most of the young children are predisposed to prefer foods with sugar or fats or both when they are hungry. The parents can try to substitute the high fat and high sugar diet with fibrous and nutritious fruits with natural sugar or healthy fats. Puddings made of cereals, milk, fruits and nuts can be served to children. Baked chips with a little seasoning can be substituted for fried chips.
When parents predominantly serve healthy foods to children, they shall gradually develop hunger for such foods. The energy-regulation is as crucial as food intake in determining a child’s health (or adult’s too). So, when a child is encouraged to play outdoor games with folks rather than being with a PlayStation, he/she naturally develops an active and healthy body over time. Family get together, picnics, sports and daily activities such as cycling can help fight obesity.
The community includes a wide range of people and organisations. It is strange that the Government is not raising awareness against the hazards of processed foods. The famous food chains which engross millions of customers daily across the globe- these are not serving healthy foods no matter what they claim. Vegetable and fruit salad bars and fruit juice stalls
Obesity might not sound lethal like cancer or AIDS but it has the potential to downgrade the quality of life gradually. Childhood obesity is even more unfortunate because the young age is meant for living and being active in every possible way. The proper growth and development of mind, body and personality gets stunted with obesity. Hence, this nutritional issue requires an analysis as well as controlling measures.
- Bessesen, D. H. (2008). Update on obesity. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 93 (6): 2027–34
- Birch, L.L & Fisher, J.O. (1998). Development of Eating Behaviors Among Children and Adolescents. Paediatrics Vol 101 Retrieved on 3 September 2013from http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/101/Supplement_2/539.full
- McLennan, J. (2004). Obesity in Children: Tackling a growing problem. Clinical Practice. The National Health and Medical Research Council