Childhood obesity is a contemporary problem of great relevance. Rates of the children diagnosed with this condition have increased considerably in the recent decades. Studies account that about 30% of children and adolescents in America are obese (Kiess 213). Obesity can easily be recognized; however, it cannot be treated easily. Nutritionists mainly associate obesity with unhealthy weight gain caused by aspects such as lack of exercise and poor eating habit. An abnormal weight gain trend indicates the likelihood of developing an obese condition. However, a child is not regarded obese until when he or she records a weight of at least 10% higher than the recommended standards. The condition mainly starts developing between the ages of five and six or in adolescence. The causal factors for the obesity are diverse; they include behavioral, genetic, cultural and biological aspects. The condition develops when one consumes more calories than the body burns up. Poor eating habit is mainly attributable to obesity in childhood.
Over-eating is a major cause of obesity of children. Nutritionists have staged strong debates on whether poor eating habit or lack of physical activity is the major cause of obesity. However, a controversial investigation has recently indicated that obese children engage in less physical activities because they are already overweight (Booth et al. 68). This indicates that poor eating habit such as over-eating discourages children from engaging in rigorous physical activities. In this sense, over-eating presents as a major factor associated with the increased rate of childhood obesity. Therefore, it becomes apparent considering the aspect of over-eating is essential when thinking of childhood obesity.
The Relevance of the Issue
Thinking of the issue obesity is of great relevance considering the high rates of obesity recorded in the recent years. The prevalence of childhood obesity is constantly increasing in both developed and developing countries. According to Kerri, Jennie, Jordan, Nader (120), “child obesity is alarming with an estimated one-third of American children being obese.” The problem is of great healthy and social concerns, which mean that the global fraternity is under threat. For example, Johnson, Morgan, Melayne, and Judith (173) argues that childhood obesity is associated with various social and psychological problems, which include reduced social and school performance, societal victimization, low self-esteem and neuropsychological complications among others. Clinically, obese children present complications such as increased depression, behavioral problems, disordered eating and anxiety (Booth et al. 79). Other social problems include rejections and isolations as parent and relatives of the victim shy from the state of their child. All these have detrimental effects to the children, their family and the society. In this context, the significance of thinking about this issue becomes apparent. Remaining ignorant to this problem is fatal. For example, studies assert that the obesity causes about 300, 000 deaths every year (Kiess 35). Furthermore, governments are obliged to invest heavily in the management of this disease. Johnson, Morgan, Melayne, and Judith (172) states that the annual cost to society for the obesity rate over $ 100 billion. This highlights the need of addressing the issue to counteract its effect and establish a healthy and happy society.
Furthermore, thinking of the issue of childhood obesity becomes necessary because obese children have high potential of growing to be obese adults. Researches highlight that an obese child has 80% chance of being an obese adult (Booth et al. 164). Obese children can hardly overcome the problem unless they are grilled to learn and make healthy choices. A recent study identifies that about 25% obese children grow to be obese adults (Kiess 156). These statistics implies much especially when thinking of the management of obesity. Consequently, it becomes clear that the war against obesity will remain unproductive if the society failed to focus on the childhood obesity. In essence, establishing strategic interventions for preventing childhood obesity would act as a primary action for reducing the overall cases for the obesity in the society. The idea of focusing on changing children’s eating habit becomes more logical when one considers the primary role of over-eating on the development of obesity.
History or Background Information on the Issue
According to Moreno, Iris and Wolfgang, obesity rates were considerably stable in most industrialized countries until the early 1980s. However, rate of obesity started peeking, going from 7% in 1984 to the prevalence of about 24% in the UK, in 2007 (238). The rates of obesity vary insignificantly with the gender; however, overweight is common in men. Obesity is presently presenting at a relatively earlier age, with its onset becoming common at the age of school.
In the earlier decades, obesity was identified as the problem of adults. The condition mainly became severe with advanced age. However, this trend has changed because obesity is presently common in children. Within the modern generation, the prevalence of obesity is considerably high and continues to increase at an alarming rate. Estimates conducted in the year 2010 indicated that, from global population, more than 42 million children were overweight. The highest annual increases in the childhood obesity since 1970 have been recorded in Europe and North America. Nevertheless, about 75 % of obese children live in low and middle-income states (Booth et al. 167). Some recent studies on the prevalence of the childhood obesity among the global community suggest that the rates may be flattening out. For example, the number of global obese cases among children dropped by 1% in the year 2011 (Moreno, Iris and Wolfgang 238). Besides, the prevalence of childhood obesity remains high.
Supporting Arguments & Counterarguments
Various scholars have explored the relationship between eating habits and the development of the obese condition. Some people argue that the obesity is essentially an eating disorder while other scholars have substantially discredited this perspective. Studies argue that junk food and over-eating from the early age is attributable to childhood obesity rather than reduced exercise due to the adoption of modern lifestyle (Booth et al. 163). Studies attributing the development of the obesity with eating habits argue that obese children present a tendency of consuming high calories. Tanja conducted a study to evaluate this hypothesis, coming up with the results that supported the argument. The study concluded that overweight and obese kids consumed comparatively high volumes of calories (Tanja 136). In this context, the argument that obesity result from overeating is rational because the amount consumed relate directly with one’s chances of becoming obese. A person gains excessive weight and becomes obese if the volume of calories is higher than the amount burnt by the body. A study by Wardle supports these sentiments by articulating, “The ability to consume large quantities of palatable foods, coupled with decreased subsequent satiety, may play a role in the greater weight gain found in binge-eating children” (55).
Further arguments in support of the effect of over-eating on the development of obese relate the situation with the habit of Binge eating. Numerous studies have implicated the binge-eating habit in obesity. Repetitive studies affirm that binge-eating rates are higher in obese people than in normal weight adults (Dawes 53). This habit is associated with diverse psychiatric disorders including depression, personality and anxiety disorders and pronounced family history of substance abuse. These conditions have the potential of making individuals lose control over their eating habits. In most cases, these conditions make the victims engage in unhealthy eating habits characterized with overconsumption, which predispose them to an obese state (Wardle 53).
Other informed arguments highlight that the over-eating habit that result from negative emotions has historically been accounted for in the etiology of obesity. According to Wardle (Booth at al. 52), emotional eating is highly prevalent among obese individuals. Clinically, nutritionists link emotional eating with other signs of emotional distress. According to Wardle, about half of the participants from a sample of obese people presented high scored of the habit of emotional eating. These individuals also appeared more depressed (Wardle 54).
Studies concur that samples of obese children present high rates of lifetime eating disorders such as binge eating and bulimia nervosa. Furthermore, clinically referred obese victims with childhood onset obesity have a comparatively higher prevalence of eating disorders than the general population. Other psychological traits related with disordered eating such as body dissatisfaction are common among samples of obese patients (Booth et al. 23). Tanja study asserts that obese kids are more susceptible to the over-eating habit than other children. The study indicated, “Overweight and obese kids were more susceptible than their normal-weight siblings to overeating when shown tasty snacks” (Tanja 103). The findings ascertain the apparent effect of the over-eating on the development of the obese condition.
On the other hand, reliable studies support the argument that the obesity is not purely attributable to poor eating habits such as over-eating. Arguments in support of this perspective highlight that binge eating is often uncommon except in some unique cases. Consequently, using aspects such as the binge eating habits, in identifying over-eating as the major cause of the obesity is not substantial. This group also argues that obese people present eating habits that are not highly restrictive. Furthermore, comparative evaluations of the epidemiology of the obesity in the eating disorders present little support of a straightforward relationship between the two (Dawes 53). In this context, the group criticizing the idea of the relationship of eating habit and obesity believe that obese people eat “normally” except in rare case of people with binge eating condition. Besides, this group acknowledges that obesity is linked with increased levels of subtle variations in appetite, reduced responsiveness to internal safety cues and an aggressive responsiveness to external food cues. These conditions have potential of conferring some individuals vulnerable to over-eating especially in settings where the food is palatable and easily accessible (Dawes 34).
Solutions or New Ways of Thinking about the Issue of Childhood Obesity
There exists no straightforward relationship between eating habit and development of an obese condition. This is because obesity is associated with other factors such as biological, genetically and cultural factors that are of great significance. Besides, the apparent effect of the over-eating in the development of the obesity is indisputable. Other factors may assume an important role in the development of obesity and some accounts associating over-eating with obesity might be challengeable. However, it is pragmatic to account that the strategic new way of thinking about the issue of obesity should acknowledge the primary role of over-eating in the development of the childhood obesity. Developing knowledge of the relationship between eating habits and obesity is necessary. Further studies should focus on quantifying and explaining how these two variables correlates.
Furthermore, preventive strategies for managing the challenge of obesity in the society should focus on the addressing the childhood obesity by emphasizing the need of adopting good eating habits. Initially, the society should acknowledge the threat that the obesity poses and the need of addressing the issue aggressively. Through addressing childhood obesity, the overall rates of the obesity cases can reduce drastically since this will act as an effective preventive strategy. Furthermore, in view that obesity is mainly a lifestyle disease, imposing a change in behavior at an early stage is an informed approach. Children can easily be manipulated than adults, which explain the potential of this strategy in addressing the issue of obesity. The rate of the obesity cases will reduce considerably if the society adopted a culture of nurturing children to be adults who are cautious about their eating habits. Parents or adults need to be good role models and encourage the young ones on need of eating healthy and engaging in exercises.
Booth, Michael L., et al. "The Epidemiology of Overweight and Obesity among Australian Children and Adolescents, 1995-97." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 25.2 (2001): 162-9. ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Dawes, Laura Louise. "Husky Dick and Chubby Jane: A Century of Childhood Obesity in the United States." Order No. 3414665 Harvard University, 2010. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Johnson, Eric, Morgan McInnes Melayne, and Judith A. Shinogle. "What Is The Economic Cost Of Overweight Children?" Eastern Economic Journal 32.1 (2006): 171-87. ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Kerri, Boutelle, Jennie Kuckertz, Jordan Carlson, Nader Amir. “A pilot study evaluating a one-session attention modification training to decrease overeating in obese children.” Appetite, 2014; Doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.01.075
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Moreno, Aznar L, Iris Pigeot, and Wolfgang Ahrens. Epidemiology of Obesity in Children and Adolescents: Prevalence and Etiology. New York: Springer, 2011. Print.
Tanja, Kral et al. “Caloric compensation and eating in the absence of hunger in 5- to 12-y-old weight-discordant siblings.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2012, doi: 10.3945/ ajcn.112.037952
Wardle, Jane. “Is Obesity an eating disorder?” The European Health Psychologist. September 2012. Vol.11, 52:55