Today, childhood obesity is the greatest and most concerned health challenge. This issue is increasing at an alarming rate that has made it a widely debated issue. Since 1980, the childhood obesity has tripled. This issue has internationally affected most children particularly of middle income and low income countries. Besides this, the problem is more commonly found in urban settings where children seem to be less active than those in rural areas. According to 2010 estimates by World Health Organization, the children who are obese and under five years of age is expected to be more than 42 million internationally, where approximately 35 million belong to the developing countries. In addition to this, one in every five children in United States is obese or overweight, where this number is increasing (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control). Children usually have less weight-related medical and health issues than adults. However it is argued that the children who are obese or overweight have high risk that they will become overweight adults and adolescents that places them with high risk to develop chronic diseases i.e., diabetes, gall bladder and liver issues, disordered sleep patterns, restlessness, high blood pressure, joints and bones problem, high cholesterol, musculoskeletal disorders, asthma, certain types of cancer and heart disease. Moreover, they could also develop sadness, low self-esteem and stress.
For some people obesity in children is not an illness, but it is due to inactive lifestyle. For instance, as compared to life style of 50 years ago, today children spend more time on watching television, sitting in front of computer, playing video games and paying less attention on exercises. Besides this, obesity or overweight does not encompass any characteristic symptoms or signs that usually diseases have. However, the only sign or characteristic of obesity is having excess fat in the body. Moreover, obesity also does not have any symptom. A child is that is overweight but physically active and takes healthy and well balanced diet, then they could not be said as obese. Neither their diet will contribute to health risks (Paxon 165).
Some people states that obesity have constructive health benefits i.e., it helps to increase bone mass that reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis in later life. Similarly, people does not view obesity as any impair that affects the normal functioning of a child that other diseases do. Most people with the obesity are not physically impaired; rather they tend to live more better and normal lives. It is more commonly acknowledged that some diseases shortens the life if it is developed at an early stage, however some people are observed to have long lives without developing any diseases that are usually associated with overweight or obesity i.e., cardiovascular disease or diabetes ((Paxon 86). Therefore the view that childhood obesity contributes to health issues and shortened life expectancy is not correct.
The body weight or obesity could never be said as the reliable indicator that defines future health issues. It is largely said that developing diseases in later age is largely dependent on poor diet, in appropriate dietary decisions, less or no exercises, inactive lifestyle etc. Therefore, it is not necessary that any child that is obese during his or her childhood will develop chronic diseases. Another important belief is that both obesity and chronic diseases are genetics (Durr 151). They have no significant established relationship and therefore blaming child obesity as a reason for chronic diseases at later life is not valid.
Children must be given balanced and healthy diet that provides them with adequate energy that is required by them to develop and grow. Therefore children typically need to consume more energy that is needed for the formation of new tissues. However, in case if the children consume too much energy than that is needed, it is stored in the body as fat that results in excess weight. Thus obesity refers to developing more body fat. However, a child may be overweight from excess bone, extra muscle and water. Thus, in simple words, obesity is defined as a condition when a child has greater than the normal weight that is required by her or his height and age (Medline Plus). This is calculated by BMI i.e., body mass index. If the BMI of a child is more than 85% of other children who are of their sex and age, then they are said to be at a risk to become obese. Moreover, if the BMI of a child is more than higher 95% of other children who are of their sex and age, they are said to be obese or overweight. A health practitioner uses Body Mass Index to find out the fat level in the body of a child. The amount of body fat stored in boys and girls during their childhood are different. If a child has high BMI measurement, then the heath care provider will further assess to find out whether extra fat is an issue. The assessments will include measurement of skin fold thickness and evaluations of physical activity, diet family history, other screening tests etc.
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Adolescent and School Health, 2014. Web 23 March 2014
Durr, O. Vaca. It's Not about Childhood Obesity: It Is about Being Healthy for Life. Inspiring Voices, 2012. Print
Medline Plus. Obesity in children, 2011. Web 23 March 2014
Paxon, Christina. Childhood Obesity: The Future Of Children. Brookings Institution Press, 2006. Print