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Causes of Childhood Obesity Essay

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Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition not only in America but also in other countries. It can lead to many medical issues that will follow a child into adulthood. Obesity is on the rise among American children of all ages, gender, and ethnic background; some of the causes for this in our young Americans are a decrease in physical activity, an increase in high fat and sugary foods, and genetic factors. Although most causes for childhood obesity can be easily redirected with a few lifestyle changes, some unfortunately are non-avoidable. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the U.

S. Today the country has some of the highest obesity rates in the world. One out of six children is obese, and one out of three children is overweight or obese. (Ogden CL) Though the overall U. S. child obesity rate has held steady since 2008, some groups have continued to see increases, and some groups have higher rates of obesity than others do: •In the 1970s, 5 percent of U. S. children ages 2 to 19 were obese, according to the CDC’s current definition; by 2008, nearly 17 percent of children were obese, a percentage that held steady through 2010. Ogden CL) •Obesity is more common in boys than girls (19 percent versus 15 percent) (Ogden CL). •Obesity rates in boys increased significantly between 1999 and 2010, especially among non-Hispanic black boys; but obesity rates in girls of all ages and ethnic groups have stayed largely the same. (Ogden CL) •Hispanic (21 percent) and non-Hispanic black (24 percent) youth have higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic white youth (14 percent), a continuing trend. (Ogden CL)

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•Almost 10 percent of U. S. infants had a high “weight for recumbent length”—a measure that is similar to the body mass index but used in children from birth to age 2. Ogden CL) •From 1999 to 2010, Mexican American infants were 67 percent more likely to have a high weight for recumbent length than non-Hispanic white infants were. (Ogden CL) This leads me to believe that with this kind of increase in obesity in our young children, it is looking like a disaster waiting to happen. If something does not happen to resolve this problem soon, the world will be in serious trouble. Our children and our children’s children will become fatter and lazier as the years pass by.

A growing number of health care experts have called the childhood obesity epidemic a disaster in the making for the nation’s economy and health care system. However, when that looming crises combines with two other major developments–the retirement of the baby boom generation and the fiscal woes of both Medicare and Social Security system–it has all the makings of a perfect storm: a massive collision of rampaging fronts with the power to cause staggering damage (Larimore, Flynt and Halliday, 12-13). An increase in high fat and sugary foods is also a big factor in the growing numbers of obesity in our children.

Instead of a nice healthy dinner prepared at home, busy families are resorting to fast food restaurants because it is less time consuming and easier to deal with. Almost one-third of American kids aged four to nineteen will eat today at a fast-food place, a fivefold increase since 1970. On average, they will eat 187 more calories per day than those who refrain from fast food, and they will ingest more fats, sugars, and carbohydrates (Larimore, Flynt, and Halliday, 30). The increase of sugar intake has also become a problem when it comes to childhood obesity.

One of the more famous sugary consumptions is soft drinks. Particularly carbonated soft drinks may be a key contributor to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, by virtue of these beverages’ high-added sugar content, low satiety, and incomplete compensation for total energy (Malik MS, Schulse MB, and Hu FB, 274-288). Children need to be giving less carbonated and sugary drinks, and given healthier drinks like water and all natural juices. It is sad to see a child pick an orange soda over orange juice when only a few decades ago they did not even know what an orange soda was.

American children have also had a decrease in physical activity over the years. This is in obvious cause for are children becoming obese. A big aspect of this is an increase in television watching and video game playing. These days a child will choose staying in side playing games or watching television before he or she will choose to do any outdoors activities. A 2000 survey showed that the average American child spends about twenty-five hours a week in front of a television while preschool aged children are spending about twenty-eight hours.

That is roughly 25,000 hours of television time before they hit eighteen years of age (Larimore, Flynt, and Halliday, 94-95). Some researches state that television watching and game playing is not a cause to childhood obesity while others have more than proved that too much can definitely cause obesity in are young Americans. Obviously, it is better for a child to be outdoors and active then indoors on their butts, in front of a television screen, stuffing their faces full of high fat and sugary foods.

Unfortunately another cause for childhood obesity in are young Americans children is that they are being confined to their homes more due to unsafe neighborhoods. Parents are afraid to let their children go outside when they are working or not at home. This can cause a child to get bored and either watch television and plays video games or eat. When a Childs physical activity is limited to twice a week because a parent does not feel it is safe for them to be outside when they are not home, of course they will begin to gain weight. Children should have at least one hour of outside time a day.

If a neighborhood is so unsafe where your child is unable to go outside to get the exercise they need, the parent should consider moving or enrolling their child in a sport, after school care, or a boys and girls club. This way they will receive the exercise they so badly need while the parents are at work. Genetic factors can play a big role in a child being or becoming obese but this is only in specific cases when a parent passes it to a child. One of these rare genetic disorders is called Prader-Willi Syndrome (Zieve and Eltz).

This is a congenital (present from birth) disease. It affects many parts of the body (Prader-Willi Syndrome, U. S. N. L. M ). People with this condition are obese, have reduced muscle tone and mental ability, and have sex glands that produce little or no hormones. A gene missing on part of chromosome 15 causes Prader-Willi syndrome. Normally, your parents each pass down a copy of this chromosome (Prader-Willi Syndrome, U. S. N. L. M. ). Most patients with Prader-Willi syndrome are missing the genetic material on part of the father’s chromosome.

The rest of patients with this condition often have two copies of the mother’s chromosome 15. The genetic changes are random and most families have no history of the condition ( Zieve and Eltz). Meaning that is very uncommon for a child to get this genetic factor from their parents but it still can happen. Family life styles and traditions play a much larger role in the problem of obesity than hereditary (Larimore, Flynt, and Halliday, 36). Other ways that a child can become obese because of their parents is not so much a genetic factor. Children watch and learn from their parents.

As they become older, they will start sounding, acting, and doing things that they see their parents do. A parent’s bad habits and poor lifestyle will definitely reflect on their children. In other words, over weight couch potatoes are, with rare exceptions, raised not born (Larimore, Flynt, and Halliday, 36). There is no doubt that childhood obesity is on the rise in this country and others because of the unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and sometimes-parental factors which has become all too common. Some of the solutions for dealing with childhood obesity are very easy to manage.

Try limiting fast food to once a week and increasing healthy food intake like fruits and vegetables’. The less fatty, sugary, processed food your child eats, the less chance they are on putting on the excess weight. In addition, try limiting your children’s time in front of a television and having them spend more time playing outdoors. The more exercise they get the healthier they will be. Be sure to take your child to a safe park or enroll them in sports or other after school activities if your neighborhood is too unsafe for your child to play at without your supervision.

As for parents, try to become an “Agent of Change. ” If you practice, a healthier lifestyle and eating pattern your children are sure to follow your example (Parents as the Main Agent of Change in Childhood Obesity). If the whole family can work together to improve bad habits such as eating patterns, exercise and lifestyle choices, which are the leading causes of obesity in are young Americans, your child will have less of a chance of facing childhood obesity.

Work Cited

Board, A. D. A. M. Editorial. Prader-Willi Syndrome. Ncbi. nlm. nih. gov. U. S. National Library of Medicine, 01 May 2011. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. ;http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002572/;. David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz . Contributing Factors of Childhood Obesity. Education. com. N. p. , n. d. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. ;http://www. education. com/reference/article/contributing-factors-obesity/;. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of Obesity and Trends in Body Mass Index Amoung US Children and Adolescents. JAMA (1999-2010): 2012; 307:483-490.

Web. 06 November 2012. Larimore, Walt, Sherri Flynt, and Steve Halliday. Super Sized Kids. Boston: Center Street, 2005. Print. 04 November 2012. Malik, MS. Schulze, MB. Carrol, MD. Hu, FB. Intake of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight gain. The American Journal of Clinical Nutritions. 84. 2 (2006): 274-278. Web. 08 November 2012. UPDATE: Parents as the Main Agent of Change in Childhood Obesity. Gurze Books, Nov. 2005. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. ;http://www. eatingdisordersreview. com/nl/nl_edr_16_6_2. html;.

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