Obesity in children is dangerous; it not only affects the children but also the parents and the society as a whole. It is assumed that a little more weight over the normal weight in children is harmless. This is a misconception which may lead to increased cases of obesity in children. We can notice nowadays that most of them are suffering in schools because of how they look, scared from others, feeling de-motivated and lesser than others. This may reduce their chances to fight and resist obesity. Obesity in children has other effects such as physical effect, Psychological/mental effects and others. The current lifestyles have contributed to the increased cases of obese children. For instance, some parents may opt to buy fast foods for their children in an effort to save time. These children end up lacking the important nutrients required for healthy growth. According to a study done in the United States of America; one in every three children is overweight. These children suffer from deteriorated physical and mental health. They lack a self esteem which leads to depression and reduced self confidence (Beamer, 2012).
Childhood Obesity is a consequence of not doing enough physical activities and eating too much food (calories). Childhood obesity means a high amount of body fat, which may lead to health complications in adulthood. It happens when the child is above his/her normal weight for his height and age. Michelle Obama started and established a campaign “Let’s Move Campaign” which aims at finding solutions to curb the issue of obesity in children. This campaign establishes the issues affecting obese children and provides a means of eliminating this problem at the present. It further educates the Americans on how they can avoid this problem in future. This campaign indicates that lack of physical education lessons in public schools is a cause of obesity. Parents who are not informed about healthy eating and habits also contribute to the increased cases of obese children (Beamer, 2012). Childhood obesity now has become really an important factor that must be discussed and resolved. This has been triggered by the increase of obesity related diseases over the past decades.
There is a rapid increase of obesity and overweight among pre-school children in the developing countries. This has necessitated the search for information about the prevention of this condition. This requires that the solutions are done immediately before they become a recurring trend among the future generation. The action plan involves the obese children, their friends, parents, schools as well as the media among others. Obese children have faced the lack of physical activities by not moving at home, just sitting, watching TV or playing video games. Before, children used to play outside on the garden fields with friends and family members. The situation has changed and children have started doing passive activities like playing on computers instead of playing the variety of sports activities available. They prefer chatting on the new technologies rather than gathering and playing with each other. All these facts have raised the children obesity (Garner, 2010). This paper will discuss on the issues of obesity in children. It will outline the causes, effects and ways of preventing obesity in children.
Obesity is one huge health problem that people faced in 21st century. According to the 1999-2002 NHANES survey in the United States, the number of overweight and obese children has tripled since 1980. This statics was carried on the preschool children. The statistics shows that over the past 20 years there were dramatic increases in childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has become an issue that affects not just a given nation, but an issue of global concern. And as it says that obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to be aware of but unfortunately it’s hard to treat. Each year over 300,000 people die because overweight complications. This is mainly due to lack of exercise and unhealthy diet. Childhood obesity is a global epidemic that has health public consequences when they become adults. Parentinged web site says that Young people in the United States are becoming inactive generation. This is because they don’t like to follow healthier eating habits that are good for their lives. According to the World Health Organization, obesity and overweight is mostly experienced in the developed countries and in urbanized populations (Beamer, 2012).
How to classify obese children
According to the rapid growth of obesity in the United States, the centers disease control created a way to determine a size status of the body called the body mass index (BMI). This BMI measurement is used to measure by using weight and height to know if the person is underweight, normal, obese, or overweight (obesity in children). People who are 97% BMI or higher are considered as obese and the people between 95% and 97% are considered overweight (Centers for disease control and prevention 2008). The result of obesity is the unbalance in calories in the body. It occurs actually when lots of calories are absorbed than released. When this happens the calories are stored as fat cells in the body.
What Are the Implications of Childhood Obesity?
An obese child is likely to experience a number of problems ranging from physical inability, social life, mental and psychological distress as well as their concentration in studies (Kiess, 2004).These issues are as outlined below:
Researchers state that overweight and obesity effects in children are almost as the same way as those in adults. Obese children are likely to develop serious health issues that reduce the quality of life that they lead. The level of cholesterol in their body is high. Doing simple activities is very strenuous to them. The level of cholesterol in the body makes the workload for the cardiac muscles very high. This is a risk to hypertension. There is also a risk of contracting diabetes type 2 which is common among the adults. They may not experience these diseases as children but they are very prone to them in future. The high level of cholesterol in the body makes the obese children experience breathing problems and this can lead to the development of asthma and respiratory problems. This can either be experienced in childhood or late r in adulthood (Kiess, 2004).
Children are normally very active during the day and require a good night’s sleep. This is not the case with obese children. Due to the difficulties experienced in breathing, their sleep is disturbed due to the distraction caused by improper breathing. If this case keeps recurring as they sleep, they develop a condition called Sleep apnea. This means that they cannot sleep soundly without turning and tossing in bed. This can be very disturbing and uncomfortable to the child. Another issue affecting obese children is their physical development. The high level of cholesterol affects the way hormones work in their body. This consequently leads to children developing adult features earlier than expected. Girls may experience menstruation at a very tender age (Freedman, 2009).
The bones and joints in their body may not be able to support the big mass which can lead to issues with body posture. This can even lead to a permanent effect on the bone structures and it is not healthy (Akabas , Lederman, & Moore, 2012).
Mental and emotional effects
Research shows that being obese is connected to body image issues and poor self esteem. This is triggered by ridicule from peers and other members of the society. This makes a child feel in adequate and becomes a social misfit. At their age, this has very adverse effects because children are unable to control their emotions. Depression can lead to uninformed actions like suicidal tendencies in an effort to overcome their in adequacy. This only serves to add them more misery and consequently affects their mental health. The situation is bad because their physical shortcoming cannot be hid and follows them wherever they go. This implies that the bad feeling is continuous and somehow becomes part of their live. They might not know what being free of ridicule and emotional distress feels like. This is a bad thing in any ones life and makes life uninteresting for the young ones who deserve to have lots of fun while growing up (Freedman, 2009).
The psychological impact of obesity
Psychological disturbance is among the health complications caused by obesity. When a child is mentally disturbed, this situation affects a child psychologically (Akabas , Lederman & Moore, 2012). A child determines what she/he is in the society by observing what others perceive of them. This damages their self worth and they become what the society dictates. An example is a case in which a child is labeled as a lazy. These make it worse by refusing to befriend them which only make them retreat further. This may be because of the in ability to do simple tasks with ease like her peers. When the child’s friends refer to it as lazy, this becomes embedded in their minds and they turn out to be just that. This reduces their power to define their destiny in life and they depend on what the society dictates of them. This discrimination makes them develop inferiority complex and withdraw fro interacting with others (Bee & Boyd, 2004).
The bad thing with psychological disturbance in children is that it follows them even into adulthood. These children develop into adults who are inferior to the rest of the members in the society. They are known to have poorer economic status, experience difficult marriages and family lives as well lower levels of education. This is very unfortunate because it decreases the potential in children not because they are not able, but because it becomes set in their minds that they are lesser than others (Moreno, Pigeot & Ahrens, 2011).
Effects on education
Physical education is the most affected aspect of a child’s education. This is attributed to the strain that it cause on their bodies. An obese child lacks interest in activities that strain the body and prefers passive activities like watching TV. When a child is less interested in the physical activities, the other body organs tend to develop slowly. These include the heart, the muscles and the general coordination between the brain and the rest of the body. When this happens the child automatically becomes slower in the activities that just require simple reasoning. They tend to be slower in technical subjects like mathematics and the science subjects.
Obesity comes with other complications like reduced immune system, diabetes, asthma or even a slow recovery from simple injuries. This means that their class attendance is in adequate which leaves them behind the rest of the classmates. Considering that their learning rate is slower than that of others, missing school only makes it worse and they end up lagging behind their peers (Brownell, & Fairburn, 2002).
Some obesity complications like sleep apnea make them drowsy during the day. Drowsiness means that they cannot focus and concentrate in the classroom thus they miss the concepts that are taught. Obesity makes them to become social misfits which also affects their education. When obese children are ridiculed by their peers, they withdraw and end up lacking social skills. The child cannot participate in group activities which are very important in applying the learnt activities. Group work strengthens the memory of learnt activities. Failing to participate in this means a poor memory which in turn translates to poor grades (Freedman, 2009).
How the society contributes in childhood obesity
Parents play a major role in determining whether their offspring lead a healthy life or not. Generally, children eat what their parents eat, is therefore common that children born of obese parents tend to be obese. Genes do not have anything to do with this trend; it is purely blamed on the habits that parents instill in their children ( Brownell & Fairburn, 2002). This is common at the age of five, though some children become obese when younger than this. Such cases are common among parents who do not observe what they feed their children as early as during weaning (Sizer , Piché, & Whitney, 2012).
Children believe that the parents set the example ion what they should do. When parents provide junk foods and sweets that add no value to their health, the children may not be convinced that it is wrong to eat such foods. On the other hand, if parents make the children believe that some foods are harmful to their bodies, the children trust them and eat these foods sparingly. The influence of parents on their children’s eating g habits is very strong and therefore they should be the first to initiate healthy eating habits in their children (Bee & Boyd, 2004).
The learning institutions also play a part in a child’s life and obesity education is among the lessons that a child gains. Awareness is the best weapon that can be employed to curb the problem of obesity. Learning institutions are inadequate in providing this knowledge, informing the children may not be of much help in assisting these obese children. They should work with the parents to ensure that the knowledge they instill in the children is practiced at home. They are failing by not involving parents in their children’s learning activities. It is believed that children spent the better part of their lives in school and therefore they should get adequate help from these institutions (Östman , Britton & Jonsson, 2004).
Lifestyle has changed many aspects in life; eating habits is one of these factors. People are busy with their careers such that they hardly have time for their personal lives. Parents are so busy that household chores cannot fit into their programs. It is unfortunate that business people have realized this and established fast food joints that provide junk food conveniently and cheaply. This has been a major contribution to the unhealthy eating habits that are common in the United States. Due to the hard economic times, parents can only afford the junk foods because they are cheaper and easily available as compared to the healthy foods. Children are fed with these foods and they end up obese. This can be avoided by allocating time to attend to the kids no matter how busy their lives are. Other people are misinformed and associate eating out in these joints with social class. This is not the case because it costs them their health at the end of it all (Foreyt, 2003).
Causes and solutions of obesity in children
Cases of obesity in children have been increasing over the past decades. This is a cause for alarm because this will translate to a similar trend in adults as well. When the number of obese people increases, cases of health problems increase also. The main cause of obesity is overconsumption of foods that add calories in the body. These calories may not all be utilized in the body and that end up being stored as fats. These fats lead to increased cholesterol levels in the body. Failing to watch what is provided to the children to consume is the cause of all the problems of obesity in children. This situation can be reversed by observing healthy eating habits. Avoiding junk and processed food is a step towards curbing this problem (Beamer, 2012).
Failure to eat only healthy foods is as a result of ignorance. However there are other cases in which people eat junk foods without the knowledge of the effects that such foods have on their bodies and health. They lack basic education on nutrition and healthy eating habits. This problem can be done by providing awareness on healthy eating and the problems associated with overconsumption of foods. This can be done by integrating this information in the school syllabuses and involving parents as well. Conducting campaigns on this issue can also increase awareness among the uninformed communities.
Another cause is the availability of junk and processed foods readily and cheaply. These foods have been provided in such a way they fit perfectly well in the lives of the working population (Periara, 2011). They are also available to the school going children in form of snacks and sweets. Another issue is the technology which has introduced passive activities that do not help the children in exercising. Computer games only engage the mind but do not involve the body physically .This is a dangerous form of leisure because the children move from the classroom to these games yet they never have time to burn the calories that have been accumulated in their bodies. These unhealthy lifestyles may not be good to the body in the long run. This issue can be corrected by opting to take fruits and vegetables as a form of snack. The body gets used to healthy snacking and the desire for the unhealthy foods becomes controllable. Children should be involved in sporting activities and physical education, less time should be spend in passive leisure while more time is spend in physical leisure (Moreno, Pigeot, & Ahrens, 2011).
The issue of obesity in children has attracted a lot of attention due to the health implications experienced in the past. This condition not only affects children but also their adult lives. It practically affects every aspect of live and therefore it should be prevented and eliminated to promote life. Awareness is a tool that can be used to curb this problem. The communities should be provided with knowledge on how to exercise healthy eating especially parents. Parents determine the kind of lifestyles that their off springs lead. Learning institutions are also significant in curbing obesity. Engaging both children and their parents is effective in assisting obese children to change from this status. Childhood obesity not only affects a child’s life at the childhood stage but also in adolescence and teenage through the adult stage. It affects the whole society because of the costs and dependence that is involved. Therefore every member in the society should contribute to fighting obesity and promoting healthy life. The current lifestyle should be adapted to the needs of the family to ensure that parents honor their responsibilities in bringing up children. If obesity in children is eliminated, chances are that it will also seize to exist among the grown ups. This is because most of the obese adults developed this condition in childhood.
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