Childhood Obesity Effects on Youth Development
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CHILDHOOD OBESITY EFFECTS ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
ENG122: English Composition II
April 9, 2012
One third of American children and youth are either obese or at risk of becoming obese, (Desjardins & Schwartz, 2007). According to the Centers of Disease Control, 15 percent of children and adolescents are overweight, (Marcus, n.d). The numbers have more than tripled since the 1970s. What defines obesity? Since Childhood Obesity is such an epidemic research shows it would be important to help others understand what factors contribute to the increasing statistics as generations go on and to teach others what they can do to help make a change. Is it the sole responsibility of a family or society as a whole that needs to focus on the increasing numbers in order to prevent childhood obesity?
Obesity is the high levels of body fat within an individual in relation to their lean body mass. To calculate this number one would take their weight in pounds divided by (height in inches times by height in inches) times by 703. The final number equals the body mass index. That number is then compared to a gender specific growth chart that was created by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This chart is created by taking an average of BMI (Body Mass Index) counts over the course of a year.
According to research, the highest contributing factors to childhood obesity are behavioral and environmental. Behavioral factors are eating to large of portions, sugary snacks and drinks, lack of water, vegetables and fruit intake and not enough physical activity. The environmental factors that contribute to child obesity are family, school, community and social medias, (Kim, & Wong, 2010). The environmental factors play into childhood obesity more than one may realize because we are so into our daily lives and routines that we fail to see what each in turn does to the youth of today. Another factor that is not recognized as easily as the others is the financial end of the scale. With the increasing prices of food and other daily needs such as gas, families are minimizing food costs and are opting for prepackaged convenience foods that are high in calories and fat (Wieting, 2007). It has been established that in certain areas of the country there are higher obesity rates than others. These numbers continue to grow each year. It has further been researched that the rate of obesity is higher among ethnic minorities and disadvantaged children, (Desjardins, & Schwartz, 2007). Children in areas that cannot obtain fresh foods and only sell the processed goods and fast food seem to have the highest numbers of obese children. Research also suggests that these areas do not have safe areas where children can play outdoors, whether it is because of unsafe living conditions, poor road ways for children to walk to school or poor playgrounds.
2003 Rates of Obese Children
2007 Rates of Overweight and Obese Children
If we were to study a standard day of a family with working parents and a child we would discover the same routine in most households. Parents are busy getting ready for work and child is getting ready for school. They all rush out the door because each needs to be at work and school. There is no time to sit and make a health family breakfast, either a sugary cereal is poured out or a quick grab and go breakfast such as pop tarts make up the morning meal. Everyone goes about their day grabbing snacks from machines or fast food. Then there is the rush home to make some sort of dinner because homework and chores still need to get done or maybe the child has an afterschool activity that they take part of. Then there is a quick snack before bed, then sleep. Where in that day did a healthy well balanced meal fit in? It didnt and that is the problem with society today.
Todays youth are so involved with video games, computers and TV that there is a huge lack of physical activity. Even in schools there is a cut back on physical education classes. A student can get approved to be part of a band or chorus program instead of being in a gym class. Some students need not be missing a gym class especially when their home life style provides no activity. Social media sell to the youth of today, with their appealing commercials and ads in magazines or online. They advertise all the yummy snacks and fast food meals that kids love. Throw in a toy at a fast food place and the kids beg to go. This is part of the poor eating habits that develop at a young age. Children are products of their environments. If a parent purchases junk food and does not supply healthy well balanced meals then a child will grow only knowing those standards. If a parent does not encourage physical activity and sits in front of a TV all the time then a child will copy what they see. If a child is upset or stressed they may turn to food as a source of comfort.
There are many negative effects obesity has on children and adolescents. Medically children can develop high cholesterol and high blood pressure and if not corrected can lead to heart disease as an adult. Type 2 Diabetes is now being found in overweight children were at one point it was only found in adults. Having all the extra weight can have an effect on the lungs causing asthma or other breathing problems (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Sleeping may become an issue. The child may develop a snoring problem or just complications breathing while laying down, also known as Sleep Apnea. A child is also at a greater risk for bone and joint problems along with the increased risk for many types of cancers as they grow and develop. The extra weight can also have effects on the childs physical abilities to run and play. If a child is obese then there is a chance that puberty or menstruation will occur earlier in development in turn causing emotional and social complications. Genetics can play a hand in the cause