The United States of America has had the largest number of reported childhood obesity and overweight cases for the last twenty years. However, it is important to note that this condition is common in most developed countries including the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Russia, Germany, France and Australia. Globally, it is estimated that there are over 170 million cases of overweight children and the number seems to be increasing exponentially. The high prevalence of increased body mass index (BMI) has serious health consequences to children often causing other risk conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes. The report will highlight the issue of obesity among children in the United States. It will focus on causes, impacts and possible solutions to the obesity problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), childhood obesity is one of the growing chronic diseases among American children.
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Causes of Childhood Obesity
It is regarded that the general wellness of a society highly contributes to how the children in that society are brought up. The socio-economic position of the US has seen a steady increase in the obese cases. So who is to blame for this condition? Are these multinational companies that have flooded the markets with junk foods? Are parents responsible for neglecting the dietary needs of their children? There is generally no proper way of assigning blame. Other factors contributing to this condition may include the emotional and physical state of the children. Children who are bullied in schools tend to mask their emotional stress by eating junk food regularly. This is also the case for children who are teased about their weight by other children. This condition is taking over American children across state lines and across the ethnic diversity affecting both young boys and girls.
Impact of childhood obesity
Childhood obesity may lead to “adult” related chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases (increased cholesterol, high blood pressure and increase in insulin), type-2 diabetes or even cancers. A study conducted showed that over sixty percent of children under ten, who were overweight, had a greater potential of experiencing one or more risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.
Children who are overweight are at risk of experiencing low self-esteem leading to social withdrawal as they do not fit into with their peers. This further leads to depression and self-blame, factors which further contribute to increased weight as the children will fall back on abnormal eating habits (Pretlow, 2010).
Overweight or obesity has an adverse impact on performance output. Children suffering from this condition generally tend to shy away from physical activities. They do not take part in social events like sports. These children enjoy staying indoors and watching television, playing with their computers and eating more junk food (Ducat, 2007). The lack of body exercise and continued snacking worsen the problem further. This habit is then extended to adulthood. The economy will suffer as there is minimal output from these young adults.
How does American society combat the issue of childhood obesity? There are no clear solutions in sight, however, a collaborative effort amongst all stakeholders will have a considerable achievement in reversing the current overweight numbers. Parents, teachers, health institutions, government and the multinationals have an important role to play in solving the problem (Satter, 2005).
Parents need to constantly monitor their children’s diet ensuring that they consume the right calorie quantities required for their bodies. They should also offer their children emotional support as it is important for the children to feel loved. The parents should also be role models; children tend to follow in their parents eating trends. While at home the parents or guardians should encourage their children to exercise and participate in social events (Waters, 2010).
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Schools should have proper menus and encourage co-curricular participation. Children who bully and tease obese children should be given caution.
The multinational companies who are making millions of dollars on children are also to be blamed of. Each day there is a new product found on the stores shelves. Millions of dollars are used in advertising these products to children, thereby increasing the problem. Since the companies cannot be successfully sued for it, it is, therefore, important for them to play their part and advocate for proper consumption patterns of their products.
The government and its health institutions should collaborate with parents and other stakeholders to monitor childhood obesity in America. Studies should be carried out on ways to effectively deal with the situation. It is important to maintain a track record of the obese cases in order to know how to help the children with this conditions. Constant medical aid should be afforded to these children and more recreational centers should be availed for practice.
The future any society depends on are the children. Healthy children make a healthy and productive society. Obesity can be controlled if all stakeholders play their part. Children with this condition should be cared for, loved and accepted by society.
Ducat, S. (2010). Child obesity policy brief. Journal of Health Policy, 29. Web.
Pretlow, R. (2010). Overweight: What kids say: What’s really causing childhood obesity epidemic. North Charleston. CreateSpace.
Satter, E. (2005). Your Child’s Weight, Helping Without Harming. Madison, Kelcy Press.
Waters, E. (2010). Preventing childhood obesity: Evidence policy and practice (Evidence-based medicine). Oxford. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.