Increased screen time raises the likelihood of children becoming overweight/obese because of the deficiency of physical exercise and the consumption of high-calorie foods. With the level of overweight and obese children progressively rising, pediatric obesity has lasting consequences for the future. This study’s target population is school-aged children from 6 to 11 years, whose prevalence rate of obesity is 18.4% (Sanyaolu, Okorie, Qi, Locke, & Rehman, 2019). Obesity in school-aged children holds both instantaneous and lasting effects on their health and well-being. Such impacts include cardiovascular diseases, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, mental health problems, several forms of cancers, osteoarthritis, and social challenges, for example, low self-esteem and stigmatization. School-aged children who have obesity have a high probability of becoming obese adults. When the problem gets established, it takes time and effort to reverse the situation even with existing interventions. Decreased screen time, regular physical activity, and less consumption of high-calorie food help prevent and treat pediatric obesity.
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Currently, about 20% of children in the United States are either overweight or obese. The health behaviors necessary for the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity encompass regular physical exercise, decreased screen time, and healthy consumption (Fang, Mu, Liu, & He, 2019). Parents should restrict their children’s screen time to about two hours each day, encourage more physical exercise, and ensure the consumption of a balanced diet, with less high-calorie food, at home. Increased screen time negatively influences a child’s sleep patterns, which adds to the risk aspects of pediatric obesity (Garmy, Clausson, Nyberg, & Jakobsson, 2018). Parents should make sure that there is no TV, smartphones, or computers in children’s rooms. Moreover, there should be restricted use of computers, smartphones, watching television, or playing video games by children close to bedtime. A positive parent-child relationship mitigates the associated negative influence of screen time and promotes chances for learning. Therefore, parents should demonstrate their support for valuable engagements and encourage children’s physical exercise, which will result in the adoption of such practices as a portion of their daily routine.
Importance of the Health Behavior
Reduction of screen time, healthy consumption, and regular physical exercise are essential practices because, besides their assistance in the prevention of pediatric obesity, they boost children’s fitness and self-esteem. Moreover, the importance of upholding these health behaviors lies in their avoidance of many other health problems associated with obesity, encompassing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, to mention a few (Goldfield et al., 2016). The psychological and emotional effects of pediatric obesity on children are profound. Pediatric obesity results in feelings of isolation and inadequacy in young children of seven years caused by stigmatization by their peers both at school and home. This impact could lead to depression and suicidal thoughts among children, particularly when the problem persists to adolescence.
Attributable to food being comforting, children with obesity might resort to eating to address their negative feelings, which worsens the development of the problem and other comorbidities such as diabetes. Health professionals should consider all the aspects: body, mind, and soul, in addition to environmental factors when addressing pediatric obesity (Cameron et al., 2016). On the environmental aspect, parents should create a safe place for children to play outside the house. Children should be encouraged to play with their peers, run, and ride bicycles, among other physical activities. When there are no safe playgrounds or children are not given time to play outside the house, they tend to spend much of their time watching television or playing video games.
Benefits on Individual’s Health
The benefits of health behaviors such as decreased screen time and increased physical activity include the prevention of physical and mental health problems, which lead to low quality of life. With pediatric obesity becoming a significant factor that influences the international burden of illness and economic difficulties, there is a need for parents, teachers, and the government to provide necessary interventions towards the prevention and treatment of the condition. Discouragement of outdoor games and hobbies makes it easy for a child to increase screen time, hence the need for parents and teachers to promote children’s interests outside the digital world (Fang et al., 2019). Since sporting activities make good hobbies where children can discover their talents or enhance their physical exercise, the government should ensure safe playgrounds in all schools and highly populated communities. Coupled with the promotion of health behaviors by parents, the availability of playgrounds will give children a suitable environment in which they can play, make friends, and socialize rather than spend all day on the screens of digital devices.
Augmented screen time raises the possibility of children becoming overweight/obese due to the shortage of physical exercise and increased consumption of high-calorie foods. Pediatric obesity holds both immediate and long-term effects on children’s health and well-being. Such problems encompass high blood pressure, mental health problems, cardiovascular diseases, arrhythmia, stroke, diabetes, several forms of cancers, osteoarthritis, and social challenges, for instance, low self-confidence and stigmatization. Reduced screen time, regular physical activities, and less intake of high-calorie food support in preventing and treating pediatric obesity among school-aged children.
Cameron, J. D., Maras, D., Sigal, R. J., Kenny, G. P., Borghese, M. M., Chaput, J. P.,… Goldfield, G. S. (2016). The mediating role of energy intake on the relationship between screen time behavior and body mass index in adolescents with obesity: The HEARTY study. Appetite, 107, 437-444.
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Fang, K., Mu, M., Liu, K., & He, Y. (2019). Screen time and childhood overweight/obesity: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Child: Care, Health and Development, 45(5), 744-753.
Garmy, P., Clausson, E. K., Nyberg, P., & Jakobsson, U. (2018). Insufficient sleep is associated with obesity and excessive screen time amongst ten-year-old children in Sweden. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 39, e1-e5.
Goldfield, G. S., Murray, M., Maras, D., Wilson, A. L., Phillips, P., Kenny, G. P.,… Sigal, R. J. (2016). Screen time is associated with depressive symptomatology among obese adolescents: A HEARTY study. European Journal of Pediatrics, 175(7), 909-919.
Sanyaolu, A., Okorie, C., Qi, X., Locke, J., & Rehman, S. (2019). Childhood and adolescent obesity in the united states: A public health concern. Global Pediatric Health, 6, 1-11.