Child Obesity

Child Obesity

The Journal of American Medical Association cites obesity as an increasingly challenging health issue in the recent times. The United States is listed second, just behind Mexico, in the world listing for obesity in large countries. The Journal reports a worrying increase in the cases of adult obesity from a 13% prevalence rate to 33.3% in 2008. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) reports that, as at the year 2010, over 35% of American adults and 17% of American children were obese. Therefore, this begs the question, is child obesity a disease?

Child obesity can be said to be a condition in children where high degrees of body fat is a negative body factor is child well being socially, as well as when it comes to matter of health (Langwit 67). When it comes to referring to this condition in children, the term overweight is adopted because it is less stigmatizing than the word obese. Looking at the above statistics, it is evident that as of 2010 17 percent of children were obese. This number continues to rise according to Hendy, who argue that in every 5 American children, one of them is obese as of 2013 These statistics have sparked concerns that child obesity might be a disease after all. However, I beg to disagree that obesity in children is a disease because it is a lifestyle condition. Why is it a life style condition? Because almost all of the causes as well as the prevention factors of this disease are all based on the lifestyle one brings up his child in.

For starters, causes of obesity primarily point to unhealthy eating habits, lack physical activity or a combination of these factors (Langwith 32). Sometimes genetic factors may also have a hand in increased body tissue in a child. However, unhealthy eating habits more so when it comes to junk foods, followed up by physical inactivity are the primary causes of this condition in children (Hendy 96). That is the reason it is a lifestyle factor other than a disease. I interviewed a co-worker, Brandi. V who is a mother of a 6yr old boy, on what she thought was the main contributor to the condition. Brandi also felt that junk foods are the main contributors to child obesity. According to Brandi, fats are usefully in human body for the production of energy, to act as shock absorber and also to act as heat insulator. But in excess, fats lead to obesity.

Obesity can be defined “as abnormal increase of fat in the subcutaneous connective tissue.”. Persons taking too much junks or fatty foods from nearby fast foods kiosks are at high risk of being victims of obesity. Some psychological behaviors, like anger, sadness and boredom, can cause a person to take too much fatty foods (Langwith 30).Being fat really does not have to mean that one is obese. Obesity can be calculated or defined by what is called ‘body mass index’, abbreviated as BMI. This is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in terms of meters (Hendy 65). Normally, a person’s BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Below 18.5 then a person will be said to be underweight. For an overweight person, the BMI range is between 25.0 and 29.9.  When an individual registers BMI of 30 and above, he/she is said to be an obese. Obesity has many negative effects and it is estimated to be the contributing factor for a hundred thousand to four hundred thousand deaths in USA per year. Obesity has also increased the health care expenditures to an estimated $117 billion in direct and indirect expenditures in the USA thereby weighing heavily on the health budget (Hendy 75). Such expenditure exceed cost associated with controlling drinking and smoking problems and is estimated at about 8% of the health care budget of the American budget. This is because; most of these obese children grow to maturity with their conditions where they develop other health defects like heart diseases.

There are a couple of factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic. Overall, obesity is mainly attributed to the eating lifestyles of people. According to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), cultural, social, and environmental factors influence the eating habits of people. In the United States, the cultural habits relating to certain foods are the grates contributors to this problem. For instance, many children in this country feed on such American foods like hamburgers, doughnuts, and French fries, all of which are highly rich in carbohydrates (Hendy 19). Such foods, usually referred to as junk food, are the common recipe for many since they are sweet, easy to make and readily available over the numerous fast food chains in America. For this reason, many children are exposed to these foods during their early lives and end up with some ‘addiction’ of sorts over these foods (Langwith 98). Unfortunately, America has not yet adopted effective legislation to address this scourge and food companies end up using high amounts of sugar and fat in their food in the order to increase palatability and profitability while ignoring consumers’ health concerns. In addition, families are foregoing the traditional formal meal times where nutritious food could be served to snacking.

Social activities like partying, meetings, even funerals and other interactions expose people to a lot of eating where these junk foods are the main dishes. As well, there have been many sweet drinks as beverages available to the mass markets, which due to their high sugar contents predispose people to weight gain (Langwith 67). America is also on a dangerous trend of inactivity as more people spend time indoors. The advent of technology bringing with it cellular devices such as mobile phones, video games, TVs, have increased the time children spend in the house. This time should instead be the time used for engaging in physical activities like swimming and playing in order to use up excess energy. Studies indicate that people, especially children, who spend most of their times indoors have high fat contents and are highly prone to obesity.

Obesity has many effects on the human body. For instance, research indicates that children with obesity are at risk of suffering from such lifestyle diseases as diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancers, liver and gall bladder disease, stroke, hypertension, sleep and respiratory problems and osteoarthritis later in life (Hendy 122). As well, female obese patients are at risk of experiencing gynecological problems such as abnormal menses and infertility. Being overly obese also implicate serious psychological problems. As such, a lot of obese children are usually ridiculed by their peers and families alike and often end up catching sneers and jeers from neighbors which might lead them to social exclusion and low self-esteem. There is the general thinking that obesity is caused by lack of discipline, and this might often spread to the work world where an obese person may be denied an opportunity simply because of his weight.

The best solution to the problem of obesity in children is extensive public health awareness on obesity. Parents should be educated on the causes, dangers, and ways in which to prevent obesity more so in their children. Ideally, children should be encouraged to more proactive and engage in physical activities by shunning indoor ones (Langwith 163). As well, children should be discouraged from consuming junk food and foods that are rich in carbohydrates and fats. More so, the government should put in place legislation that regulates the sale of junk foods whereas encouraging healthy eating where people could be given incentives for eating at home, and taxed for buying junk food. Fast food companies should also take responsibility by avoiding deceptive advertising and adopting ethical food production techniques.

In conclusion, child obesity is a very serious life style condition. This condition affects a child from early stages of development more so with little to no physical activity even later in life. Since almost all causes of this condition point to how one lives their life, I argue that it is a lifestyle condition and not a disease.


Works Cited

Hendy, Helen. Reduce Child Obesity: A Guide for Using the Kid’s Choice Program in School and at Home. , 2013. Print.

Langwith, Jacqueline. Childhood Obesity. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Print.

Conversation with Brandi. V: A mother to a 6yrs old boy.