This paper will discuss the fundamental details and problems revolving the issue on “ childhood obesity.” It is slowly becoming a new form of cancer in the society as millions of children around the globe have this disorder and despite efforts in preventing and reducing the problem, the numbers continue to increase in an alarming rate. There have been notable causes to why this problem continues to develop but as far as how to alleviate the problem is still vague. The solutions are also quite hard to enact due to complications. This paper will also discuss both sides of the argument in terms of this problem. The paper will also explore positions from different press releases, books and even look at statistics in this ongoing plague shaking each country it touches.
In recent years since the 1970s, childhood obesity has slowly emerged as one of the most troubling issues faced by parents. Children began to lose interest in outdoor activities, preferring to stay at home and play video games or surf the internet. Since they don’t leave the confines of their homes, they started to discover the wonders of fast food and junk food. With no exercise and an unbalanced diet, children slowly became overweight and became more prone into contracting serious and debilitating diseases. Governments only exert minimum effort in trying to come up with solutions and strategies to prevent childhood obesity. It is only now that they are trying to prevent and reduce the cases of obese children. This paper examines why it is very hard to find a definite solution to the problem of childhood obesity and with the environment the new generation have today, it contributes to their otherwise inactive lifestyle.
Childhood obesity can be acquired by children in a variety of ways, each having a particular consequence in the children’s development and body. There are slight chances a child would be obese depending on his or her genetic makeup. Korbonits (2008) noted that obesity can come from endocrine and single gene disorders but this is a very rare instance as “ 1-2% of obese children are seen in a tertiary care setting .
Worobey (2008) stated that it can begin exactly after the baby is born. He argues that while infants grow at a faster rate, there are cases and situations that would make the child grow significantly to an obese child. Weight gain may come from excessive feeding, maternal attitudes towards feeding and poor intake regulation. A change in the infant’s temperament is a possible contributing factor for early development of childhood obesity as parents may stress that their child is difficult to deal with when it comes to feeding time.
Anderson and Butcher (2006) noted that children who eat more “ empty calories” and reduce the remaining calories in the body through physical activity is most likely to be obese as compared to other children. The environment also contributed to the change in the children as for the past three decades; the environment was able to provide an alternative for those who cannot cook and for those on the go. Parents would choose to dine out or take out foods that are rich in carbohydrates and calories that may then affect the children’s taste buds. Other influential factors such as peers, markets and even media also influences children to follow the trends to fit in. They manage to note that the term childhood obesity depends on the location as they may have different notions on the concept of obesity.
Of course childhood obesity can be dangerous if it is not avoided. The World Health Organization (2000) released a list of risks involved when it comes to the problem of childhood obesity. Children may be prone to contracting problems such as hypertension, heart complications and certain strains of cancers that may prove to be incurable if not tended to at once. There are also chances of contracting non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus due to the excess abdominal fat in the body. Should the child be from a developing or third-world country where cures cannot easily be available or provided; the chances of survival would be reduced significantly. Most of the data about childhood obesity and possible cures and prevention strategies are still held mostly by developed countries so those from the developing countries may find it hard to determine if the child’s condition is rapidly weakening.
The effects of childhood obesity in a child do not stop in the physical aspect as it can also affect the child’s mental and social development. Zwaiuer, Caroli, Malecka-Tendera and Poskitt (2002) noted that obese children tend to be compared to normal children and note their incapacities and development. Obesity affects the child’s growth in some extent that the child takes longer time to grow taller and with the excess body he has, he may not be able to exert enough energy and strength in physical activity such as playing. The child may find his self-confidence shattered as he may be frustrated because of his handicap and figure. Psychological problems may also develop as getting teased, degraded and prejudiced comments on his family status would also affect the child in terms of his performance. A good example they have raised in their article is in terms of school performance, obese children find it hard to keep up their performances in school as compared to normal children .
With the alarming rate of increase of obese children around the globe, various preventive and immediate treatments have been available today to resolve the problem. In the case of the United States, the government starts weeding the problem from the source, the people and work their way to the more general and important branches. The introduction of programs, campaigns and even new laws in establishing the welfare of the children have been advocated by different members of the legislative core to the main system of government. The government, with the advises given to them by the health sectors and organizations, also influence the decision of its local sectors to ensure that proper education and information is properly dispersed to its citizens. Schools and local health sectors, aided by international and local organizations, also help in providing children ways to exercise, eat healthy and socialize with others to promote traditional socialization and social activities. Parents, on the other hand, are advised to strictly watch over their children and teach them the proper ways to eat and exercise .
In terms of treating patients with obesity, there is no definite type of treatment as the problem affects not only the physical aspect. There are certain types of drugs that help in reducing the chance of getting other health risks attached to being obese. Surgical treatments may work as they can take out the excess fat and grease out of the body but the complications that may arise after the surgery may make things work.
Dieting is not really advised as most diet programs do not fit a particular person. Behavior and lifestyle modification is best known to treat the problem and reduce chances of having more complications due to childhood obesity. The treatment targets an introduction to having a healthy lifestyle and increase physical activity. It also improves mental and social aspects of obese children to help in their performances.
But, despite the efforts of trying to reduce and prevent the continuous spread and development of childhood obesity, there are still problems as to how these programs and treatments would be enacted and given to everyone without major repercussions. For Anderson and Butcher (2006), they noted that the challenge in formulating policies to address the issue is the fact that it is the environment in which the children are growing that needs to be changed. Since food today is available almost everywhere, children easily get their hands into these foods and not be aware of the health risks by eating them regularly as they are not supervised by their parents. Some parents may also resort into buying these fast foods because of their work schedules and the lack of time to prepare. Despite knowing the health risks involved in eating these types of foods, they forego it as they cannot afford to be taken out of their system. The policies must be directed towards finding a balanced system that would entice children into combining traditional and modern practices and entice them to socialize outside their homes.
There is also a problem with maintaining economic costs of pediatric obesity as it is only allotted several hundred million dollars annually just like in the United States. Ludwig (2007) noted that if there is no change and of there is no development in the field of pediatric obesity, the costs of obesity will be catastrophic as it would affect a lot of sectors of the country. Medical expenses would increase, worker productivity would be reduced and physical and psychological disabilities would arise in the working sector. There may also be future economic losses if not prevented as it would lead to bankruptcy for Medicare due to shrinking health care coverage. He also noted that it would take a lot of time before experts can obtain the proper data in analyzing the epidemic. Developing new medicine and surgical procedures are also costly and with the government not allotting the proper budget for prevention and reduction strategies against childhood obesity, it would take ages before an effective solution is created. It would then take more time for it to be distributed globally due to distribution costs and availability of these information and products . There is also an issue when it comes to the economic status of the country as it directly affects the lifestyles of its citizens and how the market moves. Some may find it hard to lead a healthy lifestyle due to the fact that it is very expensive, there is not much market specializing in this type of lifestyle and there are only a handful of experts who can teach about a balanced and healthy diet.
There is also concern when it comes to parenting styles and with the children themselves. For parents, they may find it hard to ignore or not appease their children if they do not get what they want. Some parents may spoil them rotten and if the child grows with that kind of upbringing, it would be hard for parents to intervene if the situation grows a lot worst. Children would also lose focus when doing physical activity outside their own homes since with the internet, they can just meet up their friends through video and voice chats and even play games with them thanks to online servers. Computers, video games and other gadgets are also distractions for them to forgo the outdoors and move around. It maybe so that some would still think that online socializing is still a legal type of socialization, the lack of physical activity and interaction may not complete the experience.
Childhood obesity may prove to be very hard to solve and prevent with the current situations around the globe. The lack of information, funds and drive to fully enact and carry out laws and programs are hindered because of the current environment and lifestyle people are used to today. Production and developments of treatment and strategies are also hindered because of the lack of interest and support from the government. Developing countries have it worst because it would take them a while to receive assistance and cures from developed countries over the problem. Children are also unsupervised because most parents nowadays prefer to work to continue living in their current lifestyles and time is just not enough for them and they are always busy to even check up on their child. This then causes children to be free in buying empty foods that they can buy with their allowances without their parents knowing. The introduction of gadgets and the World Wide Web also provided children alternatives to hang out with friends without the need to go out.
Even though there are a lot of problems in finding an accurate and effective solution in reducing the risks and repercussions of childhood obesity, there is still hope as everyone is slowly being aware of the consequences it has should it not be prevented. Governments must be able to strictly enact their laws on health care and awareness and be able to fund the sector as the sector cannot self-fund itself as it cannot sustain all the necessary procedures and steps required to discover the possible cure and treatment for the problem alone. Governments must also be able to curve the problem of economic decline and turn it into a productive market to allow people in investing in healthy foods and services.
They must also be able to provide information, regulate the food industry and market and direct the health sector in monitoring their constituents. For parents and children, they must be fully educated upon the things they eat and things they do and show them the possible consequences in sticking in their current lifestyles. Selecting and discerning what foods and activities they do would be important in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. It is quite necessary to be able to look at all the sectors of society and see the possible repercussions of each move to be done. The future generation is very important as they would be the next faces of society. It is important to find a definite and working strategy and cure to fully solve the problem of childhood obesity to ensure a brighter tomorrow for the new generation.
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