Essay on Childhood Obesity in America

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Introduction

At present, kids in America are more overweight than at any time in recent history. This is coming at a tremendous expense to the economy and government. The majority of these kids at the present age barely take an interest in open-air exercises as they indulge more in computer games, PC applications, and internet-based life. It is thought that this generation might be the first to live shorter lives than their folks. The older generation spent most of their childhood doing outdoor activities and got a chance to interact with other children. To begin with, currently, technological advances in various fields have offered the current children a variety of indoor games to select from. Parents, on the other hand, find it safer when their children play or have some form of entertainment at home rather than outdoors. The rise in crime rates in many cities including kidnaps and gang-related shootouts have made playgrounds and parks unsafe for children. This paper will discuss how increased screen time among children has elevated the propensity of children to develop obesity due to a lack of physical activities. Obesity is associated with other health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac arrest.

Childhood Obesity

Sometime in the past chubby kids were viewed as adorable. It was expected that their infant fat would liquefy away, and a solid grown-up would rise. We presently realize that childhood obesity can affect health issues in adulthood, and remains a great concern for children in this current generation. Thompson (2016) states that the “childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis. One in every three children (31.7%) ages 2-19 years old is overweight or obese.” It simply means that children have excess body fat as determined by body mass index (BMI), this calculation is used to measure weight against height. Several health issues can arise if the kids are obese and this can shorten the overall quality of human life. Turel, Romashkin, & Morrison (2016) explain that this is a major concern, “as childhood obesity and excess weight increase the risk of hypertension, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Moreover, childhood obesity tracks into adulthood.” Most of these diseases have no cure but are just manageable with medication, and physical activities that can burn body fats. Especially diabetes comes with a lot of complications that progress to blindness, and disability such as amputation of extremities in the body due to poor blood circulation in medical terms it is referred to as neuropathy. On the other hand, hypertension alludes to the as quiet executioner; it is not symptomatic thusly one will simply drop dead or end up with heart issues in the long haul. With these diseases affecting the major organs in our body kidney failure is inevitable, and in the long run, one must have dialysis to help the kidney output urine. The picture created here is one will spend less quality of life with a lot of health issues. These diseases can be avoided when we as parents plan our youngsters' diets, educate them on what it means to have obesity and health issues associated, and monitor screen time.

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Video Game Addiction

There is a connection between increased screen time and obesity among children, especially with new technology where children spend long hours playing video games, television, computer games, and the use of the internet. Video game addiction has been proven through research to be associated with childhood obesity, Turel et al (2016) describe video game addiction as “a state of maladaptive psychological dependency on using video games, manifested through a pattern of excessive videogame seeking and use behaviors that infringe individuals’ normal functioning and leads to adverse consequences.” Video game addiction can be contrasted with chronic drug use where the body wants to be fed medications to work well. Kids will play video games for extended periods denying their bodies rest during the night. This brings antagonistic outcomes including wellbeing-related issues and abridged rest which is one of the serious issues of video game addiction.

Children have a recommended sleep duration for better health outcomes. According to an article written by Iannotti, Torbjørn, Melkevik, & Wold (2010), they state that “The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours of sleep per night for children aged 6-13 years. Obtaining the recommended amount of sleep is important for mental and physical health.” Children experience less sleep time playing video games due to the absence of parental monitoring as the parents are busy with earning an income to make ends meet. Children are often left unattended and unsupervised playing video games for long hours during the day or at night.

Turel et al. (2016) research elaborates on why video games reduce sleeping time in children “Video game addiction can increase screen time before bed. The light emitted from light-emitting diode (LED) screens emulates daytime for the brain, which suppresses the release of melatonin and drives reduced sleep.” Therefore, this explains why children will play video games for long hours without getting tired or sleepy. Compared to reading a book in which children will be seen yawning, bored, and ready for bed. When parents or guardians read a book to a child before sleeping the child is observed to sleep even before the conclusion of the reading. The question is how the body compensates for lack of sleep during increased screen time among children.

Also, the effects of lack of sleep among children due to video game addiction induce changes in the body's metabolism. Less sleep means the body gets different signals that initiate hormones related to hunger, children will tend to snack more often than normal, which increases their energy levels. Turel et al. (2016) through research confirm that “The increase in energy intake can be partially explained by sleep-induced changes in secretion of the appetite hormones ghrelin is predominantly secreted from stomach cells and stimulates the appetite.” The foods provided at home for children are sometimes unhealthy, especially with busy parents. Providing healthy food is a challenge for some parents with less money to speed, most foods are processed, and frozen with no nutrition. On the other hand, children will tend to love microwavable foods that are easy to warm and consume in less time. Handily, do parents cook at home, some will order food from fast-food restaurants for their families to consume.

Dispute About Childhood Obesity

Many parents may not agree that video games could be one of the contributing factors to obesity in children. Obesity may be influenced by other factors apart from increased screen time among children. Genetic disposition would be considered in some cases because some children are born with obesity genes inherited from their parents. In this case, the increase in weight will not be affected by a lack of activities and increased screen time. Also, socioeconomic status influences food consumption in families, parents spend more time working to make ends meet, making sure bills are paid and the family has a roof over their heads. Children will consume what is provided by their parents according to what is affordable in the market. According to an article featured on Social Science Quarterly, 615, 226-243. “In the United States, large portions, high consumption of soft drinks and high-calorie fast foods, low costs for high-calorie foods and higher costs for fruits and vegetables, limited access to healthy foods for the poor, and massive marketing campaigns targeting children are linked to poor diet, high risk for excess weight gain.” Social-economic issues tend to affect many families in the United States, will high rates of unemployment and jobs underpaying their workers. In an instant where parents earn as low as Indiana's basic pay of 7.25 dollars, one can imagine the struggle to make ends meet. High utility bills from water to electricity not to mention basic cable and internet bills, quality food for this parent would not be a priority.

There are other factors to consider before concluding childhood obesity could be associated with increased screen time. In this research by Turel et al (2016), the author states that not all finding was considered “This study focused on one key relatively stable predictor of curtailed sleep, video game addiction. There are many other possible stables (e.g., parental oversight, chronic stress) and situational (e.g., the flu, situational stress) predictors of sleep.” Parents may overlook or leave children unsupervised for long periods to work long hours or overtime to compensate for low income. Other health issues may play a role that would reduce sleep among children their parents divorcing or simply working away from home which would contribute to stress.

Effects of Electronic Devices

To ascertain that screen time is responsible for obesity, it’s important to investigate how many hours children spend on video games that would end up causing an addiction which in return would cause a lack of sleep and hence contribute to increasing food intake. On one hand, most parents would concur that children spend a lot of unsupervised time on screens and on the other hand, unhealthy foods offered to children would also contribute to obesity. Therefore, obesity among children cannot be solely blamed on increased screen time among children but also cannot entirely rule out its effect on obesity. They are other factors such as current trends in technology, and especially the increased use of electronics among children can also be considered. Dube et al. (2010) provide us with evidence of how many hours children spend on electronics, “between 1996 and 2009, children aged 8-18 years old were reported to use EECDs (TVs, computers, tablets, video games, and cell phones) for as much as 8 1/2 hours daily, seven days a week.” This evidence continues to prove that increased screen time contributes to the increase in weight among children with no physical activities involved. This research finding should encourage parents to be involved in their children day to day-to-day activities and monitor how long they spend on electronics.

Most parents keep children entertained with electronics without a cue of the health implications involved. Every birthday or Christmas a parent strives to buy a new electronic device to keep up with the trends. Keeping televisions in the children’s bedroom has encouraged children to stay awake for longer hours than recommended sleep hours. Parents should have other alternative ways of providing entertainment such as book reading before sleep. Dube et al (2010) in a research article stated that.' In place of engaging in stimulating interactive activities with bright lights, we found that frequently reading a book during the hour before sleep without EECD access in the bedroom, is key to a longer sleep duration, sleep quality, very good sleep efficiency, and normal weight status.” The book reading will be more beneficial than a kid playing a video game, or staring at the television all day, reading tradition would improve school grades at the end of the day.

The current generation has been found to hardly participate in outside activities. An interview was conducted, and a kid was asked if she would be interested in movements that would make someone inhale at any rate for 20 minutes. Joan reacted, 'She doesn't take an interest in either running, skating, quick-moving, or swimming during the week.' (Joan personal communication, October 12, 2019) This sample interview indicates that the new generation does not show enthusiasm towards physical exercises, yet they tend to incline toward video games, laptops, and the online world. Parents have a great role in ensuring that their children have a balanced diet to ensure proper health but in response to an interview, Eunice who is a parent states, 'I don't design dinners, in this manner, she gets what is accessible because I work extended periods and I am scarcely at home.' (Eunice personal communication, October 13, 2019) This proves that not only do parents need to supervise increased screen time but also provide foods that support good health for their kids. Monitoring our children's screen time would help prevent obesity issues in the long run.

Conclusion

Obesity has been a serious issue in the current generation parents need to step up and provide supervision to their children. Technologies can be used in moderation with parents educating their children on the effects of video games, computers, the internet, and phone apps. Also, healthcare providers can create community projects to reach out to families, teaching how to plan healthy meals and attending doctors' checks. Access to healthcare can help with the detention of early childhood obesity, and prevention interventions can be put in place. A parent should consider removing televisions from their children’s bedrooms and encourage children to read printed books before sleeping. Incorporating healthy foods into youngsters' diets would be important, monitoring weights and growth.

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