Childhood obesity is a condition in which children are significantly overweight for their age and height. Obesity at a young age in children may lead to having high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, breathing problems, asthma, sleep apnea, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and can also lead to children having diabetes. Sometimes individuals do not realize or notice any signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or even know that they have diabetes the only sign they will show is being overweight. One of the leading chronic diseases throughout the world is actually obesity and it is the topmost leading cause here in the United States mortality, morbidity, disability, lastly healthcare cost adds up to billions of dollars in preventable spending each and every year. Obesity is having excess amounts of adipose tissue also known as fatty tissue which is a connective tissue that mainly consists of fat cells, it secretes products such as lipids and metabolites. Excess amounts of lipids and metabolites may lead to insulin resistance which can then lead to type two diabetes. It is said that about 17 percent of children are considered to be obese which puts them at high risk for a range of different health problems. In the United States, the percentage of children who have obesity has astonishingly tripled since the 1970s. 1 out of 5 children from ages 6 to 19 have obesity. The way obesity is identified is by an individual's BMI (body mass index). BMI is a screening tool used for measuring obesity and overweight, the BMI percentile is usually just measured for young adults and children. Children with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and less than the 95th percentile are considered to be overweight. Children with a percentile that is higher than 95 are considered obese. Parents need to focus on improving their children’s diet and their exercise habits which is one of the best ways for children to achieve a healthy weight.
In most cases, childhood obesity is because of overeating and not exercising enough. However, there are so many other factors that come into play to increase the risk of having obesity. One of the many reasons is closely related to a child's diet. Unhealthy food choices and regular consumption of high-calorie foods, like the consumption of fast food and baked goods, can cause weight gaining, which then leads to obesity. Short sleep duration, excessively eating, not exercising enough, the neighborhood they live in, their metabolism, and an individual’s surroundings are all causes of obesity. Obesity has brought a range of problems for children at an early age. It’s an important public health priority that needs to be addressed as many people are taking this very lightly and saying “it’s okay, children don’t know any better”, but parents don’t realize that by saying this, they're only making it worse and letting their children make a habit of eating fast foods and junk foods that lead to obesity. It’s so much easier now for parents to simply buy their kids ready-made frozen food and warm it for them to eat or simply buy the child food from any fast food restaurant that’s quick and easy for them. It’s so easy for parents to give their children lunch money telling them “you may buy something for yourself at school from the vending machines” thus why kids are buying soda and chips and eating that for lunch. Parents are somewhere running away from their responsibilities or are either too busy to cook for their children which is why they take the easy way out by giving the child money or buying them fast food themselves. Therefore kids are adapting and getting used to eating junk food which is very addicting for them and once they have started it becomes very hard for them to stop. If we were to go around asking children from ages 5-19 what they like to eat and what their favorite food is the majority of these children will say chips, sodas, french fries, candies, ice cream, and other junk food they are so used to eating.
Since there is a fast-food restaurant at almost every corner of any block it has become very accessible for people. Because of this parents often become lazy and decide to buy their children food from fast-food restaurants like McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, or Wendy’s. Another reason why people buy fast food is that it is a much cheaper alternative. The second of the many reasons is the lack of physical activity, children are rarely seen exercising, going out for a run, going for a walk at the park ever since computers and televisions have come into our lives children tend to stay inside instead of taking part in outdoor activities. Physical activity was seen as a form of entertainment for some people in the past however, now with the world making technological advances each and every day, it’s taking over children’s lives. A computer or television becomes a child’s entertainment instead, children wake up shower, sometimes they even forget to eat and if they do they grab the easiest form of food while they play video games with their friends. They start to indulge in junk food around them and sit for hours on a chair just eating the junk food. The environment that children are around has a major contribution to obesity, if children are constantly around bags of chips, pizzas, and candy bars, the children will most obviously indulge in these foods instead of fruits and vegetables.
Genetics is another main reason, If a child is born into a family of overweight people, they are most likely already predisposed to obesity. In addition, of course, medical conditions have an effect on the child's weight. Not common but there are genetic diseases and hormonal diseases that can predispose to child obesity, this includes hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland does not release enough hormones to control metabolism. There are also many emotional consequences that occur with obesity, children who are obese are bullied and teased for their body weight each day and come home sad, depressed, lock themselves up in their room which leads to depression and anxiety. A healthier approach can turn things around for a child that is obese, when going grocery shopping a smarter alternative is to choose fruits and vegetables as compared to convenience food. Limiting sweetened beverages and fast food consumption plays a positive role in weight loss. Finding activities of a child's interest and limiting their computer time emphasizes more physical activity. The more people become aware of the results of obesity, the more precautions they are most likely to take moving forward. As much as technology has positive effects for us today, it also comes with negative effects as well. Computers and televisions can cause children to become inactive, and not aware of their surroundings. Limiting their computer and television time can also help in putting an end to obesity.
Therefore, Getting childhood obesity under control can be beneficial for future generations, and for this generation. If everyone in our community can do their part we can try to prevent childhood obesity. Changing the snacks in vending machines is a huge step forward to decreasing childhood obesity. Although this may seem like such a small thing to do, it is actually a major cause of obesity just like preventing children from smoking in schools, local communities, and in-school youth organizations are important the snacks in the vending machines at schools should also be an important factor to look out at. Schools need to stop selling and filling up their vending machines with only junk food and should have healthy alternatives as well. The amount of physical activity being performed in schools should be increased to at least 30 minutes mandatory each day instead of once a week. Serving sizes at restaurants should also be reduced. Restaurant owners need to stop advertising new deals each day because for them it’s business but for people, it’s their life. People look at these advertisements and end up falling for them. If we can stop obesity in young ages ranging from 6-19 and if we can help children adapt to a healthier lifestyle starting at a young age we can stop obesity overall and decrease the numbers in all ages.