Childhood obesity has become a complex health concern for public health officials. Obesity in children has reached its peak with more than one- third of children being either overweight or obese. (Salem Press,2014). Childhood obesity can be defined as when a child is above the normal weight and height for his or her age. The excess weight may come from either bone, fat, muscle, water or a mix of all four. (Davidson, 2013). It is also suggested that this can also occur when a child is above his or her recommended Body Mass Index (BMI). Body Mass Index is a calculation that is used to determine an individual’s body fat. This is done by calculating the height and weight. An individual is considered overweight if one’s BMI is between 25.5 and 29.9. However, in calculating a child’s BMI, age and gender are taken into account, unlike adults. Children’s BMI is compared with age and gender-based growth chart which are called BMI-for-age-percentiles. (Davidson, 2013).
Children’s below the 5th percentile are considered underweight, between 5th and less than the 85th percentile are considered healthy, between 85th and less than the 95th percentile are considered overweight, and 95th percentile and above are said to be obese. (Davidson, 2013 & Frisco, 2009). According to a research done by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, it was gathered that the chances of obesity has doubled among boys and girls ages 2 to 5 and tripled among boys and girls 6 to 11 between the periods of early 1970 to 2000. (Frisco, 2009). In reference to data that was collected from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) by CDC in 2008, it was gathered that obesity growth among children 2 to 5 has increased from 5.0% to 10.4%. Among ages 6-11, obesity has increased from 6.5% to 19.6%. (Salem Press, 2014).
Effect of nutrition on Obesity Nutrition is one of the key factors resulting in childhood obesity. Much research has shown that in most homes, parents are not providing their kids with proper nutritional diets. Therefore, denying the kids a balanced and nutritious diet. Parents tend to not understand how much food their child should eat at a particular age. (Davidson,2013). Research has also shown that most of these parents are not exposed to the kind of information that will allow them to prepare the type of nutritious meal for their families. One of the ways in which these problems can be addressed is through our public health system by enhancing policies to decrease the possibilities of children being overweight. One way this can be done is by creating awareness for parents to encourage a healthy eating habit for their kids at an early age.
Teaching kids how to eat a healthy diet sets a framework for their eating habits throughout their lives. (Davidson,2013). For example, limiting sugar intake, initiating fruits and vegetables into their diet, limiting sodium intake, balancing calories intake, etc. Schools also have an important role to play in addressing the obesity problem among school kids. It is no secret that most of the meals that are provided to most school children’s are not balanced and leaves them much to be desired. In addition to the meals provided, kids are exposed to a variety of sugary drinks and candies that are available from vending machines that are strategically located within common areas in the school building. For example, in the cafeteria, auditoriums etc. Companies are beginning to target children in schools. This is done by placing adverts in school publications, placing adverts on school buses, equipment, supplies, etc. (Frisco, 2009). Because of the obesity problem among school kids, the agency that are responsible for supplying all schools meals should be mandated to provide nutritious meals to the kids. They should also embark on policies that all vending machines should supply only nutritious drinks and snacks, especially healthy drinks and snack bars.
Another major contributor to the obesity crisis is the prevalence of the growing number of fast food outlets within most communities. These fast foods outlets provide meals that are not nutritiously balanced and are targeted mostly towards kids and families. Although these foods are not nutritious and balanced, the kids are being drawn to them because of the way they are presented through advertisement. According to Michelle Frisco, corporations are spending billions of dollars on advertising foods to children’s and more than half of these food advertisements on television are marketing sweets, fats, fast foods, etc. (Frisco, 2009). Another reason could be attributed to its pricing policy that makes their products affordable. These foods are so priced, making it easily affordable to kids. Effect of physical education on Obesity Another key factor resulting in childhood obesity is the lack of limited participation in physical activities. Research has shown that in most homes, there seems to be a minimum amount of physical activities among its members. Numerous researches have shown that people who were inactive or participated very little in any type of sporting activities during their school years will manifest itself in their adult years.
These adults (Parents) who for whatever reason may not have engaged in these school physical activities on becoming adults maintain the same inactive statuesque. This problem sadly to say does not stop there but are past on to their children who themselves grow up being physically inactive, contributing to the obesity crisis. It has also been argued that circumstances contribute to the inactivity of some of these household. For example inaccessible playgrounds, parks etc. Because of the inaccessible recreational facilities, kids turn to technology gadgets as their only form of recreation. Thereby, contributing to the obesity crisis. One solution to this problem is by parents incorporating physical activities into their kid’s daily lifestyle at a young age. Children’s tend to learn and imitate the actions of their parents, so parents adding some form of physical activities into their daily routine and encouraging the kids to join would account for some form of physical activity daily.
The obesity crisis also has a direct connection with our school system. Schools are not introducing the activity to kids at a young age. Most of the physical activities in schools that are taken by the gym departments are not geared towards satisfying all the needs of the students. Many students may not like some of the activities and therefore may not be willing to participate. Sometimes too, kids might get laughed at when trying some of these activities and might decide to withdraw. One way to help ease these problems is to ensure that there are enough activities for all the different students. Also, ensuring that gym teachers convey the message and benefits to the kids in such a way that they don’t feel inferior or anyway intimidated. Schools should be mandated to encourage walking to school rather than biking.