Take a look around you the next time you walk into a shopping centre, the next time you walk into a super market or anywhere what you will see is what seemingly has become the new trend in children shockingly research carried out by the telegraph revealed that in the UK one in 5 children are obese by the time they leave primary school. Childhood obesity is a major problem not only nationally locally as well. Obesity is a doorway to other major issues children suffer from in today’s society such as bullying, and is a major contributor to other health problems that coincide with being obese.
Obesity is, easily, America’s fastest growing health concern. This condition, though, is not limited to American adults. Doctors have recently found that nearly thirteen percent of all American children suffer from this problem… and that statistic seems to rise each year.
Understanding the jump in childhood obesity rates is directly linked to understanding obesity itself. The American Academy of Pediatricians defines childhood obesity as occurring in kids who have a BMI of more than 30. Other institutions, though, suggest that a child whose body weight is at least 20% higher than a child of a similar height is obese. No matter what the exact definition, obesity is, simply, excess body fat.Why, though, is obesity such a concern? I mean, hey, an extra Twinkie or two can’t really harm a kid, can it? Actually, yes, it can.
Obesity cannot only increase the risk of psychological problems in kids, such as eating disorders, depression, and anxiety problems, it can also put them at risk for all sorts of physiological problems including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, forty-five percent of all new cases of juvenile type-II diabetes are obesity linked.
Childhood obesity increases the risk of orthopedic problems. Because kids are forced to carry extra weight that their bone structures simply cannot handle, bowed legs and arthritis are increasingly present. Obese kids also have more skin disorders than children of a healthy weight. Obesity increases the skin area subject to folds, which, in turn, increases problems like heat rash and dermatitis. All of this can create serious problems for the child and for our health care system. In 1979, hospital costs associated with childhood obesity were $35 million. At the end of the decade, they had risen to $127 million.
Some may suggest that the rise in childhood obesity rates is due to naturally occurring medical conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Syndrome. Each child who demonstrates symptoms of obesity should be carefully evaluated by a medical professional for these conditions, although most doctors suggest that the occurrence of these problems in children is quite low, and the obesity epidemic is linked to more serious societal problems like low physical activity levels and poor eating habits.
There is little doubt that childhood obesity rates are on the rise, and treatments for the problem may be simpler than you think. The best treatment for the problem, on a societal level, is prevention.
This can be accomplished by increasing the number of mothers who breastfeed their babies, thereby delaying the introduction of solid foods to six months of age, limiting the television and video game intake of toddlers and older kids alike, providing healthy, low-fat nutritious snacks and meals for kids of all ages, and creating family exercise plans.
If obesity is already present, treatment should include a manageable weight loss plan, behavior modification therapies, nutrition counseling, and an exercise plan.
Childhood obesity is on the rise, and clearly, everyone is at risk from the effects of this devastating condition. This “unknown” problem in America needs attention. Our children are our future, so it is unacceptable to put them at risk for obesity and the health problems associated with being overweight.
By advocating healthy diets, exercise, and education, the rapid increase in childhood obesity throughout the country can be ended.