ENG 122 English Composition II
August 13, 2012
Understanding the Causes and Effects of Childhood Obesity
Is it difficult to escape the fate of becoming obese with high calorie foods and snacks available around every corner at vending machines, fast food restaurants, convenience stores and even at home? There is much controversy on obesity being a choice rather than an uncontrollable lifestyle. How does obesity occur? What are the causes and effects of childhood obesity? Examining the causes, factors, consequences, effects and treatment of obesity will help people understand how to prevent this epidemic from spreading.
The simple and short way to define obesity is having excess body fat. To determine if an individual is overweight, a measurement is calculated by the use of a body mass index (BMI). According to the World Health Organization, a measurement of one’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of one’s height in meters determins body mass index. An individual is considered obese if they possess a body mass index of at least 30 kilograms per square meter. Morbid obesity is defined as possessing a body mass index of at least 40 kilograms per square meter. In specific to children, “overweight can be defined as a body mass index greater than the 85th percentile for children of the same age and sex, and obesity can be defined as a body mass index of greater than the 95th percentile for children of the same age and gender” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005).
Childhood obesity is a health risk that is sweeping us worldwide. Children are supposed to grow out of baby fat, not grow into it. According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2009-2010, the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. Among children and teens, ages two to nineteen years, almost seventeen percent are considered obese. “In addition, there has been a marked increase in rates of morbid obesity; the prevalence rose threefold between 1990 and 2000” (Kehle, Benas, Friedman, 2004 2.2).
Children today are less active than their past relatives, but it is not entirely their fault. With the way technology has exploded parents do not see a need for kids to be playing in the streets when they can simply just stay indoors where it is safe. Also, with the amount of schools cutting back on physical eduacation programs it is difficult for children to get the physical activity that they need. A national survey reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that twenty percent of children in the United States ages eight to sixteen are vigorously active only twice a week or less. Instead of getting the recommended 60 minutes of moderate activity a day, many children spend many hours a day watching television or playing video and computer games.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also reported that more than twenty-five percent of all eight to sixteen year old children watch at least four hours of television daily and those children are more likely to become obese than children who watch less than two hours of television a day. Another study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that the rate of obesity rose two percent among twelve to seventeen year olds for every additional hour spent watching television. More research and studies conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that the risk of being overweight is more than four times greater in children who watch more than five hours of television daily compared with those who watch two hours or less. It seems as though just having a television in the bedroom is associated with being overweight. In addition to the inactivity with increased television viewing, the exposure of food commercials for high-calorie, unhealthy products serves as a factor for weight gain among