Childhood Obesity Research Paper

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Childhood Obesity
Christina Hunt
Mastering College Writing II ENGL1020
Dr. Jane Watkins
June 25, 2012

Childhood obesity has increased to epidemic levels over the past two decades. Twenty-five percent of American kids are overweight and eleven percent are considered obese. Children who are overweight or obese are known to have significant physical and psychological health complications. Some contributing factors to the disease are environmental factors, lifestyle preferences, and cultural. Almost all researchers agree that prevention could be the key strategy for controlling the current epidemic of obesity. Until now, most approaches have focused on changing the behaviour of individuals in diet and exercise. These strategies alone have had little impact on the growing increase of the obesity epidemic. Lifestyle change along with prevention however, does. Children should be the top priority of the population for intervention strategies. Prevention may be achieved through a variety of interventions targeting built environment, physical activity, and diet. Some of these potential strategies for intervention in children can be implemented by targeting preschool institutions, schools or after-school care services as natural setting for influencing the diet and physical activity. All in all, there is an urgent need to initiate prevention and treatment of obesity in children (Akhtar-Danesh, 2005).

Childhood Obesity According to the American Heart Association, approximately one in three children ranging from ages six to nineteen suffer from obesity. This irrefutable truth poses a great health concern for our youth. Evidence-based prevention of childhood obesity requires the identification of modifiable risk factors," said Dr. Stettler. "Because obesity is difficult to treat once it has been established, obesity prevention during childhood is an essential component of the efforts to combat this global epidemic" (Philadelphia, 2004). Researchers defined obesity using both skin fold thickness and body mass index (BMI) to provide a more direct assessment of overweight status. Body Mass Index is a measure of weight in relation to height that is used to determine weight status. A childs weight status is determined based on age and sex specific percentile BMI. Values from the CDC growth charts are used to screen children and adolescents for obesity. Children and adolescents are defined as overweight when they rank at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile. Children and adolescents are defined as obese when they rank at or above the 95th percentile. The American Heart Association reports that obesity in children has tripled since the 1960’s and it is estimated that 80% of American children eat more than the recommended daily intake of fat? Alarmingly, the number of obese children has tripled to 16% over the last twelve years. Lack of activity and fatty foods are the leading cause of childhood obesity. This is fueled to a large extent by the introduction of home computers, video games, and now the ever prevalent mobile phone. And as if having devices in the homes for children to vegetate with wasn’t enough, there are now portable games, computers, books, etc. This drop in the level of activity means that many kids are no longer taking advantage of their own natural ability to burn off the calories that they gain from eating. It is estimated that children in the United States are spending 25% of their waking hours watching television and statistically, children who watch the most hours of television have the highest incidence of obesity (Robinson, 2001). Another factor to note in the obesity epidemic is change in familial status. Over the last couple of decades there has been an increase in the number of dual income families. Additionally, the number of women entering the workforce, and the number of women serving as the sole