A “Big” Problem: The Causes, Effects, and Prevention of Childhood Obesity Childhood obesity is not just an issue in the United States- it is an epidemic. The number of overweight and obese children in America has increased very rapidly over the past years, and we can’t slower it down unless we do something about it. A fast-food craze has started in the United States, consequentially leaving a trail of poor nutrition in its wake. Fast-food corporations seem to be encouraging children to consume regular amounts of unhealthy foods by giving away toys with the purchase of a child’s meal. Televisions, computers, and video games, which are considered to be technological necessities, have begun to cloud the importance of exercise. These influences can lead to childhood obesity, which approaches with an overwhelming abundance of negative effects. Obesity puts children at a high risk of developing many serious illnesses. Not only do children who are obese have unhealthy weights, but they also have a high risk of having weak lungs, poor blood quality, and a variety of other sicknesses. Despite the many obstacles, there are ways to slow, if not halt, the outbreak that is childhood obesity. Prevention can be achieved by following a balanced diet and by participating in a healthy amount of physical activity. There are a great deal of causes and negative effects of obesity in children, but fortunately there are also ways to hinder or even discontinue the spread of this crisis.
Children are considered obese if they have a body mass index greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for their age (Bell). There are many causes for children being at or above this percentile. The main causes of childhood obesity are poor nutrition and lack of exercise. When unhealthy, fatty or sugary foods are consumed along with deficient amounts of exercise, obesity is usually the outcome. Eating high-calorie foods regularly like fast foods, baked goods and vending machine snacks increases weight (Mayo Foundation). Research shows that almost one-third of U.S. children between ages four and nineteen eat fast food every day; resulting in a weight gain of about six extra pounds each year, per child (NACHRI). Fast food consumption has increased fivefold among children since 1970. Because of the abundance and availability of unhealthy foods, children are prone to becoming overweight or obese when their eating habits are not balanced with a sufficient amount of physical activity. Technological luxuries such as televisions, computers, and video games can also contribute to childhood obesity.
Martin, Daniel. “Treat child obesity as neglect, say doctors.” Mail Online 2007. Associated Newspapers Ltd. 17 November 2008. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-461876/Treat-child-obesity-neglect-say-doctors.html> In United States, the average child spends over three hours each day watching television (eMedicineHealth). This is time that could be spent participating in outdoor activities such as riding a bike, roller-skating, or playing soccer. Emotional issues are another cause of childhood obesity. Obesity can result from low self-esteem, depression, or dramatic life events. Dramatic events in the lives of some children such as deaths in the family, the divorce of parents, or moving to another home can also lead to overeating. Some children overeat as a way of coping with problems in their lives or dealing with emotions like stress or boredom (Mayo Foundation). Lack of financial resources can lead to childhood obesity as well. Children raised in low-income backgrounds have a greater risk of becoming obese (Mayo Foundation). Poverty may inhibit some parents from being able to provide their children with exercise and a proper nutritional diet due to a lack of time or money. Childhood obesity is thought to not only result from emotional problems, poor nutrition, or lack of financial resources, but also from