Childhood Obesity Essay

Submitted By Eporterrn1
Words: 3036
Pages: 13


Childhood Obesity

The rising prevalence of childhood obesity in most developed countries is well recognized, as are the many short- and long-term complications that can occur as a result. Children who carry excess weight have difficulties with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, mobility, joint deterioration, poor physical fitness, difficulties with breathing, and low self-esteem (Tyler & Horner, 2008). Today, 17.1% of U.S. children are obese, meaning they have a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to the 95th percentile. In addition, 16.5% are overweight, meaning their BMI greater than or equal to 85% but less than 95% (Tyler & Horner). The past decade has seen rapid growth in research into various aspects of this epidemic. However, in most countries, there has been a far slower response in terms of the number of funded policies and services aimed at preventing and treating childhood obesity. This matter is very important to me because I recently took my twelve year old daughter to the doctor for her annual well child check and her weight was 199 pounds. When I thought of our daily activities and diet, I realized that her problem is not her diet as much as it is her sedentary lifestyle. This same day, my husband and I went out and bought bikes for the entire family so that we could all take part in a healthier lifestyle. My personal experience has prompted me to address the aspect of physical activity in the management of this disease process. Kids don’t get the same amount of physical activity as they used to. Recesses are shorter, gym classes are often eliminated, favorite television shows are always available, and video games take up time kids once spent playing outside. For these reasons and more, children are burning fewer calories than they used to and gaining more weight than they should. Though treatment of obesity requires a multifaceted approach, becoming a more physically active person is arguably the most important component. To facilitate improved lifestyle choices for children regarding activities chosen and foods consumed, nurses at a community hospital designed and tested a series of three, “Kids Living Fit” (KLF) childhood obesity studies (Speroni, Tea, Earley, Niehoff, & Atherton, 2008). The KLF intervention was a two-pronged program incorporating exercise and nutrition education, focused on best lifestyle choices regarding daily activities chosen and foods consumed. In each of the studies the objective was to determine if the KLF exercise and nutrition program could affect change in participants’ BMI percentile, adjusted for age (months) and gender (Speroni et al.). The study included the following: weekly exercise programs, monthly nutrition education, participant completion of food and activity study diaries, the wearing of pedometers, BMI and waist circumference measures in children 8-12 years of age who were determined to be “at risk” (BMI 85th-94th percentile) or overweight children (BMI > 95th percentile). (Speroni et al.). In this study 1-hr exercise sessions were held once a week for 12 consecutive weeks at the hospital. A physical fitness trainer conducted all sessions. The exercise component of the study focused on physical fitness (e.g., aerobic dance, basic muscle groups, stretching, balancing techniques, and heart rate monitoring associated with exercise), yoga, and relaxation techniques (e.g., meditation, breathing) (Speroni et al., 2008). During the exercise sessions, the trainer also addressed lifestyle choices. Healthier lifestyle choices were reinforced by encouraging participants to select more active behaviors compared to sedentary choices (Speroni et al.). The results of this study showed that the KLF intervention was effective in decreasing BMI and waist circumference in children both “at risk”