Influence of Race, Ethnicity and Culture on Childhood Obesity: Implications of Treatment and Prevention.
Eng. 122: English Composition II
Childhood Obesity 2
What is the relationship between childhood obesity and race, ethnicity, and culture and how relevant are the strengths and weaknesses of the treatments and preventions that are available for childhood obesity. This issue is very important for the health and lives of our youth. As the authors stated in the article Clinical Pediatrics, (2004). “Obesity is a serious health problem, and is becoming increasingly common in affluent societies. In 1998, an Expert Committee published guidelines regarding obesity evaluation and treatment”. “The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically over a relatively brief period, and the alteration in lifestyle among susceptible individuals may play an important role in this global tendency”. Childhood obesity is increasing in all ethnic and racial groups, but its prevalence is higher in nonwhite population. It is said that the reasons for the differences in prevalence of childhood obesity is very complex among these groups. Some of the reasons involve genetics, physiology, culture, socioeconomic status (SES), environment and interactions. These variables and some others that are not fully recognized plays an important role in understanding the influence on the patterns of eating and physical activity that lead to obesity will be critical to developing public policies and effective clinical interventions to prevent and treat childhood obesity. (Influence of Race…2008). Race has traditionally been used to categorize populations on the basis of shared biological characteristics such as genes, skin color, and other observable features. Ethnicity is used to categorize on the basis of cultural characteristics such as shared language, ancestry, religious traditions, dietary preferences, and history. Although ethnic groups can share a range of phenotypic characteristics due to their shared ancestry, the term is typically used to highlight cultural and social characteristics instead of biological ones, mainly because it’s hard to
Childhood Obesity 3 distinguish between who is characterized as what, and what ethnic group a person may belong to because of the increasing number of U.S. population identifying themselves as “mixed” or “other.” Nevertheless, the social importance given to these arrangements to describe groups that have been treated in similar ways based on presumed biological characteristics, as well as the acknowledgment that such classifications themselves have contributed to inequalities in health and health care access, necessitates that we continue to use the terms race and ethnicity. Shaping America's Health and the Obesity Society convened a consensus development conference on the 9-11 of April 2008, to address the evidence base and gaps in knowledge in this area. Following presentations by invited speakers and in-depth discussions, a seven-member panel of experts in pediatric endocrinology, cardiology, gastroenterology, nutrition, epidemiology, and anthropology developed this consensus statement on the influence of race, ethnicity, and culture on childhood obesity, addressing the various questions, such as “What are the prevalence, severity, and consequences of childhood obesity across race/ethnicity in the U.S.? “How might socioeconomic factors influence racial/ethnic differences in childhood obesity”? Despite efforts by government and public health officials, researchers, health care providers, and the media to bring attention to this growing health problem, the number of overweight and obese youth continues to increase. About 110 million children worldwide are now classified as overweight or obese. Even in some developing countries, where under nutrition has traditionally been