childhood obesity Essay

Submitted By granti1
Words: 2445
Pages: 10

Childhood obesity is a serious growing epidemic, affecting all people regardless of race ethnicity, family income, or locale. The percentage of overweight children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity in America has tripled and now nearly one in three children is overweight or obese. (1). The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic Communities, where nearly forty percent of the children are overweight or obese.(1) Research shows that 21.2 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are already obese or overweight. This percentage more than doubled during the last three decades. Additionally, the obesity rate for children ages 6 to 11 quadrupled from 4.2 to 19.6 percent. During this same period, the rate for adolescents ages 12 to 19 tripled from 4.6 to 18.1 percent. (2) These numbers are astonishing. If we don’t work to resolve childhood obesity, more children will chronic obesity related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma. These numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly forty percent of the children are obese or overweight. (2) Childhood obesity is more common among certain racial and ethnic groups than others. Some populations are more unlikely to be obese or live in unhealthy environments. Low income people, blacks, Latinos, and those living in the South are more affected by obesity than their peers. (2) Obesity rates are highest among non-Hispanic black girls and Hispanic boys. Obesity is very common among American Indian/Native Alaskan children. A study of four year olds found that obesity was more than two times more common among American Indian/Native Alaskan children (31%) than among white (16%) or Asian (13%) children. (14)Many of these communities have less access to supermarkets and high poverty communities are less likely to have places like parks and bike paths where children can be physically active. Part of helping children make healthier choices is providing resources to direct families on the right path. Preventing children from becoming overweight means adapting the way families eat and exercise. Helping children lead healthy lifestyles start by educating their parents who can lead by example. So what constitutes obesity? Childhood obesity is a disorder where a child has too much unnecessary fat. Childhood obesity is defined as a person that has a body mass index that is above the 95th percentile. That is, the child is considered obese if his or her weight is 20% or more above the normal weight for a child of that age. (3) Because body fat is difficult to measure directly, obesity is often measured by body mass index (BMI). BMI is a scientific way to screen for whether a person is under weight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. Today, children experience a very different lifestyle than they did in the past. In the past, children walked to and from school, ran around at recess, and played for hours outside after school. Now, children ride buses to school, gym and recess has been cut from school programs, and afternoons are spent watching TV, playing video games, and on the computer. Parents are on the go and too busy to cook. Thus meals consist of either fast food or microwave dinners. If we don’t work to put a stop to the alarming rise in obesity among children, we will not only have obese children, but obese adults as well. Approximately 80% of overweight children become overweight and obese adults. (4) Weight issues are set early and they can lead to struggles with weight and related diseases for a lifetime. Many overweight children suffer from medical and self-esteem issues. Some even suffer from psychological effects. Obesity increases the risk of serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These health conditions were once considered adult diseases. Obese