Childhood Obesity Rates
Children today seem to be more lethargic than ever. When I was 10 years old, I remember spending my free time outside. I loved playing outside and being active, as did just about every other 10-year-old I knew. Today, the average 10 year old is spending their free time using modern technology, whether that means video games or their mobile device. This means less time spent exercising and more time on the couch. Times have changed, and this is seen in the growth of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is a serious health concern currently on the rise in American culture One is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) exceeds 30. Obesity is harmful to one’s health. It can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, and other health concerns (Froschauer 7). Obesity can be caused by a number of things such as poor eating habits, lack of exercise, family history, medications, overeating, and several other attributes. In the past three decades the rate of obesity in children has risen immensely. In fact, according to Tammy Esteves’ article, the rates of childhood obesity in the U.S. have tripled throughout the past thirty years. Today, nearly one in three children are considered overweight or obese (71). Why have childhood obesity rates increased over the past three decades? Three of the main possible causes for this increase are family demands and eating routines, household income and increased availability of sugary drink options.
Work demands on parents can create a challenge for creating healthy eating routines, both for dual career and single parent families. In the past three decades, more women are employed than ever. In most cases, this creates a dual career family, or a family with two working parents. Dual career families often have to invest in childcare for before or after school or both (Anderson 340). Not all daycares are regulated to provide healthy food options or structured physical activity. Also, after working all day, it can be challenging for two working parents to create healthy eating habits and encourage regular periods of active playtime. (Anderson 340). The same holds true for single-parent families. The challenges can be amplified when the responsibilities fall on the shoulders of one parent. Mealtimes are important when it comes to forming routines. It is also important to take note of what America’s children are routinely being fed. Studies show that families who eat their main meal together four or more times a week are more likely to have children who are average in weight and consume more fruits and vegetables (Fiese 365). In some instances, busy working parents will resort to fast food when in need of a quick and easy meal. Especially in the weakened economy, parents are working longer hours to earn more money and buying fast food not only because it is speedy, but also because it is cheap. Unregulated mealtimes and eating fast food can certainly take a toll on creating healthy habits for families.
Household income also has an enormous effect on childhood obesity. There is a direct correlation between the amount of money a family has and obesity. As the household income decreases, the percentage of overweight and obese children increases (Perpich 30). Unfortunately, the healthiest foods are generally more expensive than junk foods. Several people simply cannot afford to eat healthy because of these high prices. This makes it easier to buy more unhealthy food since it is significantly cheaper. In Tammy Esteves’ article she mentions a woman saying to her friend, “I can buy two boxes of fruit snacks for what it would cost me for one small serving of fruit” (71). This makes it apparent that money plays a big role in the foods American’s consume. Unfortunately, too many Americans cannot afford to eat healthy. “Children residing in lower income communities exhibit poorer dietary and physical