Parents Food Preference in Childhood Obesity Essay

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Parents Food Preference in Childhood Obesity
Samantha Chan
ENG 122: English Composition II
Instructor Holly Wilcox
October 10, 2011

Parents Food Preference in Childhood Obesity Childhood obesity is one of the growing health concerns in young children because it can lead to many chronic diseases if being ignored. Obese children are at risk of developing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems, liver and digestive problems (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). In the past thirty years, there is a large percentage of increase in childhood obesity. Approximately 17% or 12.5 million of children and adolescents who ranges from 2-19 years old are obese (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). One of the key contributing factors in childhood obesity is parent’s food preference since parents have a very close relationship with their children. Parent’s food preference may be influenced by their ethnic background, lifestyle, eating behavior, and food advertisements. For these reasons, it has been suggested that parents with poor food preference on a regular basis have a direct impact on childhood obesity because the type of food they choose for their children. In today’s multicultural society, ethnic background has an effect in childhood obesity. According to Ogden, Carroll, & Flegal (2008), there has been a major increase in childhood obesity population; especially in African American, Hispanic, and Native American (as cited in Sealy, 2010, p. 1). This is usually because parents with different ethnic backgrounds might prefer to use a certain type of ingredient or cooking method to prepare their meals. For many African Americans and Hispanics, the primary ingredients used in majority of their cooking are salt, sugar, and oil. As identified by Hudson (2008) & Walker-Sterling (2005), using substantial amount of salt, sugar, and the cooking method of frying with oil are contributing factors for increase in obesity and health problems (as cited in Sealy, 2010, p. 6). For example, large number of African Americans favors mostly fast food, juices, and carbonated drinks that are high in sugar (Talpade, 2006). Likewise, Hispanics would mainly choose to use lard in their traditional cooking instead of vegetable or olive oil and consume mostly soda instead of milk (Gurulé, 2010). Due to the accustomed hereditary cooking style and eating habits that a specific ethnic group has, it is difficult for these parents to alter their ways of food preparation for the next generation. Parents who are employed full time are often overwhelmed by stress and long hours at work. In addition to their job responsibilities, they also handle household tasks and childcare duties (Sealy, 2010). Because of their busy lifestyles and schedule, the most preferable meals for these parents would generally include foods that are quick, affordable, and easy to access. To save time and hassle, parents might also prefer to dine out instead of cooking meals at home due to the available options and conveniences. The most common dining out options are usually fast food restaurants. Between 1977 and 2006, the number of calories consumed in restaurants increased from 23.4 percent to 33.9 percent. This increase had suggested more parents are preferring fast and convenient eating out options instead of cooking at home (Reinberg, 2011). However, many of these meals are usually either processed or high fat food with little or no nutritional values (Sealy, 2010). For some restaurants, healthy alternatives are available on the menu; however, these items are not commonly intended to target the children (Schwartz & Puhl, 2003). For some parents, they have a tendency to feed their children not because they are hungry, but as a routine behavior to do so. In some ethnic cultures, it is believed that chubby baby is a sign of healthiness or promotes frequent feeding to