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Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity In today’s society childhood obesity is considered to be an epidemic. The increase in obesity is not caused by the change in the gene pool, but rather by the change in the environment. This causes vulnerable populations to express the obesity phenotype (Stune, 1999). One in seven children ages 6-17 are considered to be obese. Most nutritionists will say that this is do to the lack of parental guidance.

A child’s parents should teach their child proper eating habits so that they won’t run across problems in the future (Tomlin, 1999). According to the article Facts about childhood Obesity and Overweightness, obese children are statistically not active, and their diets are high in fats and low in energy foods, like carbohydrates . Most doctors will calculate a child’s body mass index (BMI), to figure out just how overweight a child is. If a child’s BMI is over 30, they are considered obese. In order to calculate one’s BMI, you would divide the your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (Mokdad, 1999).

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What causes obesity? Weight gain among children is likely due to a combination of factors including: poor dietary habits, genetic makeup, family lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and a child’s ethnicity. Obesity is more prevalent among Hispanic, African-American and American Indian children, particularly girls ( 1997). Overweight children are not necessarily overeaters. Unfortunately, much of the food they enjoy contains high amounts of calories. A child doesn’t have to eat huge quantities of food to put on excess weight.

An extra 200 calories a day (the amount in four home-made chocolate chip cookies) can cause your child to gain almost one-half pound a week (Miller 3). Childhood Obesity 3 Studies show that children’s excessive consumption of high-calorie soft drinks and fruit beverages may be adding to the problem. The average teen drinks almost 65 gallons of soft drinks annually; school-age children have more than doubled their consumption of these beverages in the past two decades. Children also eat a lot of fast-food, which tends to be high in fat and calories (Miller 5). Inactivity most likely to blame Weight control involves balancing food intake with the energy burned in everyday activities.

Although diet is a factor, low levels of physical activity may play a greater role in childhood obesity than eating lots of high-calorie food. Why are children today less active? Many blame increased television viewing. Watching TV doesn’t require much energy and often is accompanied by snacking on high-calorie foods. The American Heart Association reports that, on average, children watch 17 hours of television a week. And that’s not counting the time spent playing video and computer games. One study found the odds of being overweight were nearly five times greater for youth watching more than five hours of television per day compared with those who watched from zero to two hours per day ( 1997). According to a 1996 U.S. Surgeon General’s report on fitness, nearly half of young people ages 12 to 21 are not vigorously active.

The American College of Sports Medicine reports that, due to financial constraints, only one-third of schools now offer physical education classes and many children today find team sports too competitive or costly to join ( 1997). Childhood Obesity 4 Heredity has strong influence The risk of becoming obese is greatest among children who have two obese parents. Danish adoption records provide a unique perspective on the issue of heredity versus environment when studying obesity in children. Researchers studied 540 adopted Danish children, who are now adults. The scientists wanted to know if weights of the children were closer to their biological or adoptive parents. They found no relationship between the weight of the adoptive parents and adopted children.

But there was a strong link between the weight of the adopted children and their biological parents, even though 90 percent of the children had been adopted before the age of 1 (Miller 10). The researchers concluded that genetic factors are important in determining obesity in adults. And when a genetic tendency is combined with habits that promote weight gain, it’s more likely that a child will be overweight. Important: If obesity is common in your family, pay extra attention to diet and exercise (Miller 11). Effects of Obesity Obesity as a child will lead to health problems in the future as one enters adulthood. Obesity is strongly linked to cardiovascular diseases and Diabetes.

This disorder also will cause some forms of cancer , hypertension, and also Arthritis. Another consequence of obesity is the effects it has on the skin. Cardiovascular disease A major health risk that occurs from obesity is cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that if a child is obese, it will lead into their young adult lives. By being obese at a young Childhood Obesity 5 age it lays the ground work for cardiovascular diseases. There is a close relationship between obesity and cardiovascular disease.

There is a excess of fat circulating in the blood that turns into plaque. This plaque accumulates around an artery to block the flow of blood. In severe cases, the coronary arteries are blocked. These arteries irrigate the heart. Obesity puts a strain on the veins and arteries that are blocked by this plaque build up.

Diabetes Another health risk caused by obesity is diabetes. Obesity increases the risk of non- insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The fat tissue that is amassed has two roles in diabetes. One is the increased demand for insulin and, it also creates insulin resistance in obese individuals. Obesity cause a resistance to insulin that increases the insulin production to compensate the excess of glucose circulating in the blood.

This excess causes damage to beta cells in the pancreas , producing insulin. Cancer With obesity comes increased risks to certain forms of cancer. Young men have a significant higher mortality rate for colorectal and prostate cancer. Menopausal women with high upper body fat localization have an increase risk of developing breast cancer. Women also have a higher risk in getting cancer of tile uterus and ovaries. Hypertension Another cause of obesity is hypertension. Young adults, age 20 – 45, are six times more likely to have hypertension then normal weight peers.

The distribution of fat in the body has an important effect on one’s blood pressure. Upper body fat makes a person more likely to have Childhood Obesity 6 high blood pressure than lower body fat. An accumulation of fat …


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