Over one-half of all Americans are overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight puts you at risk for developing many diseases. Women generally have more subcutaneous fat than men, but appear to suffer a greater cardiovascular risk from a given degree of fat than women.
Obesity is the net result of an excess of energy consumption over expenditure. Factors that must be considered as contributing to causation are: heredity, and altered metabolism of adipose tissue, the list goes on and on. Overeating is clearly a prominent contributor to obesity. Feeding behavior occurs in response to hunger and to appetite induced by the presence of food.
More children today are overweight or obese than ever before. “Overweight” meaning that the individual weighs more than is recommended for a given height. “Obesity” is an excess of body fat. In children obesity has been variously defined as 20% over the recommended weight for height, 85th percentile for body mass index, and 25% of weight as fat for boys and 30% weight as fat for girls.
One of the biggest reasons for all of these overweight and obesity problems is due to physical inactivity. More than half of U.S. citizens do not meet recommended levels of moderate physical activity, and one-fourth engage in no leisure time physical activity at all. Inactivity is more prevalent among those with lower income and education. A pattern of inactivity, also known as sedentism, begins early in life, making the promotion of physical activity among children imperative.
Physical activity has been defined as “bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure”. There is no debate about the value
of physical exertion. Regular physical activity has significant health benefits, and even modest increases in energy expenditure can have health enhancing effects.
The rising rates of obesity and overweight among kids and teens in the U.S. have become a concern for parents and society. Some educators and schools have even begun sending home information to raise family awareness about children’s weight status and the risks of obesity.
Parents who received a health report card were more likely to know whether their child was overweight and to plan medical help, dietary changes, and physical activities for their overweight kids. 91% of the parents who received health report cards requested yearly information about their child; and two-thirds of the parents who did not receive a health report card requested one for their child.
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California assessed risk factors for becoming overweight during childhood. A group of 150 children and their parents participated in the study, which began within days of birth and continued for 9.5 years. Researchers in the study collected information about each child’s birth weight as well as parents weight and height measurements; infant feeding behaviors including whether the infant was breastfed or bottle-fed; and the rate of growth in infancy. In addition, parents noted how much physical activity their child regularly had, the child’s overall temperament, and the length of time the child slept. At 9.5 years of age, 25% of the children were at risk of or already overweight. Several factors were associated with a child’s becoming overweight, including:
 Having a parent who is overweight (this was the strongest risk factor for becoming overweight during childhood)
 Having a sensitive temperament.
 Having parents concerned about child thinness.
 Having lots of tantrums over food.
 Getting less sleep in childhood.
As you have read, obesity is a major problem in society. It is a disease and not a condition with a small number of people. Large portions of people in this country are either overweight or obese and it is not going to be improving any time soon.
Many groups are fighting to get obesity classified as a disease. Some health care companies do consider it a disease and will help people get treatment with their weight problem. That’s a start to help the problem but there are many things yet to be done to control the rampant cases of obesity.
As was discussed, the problem of obesity has become at childhood with improper eating habits and lifestyles with little physical activity. As long as parents do not take the first step in preventing obesity, the problem will grow larger and larger as time goes by. Obesity has become a much larger problem than it was in recent generations. Television, video games, and the Internet have all contributed to the growing numbers of obese people.
I do not see a change in lifestyles anytime soon. Because of this, I fear that the numbers of obese people will continue to grow. Thankfully, there has been some acknowledgement by insurance groups and several doctors that obesity is a disease. As soon as more people are ready to accept that, the more obese people will be able to get help for their condition. With treatment, the numbers of obese people will go down. A lifestyle of more activity will also do wonders in keeping the number of obese children down, therefore fighting the problem before it starts.