Epidemic: Childhood Obesity

 

Obese children eating McDonalds

In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. In fact, in the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled.1 Nowadays, with society being focused on their high-pace, busy and fun lifestyles, home cooked meals are being replaced with fast food. Actually, kids are malnourished and under exercised. This causes high child obesity rates in countries such as, Canada and America. In addition, the media also contributes to this crisis. Obesity, which is the condition of having an excessive amount of body fat, is rapidly becoming a problem especially for children in Western society. It also poses many health risks, but fortunately there are possible ways to be able to prevent and hopefully extinguish this epidemic.

Citizens of the Western society are constantly on the go; they do not have time to make nutritional meals every day for their family and children, so they turn to fast food restaurants. Many fast foods are fried, high in fat and sodium, low in fiber, and contain some vitamins and some minerals which are unhealthy for one’s body. Many children consume excessive amounts of fast food on a regular basis which leads to obesity. In fact, every single day, one out of three young people aged four to nineteen eats fast food.2 Undoubtedly, there is a lot of children eating unhealthy food daily. Although tempting, with their mouth-watering, inexpensive products, big portion sizes, and convenience; fast food restaurants are one of the main reasons for childhood obesity. The media is also at fault. Children 8-18 years of age spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using media, including: TV, computers, video games, cell phones, and movies. Of those 7.5 hours, about 4.5 hours is dedicated to viewing TV.3 This means children are exposed to many advertisements on a daily basis, especially for unhealthy food. Also, the amount of time they spend using electronics takes away from their daily physical activity which should be at least an hour a day according to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention.4 Instead of enjoying the outdoors, children are fixated on electronics and exposed to the media which is another basis for childhood obesity. This constitutes many health hazards.

Cycle of Childhood Obesity

 

There are many health and safety risks regarding childhood obesity. For instance: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, asthma, joint problems, musculoskeletal discomfort and diabetes. Obese children could also face discrimination or have low self-esteem. While childhood obesity along with the mental, physical, emotional and health risks are unnecessary, they are preventable.

In order to prevent this problem, a parent or guardian must provide a healthy environment and encourage a healthy lifestyle for their children. This includes healthy meals and snacks, and motivation as well as equipment to exercise or play a sport. If parents cut out all the restaurants, allowed minimal junk food and educated their children about nutrition then it would be easy to avert this condition. In general, the western society needs to change their lifestyles for the sake of the next generation.

Nowadays, a healthy lifestyle is vital for the prevention of childhood obesity. It is up to parents to reduce the amount of time theirs kids are exposed to the media, to educate their children on the importance of physical activity and nutrition and to provide healthy, well balanced meals which excludes fast food restaurants. This should decrease childhood obesity rates which will benefit children and society as a whole.

Footnotes

1 “Childhood Obesity Facts.” Cdc.gov. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, September 15, 2011. Web. November 1, 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm&gt;

2 Stephanie Watson. “Fast Food.” Teen Health and Wellness. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. August 2010. Web. Nov. 1, 2011.

<http://teenhealthfiles.rosenpub.com/articles/fastfood.html&gt;

3 “A Growing Problem.” Cdc.gov. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, April 21, 2011. Web. November 1, 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/problem.html&gt;

4 “How much physical activity do children need?” Cdc.gov. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, April 21, 2011 March 30, 2011. Web. November 1, 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html&gt;

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