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Nutrition and Obesity in Children Between 7 And 12 YearsResearch Paper

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Nutrition and Weight Status

The last few decades have seen food become more accessible to a larger number of people since food prices have decreased substantially in relation to income. Moreover, the notion of 'food' seems to have changed from a mere means of sustenance to an indicator of lifestyle as well as a source of pleasure. Poor nutrition results in a number of issues in children and adolescents, such as too much weight gain and obesity. Childhood obesity can in turn be a precursor to many health problems, from Type II diabetes to heart disease to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Childhood obesity is becoming a serious health issue in the U.S. Children and adolescents obesity are associated with a significant economic impact to the U.S. health care system (Wang et al., 2013).

This paper will look into nutrition and weight status, specifically, obesity in children.

Obesity in Children

Literature Review

Overweight has been described as an excess of body weight for any given height, owing to factors like fat, bone, muscle, and water. On the other hand, obesity denotes excessive body fat. Both the above conditions stem from "calorific imbalance" -- extremely few calories burned up for the number of calories ingested -- and are influenced by several genetic, environmental, and behavioral elements (Childhood Obesity Facts, 2015).

Obesity implies the presence of excessive body fat, and differs from overweight, which only implies weighing a lot. Both these expressions are used for individuals who weigh much more than what is deemed healthy for their respective heights. The growth rate of children varies; therefore, one cannot easily guess whether a child is overweight or obese (Obesity in Children: MedlinePlus, 2015).

As many as one in every five U.S. children is obese or overweight; this figure is rising continually. Children suffer from fewer weight-linked medical and health issues than adults. But kids who are overweight are greatly at risk of growing into overweight teens and adults, and are subsequently vulnerable to acquiring chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes mellitus and heart disease). Further, they are more susceptible to developing poor self-esteem, stress, and depression (Benaroch, 2014).

Increase in physical activity may not offset the energy rich, and poor nutritive diet. Usually it takes 1 to 2 hours of intense activity in order to offset a single large-sized (i.e., >=785 kcal) meal for children in fast food restaurants. With frequent intake of such a meal, it is difficult for an average child to counteract it (Dehghan, Akhtar-Danesh & Merchant, 2005). Obesity arises from a number of factors, such as behavioral, social, biological, environmental and economic as well as the intricate interactions between them. However, currently the way these factors interact to affect disparity in children obesity in the U.S. is poorly understood. Nevertheless, studies suggest that a number of factors interact such as: individual factors (like genetics), home influences (like parenting), school factors (like nutrition service), factors in the local community (like food environment), and regional as well as national levels (like economic factors such as food prices) (Wang et al., 2013).

Childhood obesity is characterized by a number of intermediate as well as long-term health consequences. Obese children and adolescents face greater risk in health problems when compared with normal weight children. Obese children and adolescents face the likelihood of being obese when they are adults. Obesity is considered a risk factor associated with a number of chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, arthritis and some cancers. In addition, obesity increases mortality. Children and adolescents obesity are associated with a significant economic impact to the U.S. health care system. Obesity in children within the U.S. accounts for an estimated $11 billion in children who use private insurance and another $3 billion for children using Medicaid. Health care costs associated with obese children are estimated to be 3 times higher compared to average children because they are 2 to 3 times likely to get hospitalized and more likely to have health disorders compared to non-obese children. In addition, when obesity has developed, it is difficult to treat. Childhood obesity is becoming a serious health issue in the U.S. Data collected from 2007 to 2008 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that approximately 17% of children and adolescents in the U.S. aged between 2 and 19 years old are obese. Moreover, the rate of obesity increased to 10.4% from 5% in children aged 2-5 years and increased to 19.6% from 6.5% in children aged 6-11 years (Wang et al., 2013).

Obese kids are vulnerable to several health conditions, which include:

High blood pressure

High cholesterol

Diabetes mellitus

Premature heart disease

Skin problems like heat rash, acne, and fungal infections

Bone problems (Benaroch, 2014).

Causes of Obesity in Children

The condition, obesity, is perplexing in several ways. How the human body regulates body fat and weight hasn't been clearly understood. Obesity's cause seems to be straightforward for the reason that, if an individual's calorie consumption level is greater than the amount he/she burns up, a weight gain will ensue. Determinants of obesity, however, may be a composite blend of genetics, lifestyle choices, metabolic factors, socioeconomic factors, and other factors. A person's weight may be strongly influenced by specific endocrine disorders, medications, and diseases (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Factors Which May Influence the Occurrence of Obesity Include, but Are Not Limited to, the Following:

Genetics: It has been indicated through research that individuals may inherit a tendency for obesity. While researchers have detected numerous genes that seem to have an association with obesity, a majority of them are of the view that a lone gene cannot be held accountable for the overall obesity outbreak. Most ongoing and future studies attempt to better comprehend the role of gene variations' interaction with the constantly transforming environment in obesity development (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Metabolic Factors: Different individuals' bodies expend energy differently. Hormonal and metabolic factors differ for each individual. Nevertheless, they contribute in determining gain of weight. Recent research depicts that ghrelin levels (ghrelin is a peptide that regulates appetite), as well as levels of other peptides within the stomach, contribute to eliciting both hunger and satiety (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Socioeconomic Factors: A strong link exists between obesity and economic status, particularly in females. Poor women with lower social standing are more prone to obesity than those whose socioeconomic standing is better. Obesity is most prevalent in minority communities, particularly among minority-group females (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Lifestyle Choices: Sedentary living, accompanied by overeating, is also an obesity factor. These lifestyle choices can be influenced by a behavior modification. A diet saturated with high calorie percentage that comes from highly fatty, sugary, and refined foods triggers weight gain. Further, individuals eating on the move typically select beverages and foods that are high in calories. Absence of regular exercising is another factor in adulthood obesity, making weight-loss maintenance hard. Among children, inactivity (for instance, being glued to the TV or a computer), promotes obesity development (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Health Effects of Childhood Obesity

Obesity in childhood has short- as well as long- run impacts on children's general well-being and health.

Immediate Health Effects:

Obese youngsters are more prone to having cardiovascular disease risk factors, (like, high blood pressure or high cholesterol). In one population-based youth sample (comprising children/teens aged between 5 and 17 years), 70% of the sample had no less than one cardiovascular disease risk factor. Obese teens will more likely have symptoms of pre-diabetes, which is a condition wherein level of glucose in the blood stream indicates high risks for diabetes mellitus development. Obese kids and teens are more at risk for joint/bone complaints, psychological and social issues (like low self-worth and stigmatization), and sleep apnea (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Long-Term Health Effects:

Obese children and teenagers will likely remain obese after entering adulthood; hence, they are at increased risks of adult health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and many forms of cancer. One research work portrayed that toddlers who turned obese by the tender age of 2 years were more susceptible to adulthood obesity (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Obesity and overweight are linked to heightened risks for various forms of cancer, which include cancer of the pancreas, breast, kidney, colon, esophagus, endometrium, cervix, ovary, gall bladder, prostate and thyroid, in addition to Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma (Marianne, & Niya, 2015).

Stigmatization of childhood obesity: Obese kids are often discriminated on account of body image, resulting in a likely challenge for such children to be willing to choose healthy programs. Stigmatization by peers and others assumes the shape of a mental obstacle, resulting in food phobia and negative body image (Karnik, & Kanekar, 2012).

How to Diagnose Obesity

Doctors diagnose obesity. Obesity among teenagers is often defined by using BMI or body mass index. There are two categories defined, namely:

1. BMI at or above 95th percentile for gender and age, or of over 30 (whichever value is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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