Child Obesity Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4679 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Healthcare

Childhood Obesity

TOPIC: Term Paper on Child Obesity Assignment

The problem of overweight children in the United States has increased dramatically in the last several years and some claim has reached near epidemic proportions. The problem has doubled in the past 20 years as the percentage of overweight children has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 15.3% in the year 2000 (Centers for Disease Control, 2000). During the same period, the percentage of overweight adolescents tripled from 5% in 1980 to an alarming rated of 15.5% in 2000 (Centers for Disease Control, 2000). As will be discussed later in this paper, the consequences of this increase in obesity among children will have a significant impact on the health of these children not only presently but also as this generation of children age. Besides the life-threatening health problems that are directly addressed herein there are related other non-life threatening problems such as tooth decay or depression. Studies have been done that show that children who are substantially overweight throughout much of their childhood and adolescence have a higher incidence of depression that those who are not obese (Mustillo, 2003). Although these conditions are not life threatening, they are still significant and cost society millions of dollars every year to treat. Research has also shown a significant connection between obesity and decreased academic performance and an increase in the possibility of being bullied in school (Jannssen, 2004). Although not firmly established, it is believed that obese children, burdened with poor nutrition, inactivity, and related weight problems miss significantly more time from school and, thus, a correlated decrease in academic performance (Schwimmer, 1999). Current estimates have placed the percentage of overweight children at 16% of the total population. These numbers vary between various areas of the country but when examining the overall population obesity is a serious problem among individuals between the ages of 2 to 18 years of age. The problems associated with obesity are numerous and demand immediate attention. How this can best be done will be the purpose of this paper.

In examining the issue of obesity in children a variety of perspectives and disciplines were considered. Childhood obesity is not only a medical problem it is also a social problem with some unique legal overtones. The causes and effects of obesity have far reaching effects on society in general and for this reason the problem must be addressed but for the millions that must deal with the problem on a daily basis the immediacy of the problem is even more important. Every day spent being overweight is one too many and detracts from both the quality and quantity of life. It is not just a personal problem for those afflicted with the problem it is also a societal problem. Obesity reflects upon the type of society that we have created and begs for a solution. A solution grounded in healthy eating habits, proper exercise, and a respect for one another.

The responsibility for addressing the problem of Childhood Obesity is not the exclusive to parents. Because children spend nearly 2,000 hours a year in the classroom, educators share in this responsibility. It is incumbent on the schools to encourage physical activity and attempt to instill healthy nutritional habits in the students. Arguably, the schools are faced with obstacles such as a lack of resources, the demand for higher academic performances, and the availability of foods that comply with higher nutritional standards but such problems can be overcome with political pressure being applied.

Finding a lasting solution for obesity, particularly in children, will have far ranging effects across society as medical costs are lessened; life threatening diseases are eliminated; and the general health of society is enhanced. Turning the tide on this issue benefits everyone and to delay further hurts us all.

1. Problem Defined

Obesity at any age is a serious concern but when it involves children it takes on even more importance. One of the reasons why it takes on more importance in children is the fact that it has grown at an exponential rate in the last few decades. Presently the Center of Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that there are over 9 million overweight children in the United States and that this number has increased tripled in the past 30 years (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). The concern is that these overweight children will develop into overweight adults with estimates. Estimates from the United States Department of Health and Human Services are that 70% of overweight adolescents will become overweight adults. If one adds in the possibility that an overweight adolescent has one or both parents who are overweight and the percentage of an adolescent being overweight as an adult increases to 80% (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2010).

Accompanying the rise in obesity is the rise in diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, like obesity, has increased at epidemic proportions in the United States and there are many who correlate the two conditions. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that 30% of all boys and 40% of all girls born in the United States in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime (Institute of Medicine, 2004). Similarly, these same children face an increased chance of also developing heart disease and, for the first time in our nation's history this group also faces the likelihood of having a lower life expectancy than their parents (Kraak, 2005).

In addition to the commonly known reasons why childhood obesity is a problem there are a number of lesser reasons. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol are problems that are usually associated with much older individuals but obese children are also subject to suffering from both of these conditions. The collateral problems from high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol are life threatening and will only get worse as the overweight children get older.

Sleep apnea, which is the obstruction of the airway during sleep that results in a serous drop in blood oxygen levels) occurs with much greater frequency in obese children. This condition is often associated with nightly bedwetting, difficulty getting up in the morning, poor school performance, and generalized fatigue. This last side effect can further acerbate the situation by making the obese child less apt to be active as he or she lacks the necessary energy.

Beyond the physical problems that have definitely been attributed to obesity in children there are a variety of studies being conducted that suggest that there are a number of additional problems. Some of these studies are investigating the possibility of several bone and joint disorders that may be attributed to obesity. One such disorder is a condition known as "slipped capital femoral epiphysis" which is a slippage of the growth plate in hip bone. The condition can alter a child's growth and result in crippling effects later in life.

Studies are also being conducted relative to the effect that obesity may have on the development of liver and kidney disease, and even a possible increased risk of cancer.

Finally, there is the psychological effect of a child growing up obese. America society places a high value on personal appearance and children can be quite mean to those who are different in some way and obesity certainly characterizes someone as being different. Such characterization can damage one's self-esteem and confidence. Self-image develops when we are young and if one's self-image is of being obese it is difficult to alter this self-image as one grows older leading to continued obesity as one matures (Daniels, 2006).

The effect of obesity on life expectancy was briefly mentioned earlier but it deserves further attention because what it says about our society in general. Life expectancy has been used as a barometer of society's overall health for several centuries. It has been used as a way of our saying to ourselves, "we are progressing." With the rise of obesity, it is entirely possible that the present generation of children will become the first generation to actually live fewer years, on the average, than their parents. This possibility should raise concern among everyone.

There are some related societal problems that are related to obesity in children that deserve attention. The first such problem is the de-emphasis of physical education in our nation's schools. From its apex during the administration of President Kennedy in the early 60s, physical education programs in schools have been on a steady decline. Despite the cries of experts advocating that physical activity is vital for the well-being of school children and that such activity would serve to combat obesity physical education is afforded little consideration in school curriculums. School officials argue that the budgetary considerations make it impossible for them to increase the number of hours put aside for physical education and that it is more important for their schools to concentrate on a rigorous academic curriculum. Quite simply, there is enough time, not even an hour a week, to ensure that the physical health of the students is improved. Data from the Centers for Disease… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Child Obesity" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Child Obesity.  (2011, May 24).  Retrieved November 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Child Obesity."  24 May 2011.  Web.  28 November 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Child Obesity."  May 24, 2011.  Accessed November 28, 2021.