Term Paper: Child Overweight or Obese?

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[. . .] Factors related to the onset of obesity have to affect energy balance. The first place to look when considering the causes of childhood obesity is at that of the child's dietary intake. The first and most popular area on which to focus is fat intake, although the prevalence of fat intake has declined in the last ten to fifteen years. Despite the decline in fat intake, the prevalence of obesity in both the pediatric and adult population has increased substantially. This probably indicates that, unlike other dietary modifications like the addition of iodine to salt, or fluoridation of water, the limitation of fat intake as a method to prevent obesity in children and adults is not effective. The cut back in school budgets resulting in reduction in physical education programs has probably also been an issue. Sources also indicate that the higher number of hours spent by children watching television as well as using computers and other technological toys have contributed the weight gain among children. In addition, snack machines in local schools usually contain fatty foods which contributes to higher caloric intake and leads to obesity in children.

It is noted that children in the United States watch at least 2 hours of television per day. Children who are allowed to watch four or more hours of television per day will more likely have a greater amount of body fat and ultimately a greater body mass index. The television watching is also often associated with snacking, many times on unhealthy snacks. This combination of decreased physical activity as well as increased caloric, fat and carbohydrate intake makes it no surprise that children are overweight. Sugar filled drinks are also likely culprits. Soda consumption has increased from 19 gallons per year per person in 1965 to an amazing 52 or more gallons per year, in what equates to a 174% increase.

So the problem has been defined, but what can be done to improve the living habits and weight problems that plague our children today? Children need to be shown proper role models in manner of exercise and eating. Children who already have a weight problem need to have the weight problem sensitively and appropriately addressed, and a family plan needs to be put into place to address all bad habits that everyone may have. Children can be encouraged to begin exercise programs, starting with walks or runs for twenty to thirty minutes per day. Children should be encouraged to eat more slowly, with emphasis placed on good eating choices, smaller portion sizes and learning how to avoid between meal snacks and stopping eating when they are full. Children should avoid eating in front of the television, since it is difficult to be attuned to body "fullness" cues when preoccupied with a television program. Parents should be prepared to provide healthy snacks whenever possible, changing from an emphasis on chips and candy to healthier foods like fruits and vegetables. While fruit juice is good for the body, juice consists mainly of sugar. Milk, especially fat free or reduced fat milk is one of the healthiest drinks, and don't forget good old water. If sodas are desired, make them a treat rather than the rule and it is good to switch to diet preparations so the amount of sugar intake is decreased. Children must take their healthy diets with them to school. School lunches should be provided that contain representatives from all the food groups, which provides variety and can be enjoyable. Exercise should be done as a family affair. Children are more apt to exercise when they see their parents do the same thing, and leading by example is the best way to give children a healthy lifestyle. Most important of all, when making changes in a child's exercise and diet activities, children must make the change with some choices, and the changes must be slow, steady and consistent. It is not inappropriate that after a health dinner, a child gets a small cookie for dessert to know that they are working hard and doing a good job in limiting their snacks and exercising.


http://members.iglou/dgruth/childobesity.html www.weightlossmd.com/parentingand child obesity.com http://www.geocities.com/nutriflip/Diseases/obesity.html


http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?cu=114994&tcoid=35918&query=obesity&ct [END OF PREVIEW]

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