Term Paper: Childhood Obesity and Its Affects

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[. . .] Among all teens, low levels of self-esteem were linked with feelings of loneliness, sadness, and nervousness. This often led the obese children to use tobacco and alcohol. Psychiatrists also said that parents who insist on strict diets might be contributing towards a poor self-image as the child may be feeling that he or she is incapable of running his or her life. (Obesity plus Low Self-Esteem May Lead to Risky Behavior in Teens)

There are also differences that are found in different studies of such children, but what we have to note are the common factors. There was a study of 1,000 mostly white children of the ages from nine to 16 living in a rural North Carolina region. This region has childhood obesity at a level three times more than in the entire country. The children under the study were assessed yearly over an eight-year period in order to understand about weight, height, psychiatric disorders, and tendencies towards mental disorders. Chronic childhood obesity was found to be associated with a greater chance of depression in boys and hostile and defiant behavior in both the sections of boys and girls. At the same time, it did not show to enhance the risk of substance abuse, attention deficit disorder, chronic anxiety, or other psychological difficulties. (Mental Illness Common in Childhood Obesity; Defiance, Depression Cited in Study)

Child obesity and learning problems

Studies among boys have shown that intelligence test score and educational level are less for higher levels of obesity. A study conducted by Lissau and Sorensen evaluated as to whether difficulties in the learning are being linked to overweight and obesity. In the year 1974, weight, height and social background were analyzed for Copenhagen boys who were being 987 randomly chosen and for every child, information relating to learning problems, reduced hearing, speech problems, was being collected. (Lissau, I; Sorensen, T.I. 1993, p. 170) This was the basis of the study, but one should note that there are many other factors, which were involved, and on the basis of this study it is difficult to come to a firm decision.

That view is supported by another study, which found an important test score gap in math and reading between the overweight and normal children at baseline and, even in follow up observations as both groups increase similarly over a period of time. The differences, other than for boy's math scores at baseline, are less important when socioeconomic and behavioral variables are being considered. The findings show that overweight is a sign, but not a reason for impacting academic performance. Further race, ethnicity and mother's education are strong causes of test score gains. However, even though the important variations in test scores by means of overweight can be reasoned with other features, like parental education and the environment at home, students more easily observe the characteristics of being overweight than other socioeconomic features, and its link with poor academic performance contributes to the stigma of overweight even in the first years of elementary schooling. (Datar; Sturm; Magnabosco, 2004, p. 58)

Performance in school requires a certain degree of mental peace and that is difficult to achieve when a person is obese. There is a reduced interest in school due to the hopelessness and frustration and anger envelope the child. Often this hopelessness and frustration about weight along with that of anger and hatredness, which is toward those who tease them or those, who pass comments at them, which make them seem small in the student community. Healthy and significant weight loss can bring about hope, self-respect, and better outlook for the future. (Is there a connection between my child's weight and poor performance in school?) The problems of obesity lead to a disturbance of mental peace and these lead to the development of difficulties in concentration. When disturbances take place, it does not remain confined only to the immediate matter of concern, but spreads to all activities, and that is the reason for the effect on studies.

In a study conducted by Richard Strauss on childhood obesity and its consequences for self-esteem a sample of a total of 1520 children who were between 4 and 5 years of age and born to mothers in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth were being collected. The sample made the survey easier to conduct, and the important matter is that scholastic and global self-esteem were not very different among the obese and other children at the beginning of the study. Then the study continued and during the course of the 4-year period, both white and Hispanic females showed a growing tendency of lower self-esteem. This was in comparison to others who were not obese. The tendency was the same among boys also, but the decreases were not to the same levels. This continued and by the time the group reached 8 to 9 years of age, there were significantly low levels of self-esteem as could be seen in obese boys, obese Hispanic girls, and obese white girls when they were compared with their counterparts with normal builds. (Strauss, Richard S. 2000, p. e15)

This decrease in levels of self-esteem in obese children was combined with highly increased rates of sadness, loneliness, and nervousness. This was particularly noticeable when they were compared with other obese children whose self-esteem increased or remained unchanged. Thus this drop in self-confidence is not a universal phenomenon that occurs for every body, and should be studied in terms of parental characteristics to have been passed on to them. In addition, obese children with decreasing levels of self-esteem over the 4-year period had also more chances to smoke and drink alcohol in comparison to other obese children whose self-esteem enhanced or remained unchanged. (Strauss, Richard S. 2000, p. e15) While these are all interesting results of a study, it should be seen whether the changes came about from family influences or was only due to obesity.

Child obesity and peer group problems

Obesity is a situation causing difficulties for children and every social situation may be embarrassing for the child with excess weight. Overweight children cannot manage their lives very well as the present culture is about being slim. These children generally have low activity levels; they generally do not participate in sports; their social circles tend to be much more restricted than normal; they often view their bodies as being unacceptable to society. They have taken the question of being slim into their hearts. (Is there a connection between my child's weight and depression?) They also have solutions available to them of going into gymnasiums, which are now available in every street corner, but were not available earlier in such profusion. When the child has to appear in gym classes or public swimming pools, and there they have to wear more revealing clothing there is potential for embarrassment. Any obese child deciding to play competitive sports often suffers the humiliation of being considered to be the last one chosen for the team. (Weight can Damage Self-Esteem) In some cases, the direct examples of children can be seen, and let us say, one Kyle is being found outside on the school playground along with other 4-year-old children of the school. He is standing towards one side and watching other children longingly as they try climbing over the wooden ladder, tries to crawl through the tunnels, trying to hang from that of the monkey bars, and tries to glide down through the slide. Then a teacher persuades him and Kyle tries to join in. In spite of his efforts he has problems in trying to keep up with the other children. Then he repeatedly tries to climb the wooden ladder, but does not succeed and at this some of the children laugh. One child yells out, "My brother says you are fat." (Lynn-Garbe; Hoot, 2004, p. 53) This sort of a problem does not have to come from only obesity, but from other defects also, and any physical difficulty will cause a person to be a little afraid and hesitant.

It is clear that overweight and obese primary school-aged children are more likely to be the victims and perpetrators of bullying behaviors than their peers who are of normal weight. As a result, the social and psychological development of overweight and obese youth in the short-term and long-term may be considered to be difficult. (Janssen; Craig; Boyce; Pickett, 2004, p. 1188) The obese children are not capable of fast movement, and this will certainly make them slower than other children and the fright will make them afraid. For this reason acceptance of bullying may seem to them a better alternative.

Certain linkages were found between BMI category and peer victimization. This showed that overweight and obese children had greater chances of being victims of aggression than other children who were of normal weight. Strong and important effects were seen in terms of withdrawing friendship or spreading rumors or lies and even direct forms of effects like name-calling or… [END OF PREVIEW]

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