Childhood Obesity One of the Greatest Health Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1969 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 13  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

Childhood Obesity

One of the greatest health risks affecting American youth today is childhood obesity. An individual who is considered obese has a disproportionately large amount of fat stored in the body, beyond the point of simply being overweight. While the definition of exactly how much fat constitutes obesity is still in flux, obesity is having excess weight enough that serious health risks are incurred by the individual. Many health professionals consider the vast amount of overweight people in our country to be of such epic proportions that it is actually known as an epidemic of fat. This condition is especially dangerous to children, and the number of obese children is growing at an alarming rate. Far from just being an issue of aesthetics or conformity, obesity may be the single biggest overall threat to the health of children in developed Western countries. While our popular culture is obsessed with the image of the thin and fabulous, this same culture is breeding generations plagued by obesity and the complications that are associated with this condition. Childhood obesity is a very serious health concern due to the medical risks and social implications, therefore the possible causes of obesity in children should be studied and identified, while a wide range of treatment options should be carefully considered.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Childhood Obesity One of the Greatest Health Assignment

The statistical data that has been collected about childhood obesity is alarming. In the United States, about one in every four children are overweight. ("Facts about childhood..." 1999) the Third National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey has identified obesity as an epidemic in this country, and estimates that 97 million American adults are obese. The number of overweight children (between the ages of six and 17 years old) has doubled in less than 30 years, and the prevalence of overweight in children has increased as much as five percent in only three years. ("Facts about childhood..." 1999) Obesity during childhood is strongly linked to obesity during adulthood, and the risk of obesity for both obese and non-obese children under 10 years old is more than doubled if at least one of the parents of the child is obese. ("Facts about childhood..." 1999) Another factor that influences childhood obesity is the socioeconomic status of the child. White adolescents from poor families have been found to be 2.6 times as likely to be overweight as White adolescents in higher income families. ("Facts about childhood..." 1999) Non-Hispanic, White male children and adolescents are less likely to be overweight as family education levels increase, though this has not been proven true for any other groups. ("Facts about childhood..." 1999) Between the ages of six to 11 years old, Mexican-American males have the highest childhood obesity rates in America at 17%, and African-American females have the second highest childhood obesity rates at 16%. Among children between the ages of 12 and 19 years old, the highest obesity rates are among low-income households regardless of ethnicity at 16%. ("Facts about childhood..." 1999) the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that children of ethnic minority groups are at the highest risk of any groups for developing cardiovascular disease due to obesity. (Davis et al. 2002) the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute also found significant differences regarding the relationship between culture and obesity among children in America; HDL cholesterol levels were highest in African-American children, while Latino children had the highest body mass index levels. (Davis et al. 2002) the National Health and Nutrition Examination found that Black and Mexican-American girls had much higher body mass index levels than White girls. Additionally, Black boys ate far more fat in their diets than White boys, and Black girls had higher blood pressure levels than White girls. (Davis et al. 2002) Children between the ages of 10 to 14 were found to have significantly higher systolic blood pressure and higher body mass in 1996 than in 1986, across all ethnic groups. (Davis et al. 2002) the Mississippi CRRIC found that African-American children were more often in the highest percentiles of high blood pressure and body mass index levels than other children of the same age group. (Davis et al. 2003) if a child reaches the age of six and is obese at that time, the probability that the child will remain obese is over 50%, and between 70 to 80% of obese teenagers will remain obese into adulthood. The risk of continued obesity increases if at least one parent is overweight. (Moran 1999) the cost of obesity is shared by everyone in America, even those without excess weight. "Over $68 billion are spent each year on direct health care related to obesity, representing 6% of total U.S. health care expenditures." ("Facts about childhood..." 1999)

Obesity has been directly linked to a number of serious and often fatal health conditions. "Adult obesity is associated with significant morbidity, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus (formerly known as nonEinsulin- dependent diabetes), hyperlipidemia, hyperuricemia, some forms of cancer (especially colon cancer)." (Moran 1999) the same health conditions that have been proven a danger to obese adults are also a danger to children. Obesity is also a major determinant of adverse serum lipid and lipoproteins, and these along with high blood pressure have been proven a risk for obese children. (Davis et al. 2002) the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel recommends that physicians screen all obese children over two years old for elevated cholesterol because it is considered to be such a dangerous sign. (Moran 1999) in children, many factors that have a significant impact on cardiovascular disease during childhood and adulthood alike can be identified as connected to obesity. Again, high blood pressure is a significant determining factor, as well as high insulin levels, faster heart rate, and cardiac output. (Davis et al. 2002)

One example of a connection that could be made between higher obesity rates in children and higher incidents of diabetes is that of both African-American and Mexican-American girls. These minorities have a higher rate of childhood obesity, and this may account for the higher rates of diabetes mellitus that also exist for them. (Davis et al. 2002) "The presence of diabetes should be considered in all morbidly obese children. While overt type 2 diabetes mellitus is rare in childhood, hyperinsulinemia and glucose intolerance are nearly universal in morbidly obese children." (Moran 1999) the excess weight on obese children makes them more prone to orthopedic problems such as tibial torsion and bowed legs, slipped capital, and femoral epophysis. Additionally, obese children will often have signs of weight stress in the joints of the legs. (Moran 1999) Overweight children are also prone to skin disorders, ranging from acne to more serious problems, especially if there are deep skin folds. More serious conditions include heat rash, intertrigo, monilial dermatitis, and acanthosis nigricans. (Moran 1999)

Obesity has a significantly negative effect on children's self-esteem which can have serious long-lasting implications for the child's overall well-being throughout life. "It is essential to address any existing psychiatric problems, including depression, poor self-esteem, negative self-image and withdrawal from peers. From an early age, society stigmatizes obese people as lazy, stupid, slow and self-indulgent. " (Moran 1999) Many studies have reported that children will often be negative towards obese peers, and many overweight children are rejected by other children. One study conducted using drawings of normal/healthy, handicapped, deformed, and overweight children in 1961 found that children almost always had negative feelings towards the "fat kid." When repeated in 2001, this study showed that overweight children today are even more rejected by their peers than in 1961. ("Stigmatization..." 2003) the mental anguish caused by a weight problem can be especially painful for teenagers.

Although there has been a lot of discussion about the "fat" gene, and there are in fact some genetic causes of overweight, it is not genetics but behavioral factors which are the primary cause in most cases. ("Review..." 1998) One behavioral factor that can cause obesity is an eating disorder such as binge eating disorder, or obsessive compulsive eating disorder. Food often serves as a way to reduce stress and find comfort for people with these disorders.

There is some theoretical work suggesting that some human obesity, but there is little or no concrete evidence for this.

One of the reasons that obesity is so rampant in America is due to the relatively low cost of food. Another significant factor is increased marketing of food aimed at children, including fast food and candy. Another problem is that the Americans are generally becoming lazy because our society is catering to laziness. An increasing number of households have both parents working outside of the home, which means children are more dependent on unhealthy take-out and instant meals. (Adhib et al. 2004) Many studies have linked television with childhood obesity as well. "Physical activity is reduced because television viewing replaces more active pursuits. Food intake tends to increase because television viewing stimulates snacking and because most of the foods advertised on television are high in calories." ("Review..." 1998) Growth disorders… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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