- April 25, 2020
Childhood obesity and how to prevent it
Childhoodobesity and how to prevent it
Obesityis a silent epidemic with catastrophic impacts on young children andought to be declared a national disaster in most countries. It isamong the world`s leading risk factors for premature death as aresult of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorderand some forms of cancer (W.H.O, 2016). A child is said to beoverweight if the amount of fats accumulated in his/her body is muchhigher than that recommended by W.H.O. It is said to contribute tomore death in early childhood worldwide, except in Asia andsub-Saharan Africa. It`s, therefore, important to understand causesas well as the consequences of this phenomenon to our children.
WorldHealth Organization defines obesity in children who are below the ageof 5 years as the weight that is higher than what is considered asthe healthy weight for given height. It is measured by body massindex (B.M.I) which gives the relationship between an individual’sheight and weight (C.D.C 2016).Accordingto W.H.O 2016, the majority of overweight children can be found indeveloping nations as compared to developed states. The prevalence ofobesity in these countries is 30% higher than that of industrializedstates. On a global basis, the number of overweight toddlers (between0 to 5 years) has been on the rise since 1990. The number increasedfrom 32 million to 42 million by 2013. If there will be no measurestaken to curb obesity, W.H.O forecasts that the number will rise to70million by 2025.
Researchindicates that children in less developed countries are morevulnerable to young child malnutrition as well as micronutrient-poorfood, high-fat food, high dense food and less level of physicalactivities which highly result to a sharp increase in childhoodobesity. Nonetheless, this predicament can be fought easily througheating healthy foods and regular physical activities. Additionally,an individual can increase consumption of fruits and vegetables aswell as limit energy intake from fats and sugar. The figure belowindicates the number of children considered to be overweight between2011 and 2014. The number is quite significant, and if no programsare put into place to reduce this problem, we might end up losing theyoung generation.
Figure1: Prevalence of obesity among young children by gender and race
Studieson obesity started to blossom back in 20thcentury in Europe. It also spread in the United Kingdom where JohnWaterlow and Philip James prepared an obesity-related research to theUnited Kingdom research council, where they solicited the medicalestablishment to start funding research on obesity diabetes anddigestive and kidney diseases. This program gave birth to the firstinternational congress on obesity which was held in 1974 at RoyalCollege. Through this meeting publications on obesity such asinternational journals were commenced. In the 1980s there was thebirth of International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO).The year 1990 was the period of maturations where obesity meetingswere held every year throughout the Europe. From the beginning of21stcentury, IASO has been rebranded several times, where it`s now calledWorld Obesity and the Strapline Knowledge Solutions Action. The needfor rebranding up to the today`s name is to make it stronger andbring a unified global action to tackle the problem and challengescaused by obesity globally.
Causesof obesity in childhood
Severalfactors can be attributed to obesity in childhood. Some of them areas discussed in this part. Family history and genetic makeup areamong the most contributing factors to overweight in children. Here,a child can develop obesity just because one of the parents if notboth has a gene associated with this phenomenon. According toresearch, BMI is about 25-40% heritable. Obesity can also be causedby health conditions where hormones might be having a high positivecorrelation with obesity through hypothyroidism and crushing syndrome(Faguy, 2016). Medicine can also be a risk factor for developingobesity in children through slowing the rate at which a kid’s bodyburns calories or accelerating craving for junk foods. At some point,Parents to these kids to cannot be blamed because research indicatesthat other exogenous factors can lead to obesity in childhood. Thisnotwithstanding the parents should try their best to protect thesechildren from intake of high amounts of fast foods given that theirgenes are very sensitive to them.
Divorcecan also contribute to childhood obesity. This is because separationcan instill lifetime stress in children. We all know that distress isa number one cause of obesity in human beings. On a similar line,most of these kids end up on the streets where they lack parentalguidance on what food is good for them. Moreover, working parents whospend most of their time in jobs have inadequate time for theirchildren and may not be in a position to supervise their dietaryrequirements. In such cases, children are left to feed on whateverfood the like. Most of them go for junk foods which are likely tolead to obesity.
Televisionand video games can also promote obesity in childhood. This isbecause they make kids adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Prolonged sittingwhile watching television increases the prevalence of obesity by 2%where this behavior has increased drastically in the recent years.The number of hours spent on television has a high positivecorrelation with the probability of becoming overweight (C.D.C 2016).
Figure2: Medical complications associated with obesity.
Fromfigure 2 above, obesity can result in various health complicationssuch as stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heartdiseases, some cancers, experiencing fertility problems andnon-alcoholic fatty liver disease. According to research by C.D.C2016, obese children are found to suffer from various psychologicalproblems such as body dissatisfaction, low self -esteem, low qualityof life, anxiety, and depression. Socially, obese children are saidto suffer from prejudice and discrimination. They have fewer friendsas compared to others. On a similar line, obesity is known tocontribute to poor performances among children. This is because it isa contributing factor to isolation which may result to stress andsecondary health complications thus poor performance.
Accordingto Karnik & Kanekar 2012, obesity in children is a criticalhealth crisis on both national and international levels. Theprevalence has been on the rise over the past few decades and animmediate solution ought to be sought. Some of the interventions thatcan be put into place to mitigate the risks of developing obesityinclude family-based interventions, school-based master programs,societal based strategies, and hospital-based plans among others.
Thesociety has a crucial role to play in reducing obesity in theirmidst. This can be done through accepting children suffering fromobesity and educating them on the best way to live and reduceobesity. Additionally, the community can also contribute to reducingobesity by making sure that those in food processing manufacturefoods that are rich in nutrients with less energy dense and includeclearly labeled food wrappers. Also, the community can reduce obesityby ensuring increase and accessibility of healthy food in school andgrowing health choices such as safe routes to school. The societyshould also refrain from rewarding children with junk food as a meansof socializing with them since this can create an unhealthyrelationship between child`s body and food hence leading to obesity.According to research byKarnik& Kanekar 2012, the best way of treating obesity is to useteam-based approach and then refer patients whose conditions is morecomplicated to specialist services.
Bodiessuch as the NGO`s and the government can also help to reduce obesitythrough the establishment of food co-operations that can aid inpushing for better foods to our children. The government can alsocontribute to curbing obesity through imposing high taxes on thosecommodities that have a history of causing obesity and provide foodfree from calories. Besides, small amounts of levies should beimposed on proper dietary foods to subsidize their prices and makethem more available than junk foods. Also, the government should seeto it that it has put a tighter restriction on labeling of food toensure that the average consumer is not misled by wrong labeling offood containers which make unhealthy food look healthy. Throughmedical centers, the government should make it possible to accessbrochures that provide information on weight management, healthyeating habits. Lastly, the government should make the surgery onweight loss accessible by subsidizing it.
Schoolsshould not be left behind in undertaking measures to curb obesity.Elementary and primary schools, in particular, ought to be at thefront line in fighting obesity since they spend much time with thesekids. According to Story, Kaphingst, & French (2012), schoolshave the capability of promoting physical exercises and increaseenergy expenditure to reduce childhood obesity. A comprehensiveschool master plan should incorporate P.E programs, health educationthat covers the importance of continued activities, intramural sportsand recess time for elementary school kids. School meal programsshould be developed in a way that is focused on improving everychild`s welfare. These meal schedules should be created under theguidance of high standard dietary instructions to promote childnutrition and reduce obesity (Story, Kaphingst, & French, 2012).
Benefitsof curbing obesity
Havingdiscussed major challenges connected with the obesity, it becomes ofparamount importance to maintain a healthy weight for your height andbe in the BMI healthy ranges. This will ensure long and quality life.Better lifestyles are known for contributing to high productivitybecause of the huge level of output associated with a strong taskforce holding all other external factors constant. Remaining healthyreduces the chances of being attacked by non-communicable diseasesassociated with obesity. This, in turn, will ensure prolonged qualitylife to the individuals. On a similar line, funds that could beallocated to treatment of secondary complications stemming fromobesity can be channeled to other developmental projects whichcontribute to economic growth. Fat people are wasting lots of time inan attempt to reduce weight. This time could have been alternativelyused to do something profitable. Thus if people are encouraged to eatwell and stay away from factors that contribute to obesity, they canbe able to engage in other productive activities and have a prolongedquality life. The cost for maintaining obese children is higher thanthe benefits derived from obesity, and thus it would be nice if allof us can try to minimize the cost and maximize benefit associatedwith healthy living.
Itis clear that obesity has been a world problem since the 1970s andpeople require to change their day to day habits. The society needsto focus on the cause and various ways of curbing obesity such ascombined diet and physical activity intervention. Charity begins athome which implies that parents and guardians should be the first ineducating the kids on the importance of healthy eating habit andexercises. The eating patterns adults adopt have a considerableinfluence on the choices children take in fast food restaurants andin school. Therefore, the senior citizens should act as role modelsfor the young generation to emulate as well as showing them theimportance of avoiding sedentary lifestyles. This can significantlyhelp decrease childhood obesity and improve health life and thesociety as well
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