The incidence of childhood obesity has grown considerably in the past three decades which is evidenced by a fourfold increase since the 1980's. We live in a nation where currently one in five U.S. children is obese. The occurrence of obesity can be seen as early as children aged five and six and progresses through adolescence. Studies have indicated that children who are diagnosed as obese between the ages of 10 and 13 are at an 80 percent likelihood of continuing to be obese in their adult years. Such studies do not portray an optimistic future for our nation's children with respect to the issue of obesity.
While generally accepted that the causes of obesity are often complex including a child's genetic makeup, existing biological factors, behavioral and cultural factors, the actual cause for most children who are obese is that they consume more calories than their bodies burn. This imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended can be attributed to numerous factors such as overeating, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, low self-esteem and even life events such as divorce and abuse. The role of parents when it comes to childhood obesity has also been studied. Results show that when one parent is obese the child stands a 50 percent chance of becoming obese and that increases to eighty percent when both parents are obese. It becomes clear from these studies that the issue of childhood obesity is not simple but rather, quite complex as it can involve physical, environmental and genetic causes.
Studies by the Center for Disease Control show that children who are diagnosed as obese are at risk for physical consequences such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, psychological issues (poor self esteem and stigmatization) and stroke. In addition to the physical diseases that obesity puts our children at risk for there is also a profound economic burden being placed on the nation's healthcare system as a result of the financial cost of obesity. In a report in 2009, NBC news projected the annual cost of treating obesity-related diseases in the United States to exceed $303 billion dollars.
The American public has taken note of this health crisis in the United States and findings conclude that there is a strong and escalating concern on the part of the public for interventions which target reducing obesity in both young children and adolescents. What has accompanied this increased awareness of escalating obesity rates was public support for regulatory strategies aimed at the prevention of childhood obesity. As the public sees that the rate of childhood obesity is increasing they are looking to the government as well as public health organizations and schools to wage the battle against childhood obesity. What is central to this issue is that childhood obesity in reality is a man made and yet, preventable disease.
|School:||State University of New York at Buffalo|
|Department:||Learning and Instruction|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||MAI 50/04M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Public health, Health education, Information science|
|Keywords:||Childhood, Obesity, Prevention|
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