Children across America are being poked at, called names, laughed at, and harassed for being obese at a young age. Childhood obesity numbers are increasing, and this is because children are either following their parents footsteps and diving into an unhealthy lifestyle or making this path towards obesity on their own. With this increase in obesity, there also appears to be a receptive generation of parents who are not taking action against their child's decline in health. The government has developed many different programs for the nation's children to keep them active, eat an appropriate diet, and hold obesity at bay. Parents need to step in and make sure that their children are getting involved and participating in these programs in order to discourage their journey into obesity.
People everywhere have noticed that there are more children in our nation that are obese than ever before. With obesity being defined as "a physical condition in which the person possesses a harmful amount of excess body fat," parents need to realize how to keep their child away from this dire health condition (Lerner). Children are living lives that are making them gain fat, and ultimately become obese, and parents are allowing them to do so. Children are living a "sedentary lifestyle that promotes weight gain and ultimately obesity" (Wexler). If these children are not moving, and instead being allowed to play video games or watch television, they are not living a healthy lifestyle; they are living the life of obesity and weight gain. Dietary intake that is high in carbohydrates and fats combined with a low level of physical activity will ultimately lead to obesity (Lerner). Children need to stay active and make wiser dietary decisions to do the two basic steps in avoiding unhealthy levels of fat. With the advances in technology and transportation, children do not have to walk around and move (Frey). Not moving causes weight gain and low fitness levels. By sitting around all day and gaining weight while doing so, children are slowly making their way to a harmful body mass index (BMI) level (Davidson). A child's BMI is used to determine the amount of body fat they have. With "a BMI of 40 or greater indicating morbid obesity," children and parents need to realize that this could lead to a "high risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes" (Davidson). Statistics show that the numbers of children falling into this lifestyle are increasing dramatically. Parents are familiar with how this sedentary lifestyle is affecting their child's health negatively. Just by encouraging them to get up and play, parents may make the important improvement in that child's life that will steer them towards healthier decisions. For every child in the United States, there are three children that are already overweight or have a high risk of becoming overweight (Pazder). If parents would just do more to promote an active lifestyle, these numbers would decrease noticeably.
Obesity cannot always be avoided; however, because of genetic traits that are being passed down from the child's parents. Being at risk of becoming obese occurs for a few different reasons, but one apparent reason today is that obesity is being transferred through genetics. For example, a child born into a family with two obese parents has an eighty percent chance of becoming overweight, if they have only one obese parent then the percent decreases to forty, and if they have no obese parents then they run a 7 percent chance of obesity (Pazder). Some children are predisposed to be obese before they are even born. However, it isn't all in the genetics. As children grow they watch, and they mimic moves that their parents make. If a parent is making unwise food choices then the child will too. If the parent makes unwise exercise choices, inevitably so will the child. Many children are falling into the trench that their parents are personally digging for them by not being healthy themselves. Culture also plays a big part in obesity levels. Studies have shown that different races are more at risk for obesity than others. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native American children and adolescence have a more common factor of obesity than Caucasians of the same ages do (Sisk). Through culture and social lives, the "highest percentage of over-weight exists among Hispanic boys and African-American and Hispanic girls" (Pazder). With culture and race playing a role in obesity, it is hard for those put in these situations to ever change their lifestyle and not become obese.
Socio-economical factors also play a key role in why children are unable to stray away from the path of obesity. Money is a noticeable factor in obesity. Wanting something fast, easy and cheap, children in low income homes are being raised on diets that are not well-rounded and that promote un-healthy levels of fat (Coleman). These families have stress in their lives from having to work more which forces them into a lifestyle that is not healthy because of the lack of time to prepare a healthy meal that is affordable. Many factors that contribute to obesity are unavoidable and even irreversible; however, there is much that can be done to make sure the children in these conditions stay in the best health that they personally are capable of. If a parent were to just spend time in preparing a home-cooked and well-balanced meal, they could change the way their children eat and in the end help them establish better eating habits. Americans who are under the risk of obesity due to socioeconomic factors can become aware of this and maybe even change their lives around so that they can participate in a healthy lifestyle.
Obesity is a very unhealthy condition to be in, and it expectedly leads to even worse health symptoms. Obesity is the causing factor for many health issues, and children are being bombarded with these problems at very young ages. Many health issues are also conceived by obesity. Obese children run the risk "for developing diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, and psychological disorders...type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically in children, and this increase has been directly linked to obesity" (Sisk). Obesity causes many symptoms, but some are more extreme than others. Some of the major consequences associated with childhood obesity are: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and an all around lower quality of life (Coleman). With these worsening health qualities, American children have to face a wide variety of challenges that are not favorable for children to live with. Children need to understand at an early age that what they are doing now and that their choices in lifestyle they are making will affect them for the rest of their lives. Jennifer sisk, an MA, stated in an article on obesity that:
Obese and overweight children and adolescents are more likely to be obese or overweight as adults. According to the American Obesity Association, obese children aged 10 to 13 have a 70 percent chance of remaining obese for the rest of their lives. Obese individuals are at increased risk for many other diseases and early death. Behavior and lifestyle modification programs involving positive goal setting, increased exercise, and group support can help children and adolescents successfully and safely lose weight.
With obesity being such a prominent factor in an unhealthy life, parents and children need to come to realize how they are harming their bodies at young ages and that harm done will be difficult to modify later in their life.
With this national issue of obesity worsening, the government has put in place multiple programs to help reduce juvenile obesity. Just recently some government programs have been promoted and created to help children across America get up and move to help better their health. Michelle Obama was prompted by the increase of childhood obesity to start a campaign to end obesity called the "Let's Move" campaign (Wilson). Not wanting parents to outlive their children, the government is attempting to get children interested in bettering their health through promoting healthy activities and food choices. Children see all over the television and billboards their favorite characters and cartoons being active and eating properly. This propaganda can affectively get children to want to behave as these characters do. Parents can encourage their child's response to this propaganda by helping their child keep busy and active. Resources are practically given to all Americans in this country that have been put together by the government to help parents find ways to have their children live active lives. Some of these sources that are helpful in eliminating childhood obesity and lowering BMI numbers include: Disease Control and Prevention, My Pyramid.gov that was given by the USDA, NFL Play 60, and many others. Parents need to search these sites and sources and look into information that is beneficial to the health of their children. Parents should know the needs of their children before starting physical programs. Children are fragile, so proper exercise and activity amounts and levels vary to a great extent. "Combining BMI, waist circumference, family health history, and lifestyle analysis gives healthcare providers enough information to analyze health risks related to weight at minimal costs" many lives can be changed and lives can be saved by just finding out specific information and personal fitness levels for individual children (Davidson). If people would take advantage of the already provided research and programs given to them, America would see a decrease in obesity among the children of the nation. The government can only do so much; it is the responsibility of parents to keep their children healthy.
Children are living with obesity, some will be able to turn it around, others will not. Each child is different, and parents should be understanding and patient when helping their child increase their personal health and deviate for the path towards obesity. Parents have been provided with the resources needed in order to help their children, all they need to do is act. No parent wants to be held personally responsible for their own child's long-term consequences caused by obesity.