Obesity in Children and What Can Be Done About It
Obesity has been termed the latest pandemic to strike the world. The problem is no longer restricted to adults. Children are the fastest growing segment of the population to fall victim to this unhealthy trend. Everyone is familiar with the problems associated with adult obesity including diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of stroke. However, there is a growing concern that adults who were obese as children may have a greater risk than those that gained weight later in life. The following will explore the sociological and biological factors that influence childhood obesity.
Recent estimates conclude that more than 30% of children in the United States are obese (Kimm and Obarzanek, 2002). Obesity has replaced malnutrition as the most prevalent concern among children in some parts of Africa. It is now believed that obesity is four times as common as malnutrition in some parts of the continent (du Toit and van der Merwe, 2003). The key problem with these figures is that obese children are more likely to become obese adults (Must, 2003).
Obesity creates some serious health concerns. Obesity is expected to decrease life expectancies anywhere from 5-20 years (St-Onge and Heymsfield, 2003). Obesity not only has serious consequences for the individual, but has a significant social cost as well. Obesity has been linked to many major illnesses, which costs the country millions of dollars per year, not to mention lost productivity in the workforce. The costs are even greater with childhood obesity because the problems are likely to occur for a much longer period of time. In addition, many problems may have an earlier onset, which means more years of expensive treatments in the long run.
Trying to pinpoint the cause of childhood obesity has led to a serious of finger pointing at everyone from parents to schools to video games and fast food companies. It is more likely that a combination of factors including all of these has b……………….