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Childhood Obesity

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There was a time when chubby children were considered cute. It was assumed that their baby fat would melt away and a healthy adult would be left over. We now know that childhood obesity can be very harmful for our nations children. Not only can obesity cause health problems but can also psychological problems. Obesity should no longer be ignored. With American people getting fatter everyday, the rise of obesity is sure to continue. With the convenience of sitting and watching television or playing video games, the constant advertisement of obesity through fast food, and the decline of family time, obesity is sure to continue to increase in America. Society still has a long road to travel in conquering obesity.

The most horrifying thing about obesity is that its victims are becoming younger and younger. What it all comes back to is what people are putting in their bodies, what they are eating. People have horrible eating habits and poor knowledge of nutrition, they seem surprised when they are suddenly overweight and on the verge of obesity. Many people put the blame on getting older and lack of exercise, this is part of the problem, but nutrition plays a much larger role, especially in childhood obesity. Obesity is now considered not only as a personal problem but also as a problem that affects the society as a whole. The increase in weight of populations was influenced by social, cultural and technological factors. These include the growth of the fast-food industry and the changes in family values. There are lots of factors to consider in knowing the real cause of obesity in America but who is really at fault.

" Throw social influence into the mix and we have a whole new set of causes for obesity. A further study in Appetite indicated that social norms can affect quantitative ratings of internal states such as hunger. This means that other people's hunger levels around us can affect our own eating habits. And we are to blame the individuals who are eating in our presence for our own weight problems?" (Nakaya, 2006)

Socializing with overweight people can change what we perceive as the norm; it raises our tolerance for obesity both in others and in ourselves. It's also about letting your hair down. There's the idea that we like to hang with people who are like ourselves. Especially among two overweight people, there's a sort of permission-giving going on. We're encouraging each other to eat more. " In countries such as the United States where being obese is viewed as unattractive, overweight children routinely deal with ridicule and rejection. One study that appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1967 and is considered to be a classic in the field of social psychology showed that children as young as six years old described silhouettes of obese children as lazy, stupid, dirty, ugly, liars, and cheaters, indicating that obese kids are saddled with stereotypes early in life." (Jimerson, 2009)

Childhood obesity is complex and there is evidence for general negative effects of weight on the psyche. However, children differ in their cognitive and emotional development, their relative importance of being overweight, their family structure and background, as well as their genetic make-up. They are also subject to differences in parenting style and family dysfunction. All of these factors result in individualized responses and coping strategies to being overweight or obese. Some children have a difficult time dealing with stresssothey use food as comfort, when they feel, and many childres are prone to eating in response to negative emotions like being, bored, feeling anxious aor being angry.

" Certain genetic characteristics may increase an individual's susceptibility to excess body weight, however, there are likely to be many genes involved and a strong interaction between genetics and environment that influences the degree of excess body weight. It has been shown that overweight tends to run in families suggesting a genetic link. In some cases, parental obesity is a stronger predictor of childhood overweight that the child's weight status alone." (Bellows, 2009) Children of obese parents have a higher risk of becoming obese. Some genetic causes of childhood obesity include some genetic disorders that could give a rise in childhood obesity. "If one parent is obese, than there is a 50% chance that a child will be obese, and when both parents are obese, a child has an 80% of being obese." (Wexler, 2010) Heredity and environment play key roles in determining a child's risk of becoming overweight or obese. Children are like sponges and they will mimic anything a beloved adult will do. We, as the adult nation, are generally out of shape. We have become reliant on convenience foods that hold little nutritional value.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of obese children ages 6 - 19 tripled to sixteen percent over the last twelve years. That is alarming figure. One of the main reasons is lack of physical activity. This may seem like an obvious cause, but it seems to be the one our youth have the most problems with. Physical education is being cut from many of our public schools because of budgets. Our kids are left to fend for themselves. It is assumed that the child will go home and get all the physical activity they need there. That is wrong. At home awaits the television. Many children will park themselves in front



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