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Obesity Among Our Children

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Obesity among Our Children

Childhood obesity is an ongoing epidemic that is plaguing adults and children alike. But it is affecting our children in a way that we cannot explain. Medically there is a cure for obesity. But everyone has to play there part if we are to rid this disease from our society. We have to gain information and awareness in order to defeat this disease.

Defining and diagnosing obesity can vary greatly within the medical field. "A condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body" is the official definition of obesity (Britannica Online, [nd]. But according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics (2004), obesity means "an excess amount of subcutaneous body fat in proportion to lean body mass." There are many ways physicians and dieticians use to measure obesity. One way is called BMI or Body Mass Index. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics (2004), the meaning of BMI or Body Mass Index is, "An indirect measure of body fat calculated as the ratio of a person's body weight in kilograms to the square of a person's height in meters.

BMI (kg/m") = weight (kilograms) ч height (meters)"

In children and youth, BMI is based on growth charts for age and gender and is referred to as BMI-for-age, which his used to assess underweight, overweight, and risk for overweight." The BMI growth charts for children are what pediatricians use to provide national percentile results for the parents. This particular chart is based on height and weight but graph information to make it easier for the parents to understand the child's growth. Another measuring tool is triceps and sub scapular skin fold values. We know exactly what an obese child looks like with our sight, but we cannot officially tell exactly unless the child's BMI is measured. But being that obesity is growing out of proportion in children as well as in adults, we have a responsibility to that child to help him or her in every way that we can. It is a growing question in our mind that we ask ourselves everyday as to why our children are obese.

Understanding the Causes and Problems of Obesity in Children

According to Konner (2005) he states that, "Since 1971, the proportion of overweight children has more than doubled for children ages 6-11 years and more than tripled for children ages 12-19 years." Obesity can extend to a lot of different causes in children. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academics has come out with a table that shows a lot of different causes that deal with obesity in children such as Physical, Emotional and Social Health in children and Youth. Here is an example of the table of the medical causes:

Physical Health

Ñ"ж Glucose intolerance and insulin resistance

Ñ"ж Type 2 diabetes

Ñ"ж Hypertension

Ñ"ж Dyslipidemia

Ñ"ж Hepatic steatosis

Ñ"ж Cholelithiasis

Ñ"ж Sleep apnea

Ñ"ж Menstrual abnormalities

Ñ"ж Impaired balance

Ñ"ж Orthopedic problems

Emotional Health

Ñ"ж Low self-esteem

Ñ"ж Negative body image

Ñ"ж Depression

Social Health

Ñ"ж Stigma

Ñ"ж Negative stereotyping

Ñ"ж Discrimination

Ñ"ж Teasing and bullying

Ñ"ж Social marginalization

There are many causes of obesity and the depth of the problem is of large concern. But initially the same causes of obesity for adults were not the same causes in children. But now medical and scientific studies show how those same causes for obesity in adults are typically the same exact causes for obesity in children. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academics states that medical causes are not the only way to lead to childhood obesity. The environment is a cause of obesity in children according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics (2004), "...urban and suburban designs that discourage walking and other physical activities; pressures on families to minimize food costs, acquisition and preparation time, resulting in frequent consumption of convenience foods that are high in calories and fat; reduced access and affordability in some communities to fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods; decreased opportunities for physical activity at school, after school, and reduced walking or biking to and from school; and competition for leisure time that was once spent playing outdoors with sedentary screen time including watching television or playing computer and video games."

Genetics is another cause that can play a major role in obesity in children. But according to Torgan (2002), she states that "...genes alone can't account for the huge increase in rates over the past few decades." If both parents are obese and there is a family history of obesity, that child is more likely to become an obese adult than if they were to have thin parents. Genetics can also decrease metabolic rate, or the rate a person burns calories. One child may have a high metabolism that causes him or her to be leaner, while another child will have a slow metabolism making him or her overweight and obese.

When it comes to activity, children these days are doing less of the outdoor and more of the indoor activities. What I mean by indoor activities is playing video games, watching television, playing on the computer and talking on the telephone. Below are two graphs that show what media devices are used among children by age and the daily television viewing by children and youth in hours. But with the media use among children by age the different times for each are: All children 5:29; 2-7 year olds 3:34; 8-18 year olds 6:43; Girls 5:19; Boys 5:37; White 5:06; Minority 6:03.

Treatment and Prevention of Childhood Obesity

Treatment and prevention of childhood obesity is a continuous effort on a lot of different parts.

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