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Childhood Obesity Essay

1798 words - 7 pages

What is obesity? Obesity is an abnormal accumulation of body fat, usually 20% or more over an individual’s ideal body weight, and morbidly obese is when the body fat is 40% or higher. More recent guidelines for obesity uses a measurement called BMI (body mass index), which is the individual’s weight, multiplied by 703 and then divided by twice the height in inches. BMI of 25.9-29 is considered overweight; BMI over 30 is considered obese. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of illness, disability and death. The Free Dictionary by Farlex (2008)
Obesity is becoming more and more common among younger children. According to Dr. William Dietz, a pediatrician at Tufts University of Medicine, 1 in 5 American children are obese. 70% of the children considered obese are between the ages 10 to 13.” (J. Piscatella, B. Piscatella and Dr. William C. Roberts 1997, p.5-8) They are increasingly considered to grow into obese adults. Not only does obesity come with many health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, but it also comes with psychological problems such as depression. All of these risks are usually carried into adulthood. If caught early, these problems could be treated. However, as the child grows older, they become harder to treat. Even though genetics do play a minor role in obesity, diet and inactivity have a bigger impact. The environment children are growing up in is negatively affecting their diet and exercise. Most kids spend the majority of their time watching TV, going on the computer, or playing video games instead of going outside. This prevents them from getting the daily exercise they need to maintain good health. Many adolescents are also eating junk food when they are in front of the TV or the computer. Taking in these “empty calories” will lead to obesity and the many other health concerns that it can cause. The number of fast food places has become much more prevalent today. There is practically a Macdonald’s or Dunkin Donuts on every corner. A lot of families eat from fast food places because the food tastes good and it is convenient. Eating at these places often can cause children to become addicted to these unhealthy foods.
“Other factors that have been known to lead to obesity are inadequate sleep, family history, psychological disorders, family environment, and socioeconomic factors.” (Mayo Foundation for Medical education) Not getting enough sleep slows the metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Some children may be more prone to obesity depending on their genetics. However, lifestyle behaviors such as diet can prevent obesity among these individuals. The environment children grow up in has a major impact on their lifestyle choices. If a family lives off of fast food and has no adequate sleep schedule, the child is most likely going to become obese. Children from poor families are apt to obesity because eating healthy and exercising requires time and money.
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