Childhood Obesity: A Growing Problem In Our Society

1367 words - 5 pages

Overweight and obese children significantly affect the United States today, becoming a further pronounced issue. The amount of overweight adolescents and younger children sky rocketed in the past few years, and more than tripled since the 1970s. Developing overweight habits while young inhibits an individual’s chances of a healthy lifestyle later in life. In order to prevent the obesity epidemic in our country, the major causes and root problems of obesity must be explored and abolished. Obviously, overeating and a lacking of physical activity both contribute immensely to obesity. The one most unaware to the public eye is the overwhelming availability of cheap food and how that affects social classes. Childhood obesity, an issue slowly swallowing the United States, becomes more pronounced every day due to overeating, little to no exercise, and product availability and easy access.
To begin with, children today consume food in outrageous quantities, creating one of the biggest yet most obvious reasons for obesity: overeating. Although children do require extra calories to grow, they continuously take in way more than they burn off, creating unnecessary weight gain. (Brand, 1). Calorie consumption has increased dramatically among kids in the past few years. The largest increase of calorie intake per day was found in children ages 2-6, an average of 181 calories a day, and in extreme cases up to 586 calories. 121 are from snacking alone on calorie dense, energy lacking snacks. (Bishop, 2). Meredith Brand states, “Snacking is another major [weight gain] culprit and children are snacking more than ever before…accounting for up to 27% of daily calorie intake.” Also, as meal portions grow larger, children become more accustom to eating larger quantities of food. As time has passed, portions of unhealthy food in restaurants have grown in size. This causes kids to eat more without really even realizing it. (Snyder, 2). Not only meal sizes have grown, but salty snacks and even soft drinks have upped their portion sizes. Snack bags have upped from about one ounce to 1.6 ounces per bag, while soft drinks grew as much as 12.2 ounces to 19.9 ounces on average. (Bishop, 2.) Most importantly, nutritional value has plummeted, and children choose to fill up on unhealthy foods rather than foods that are good for them. Children must have a healthy diet to support optimal brain growth and development. Today, the majority of American children fall short of a healthy diet, as only 21% eat the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables. (Bishop, 3). Instead, they fuel up on fast food that is both rich in fat, and low in nutrition. As much as one-third of children choose to eat fast food daily, rather than eating a healthy meal at home, resulting in about 6 extra pounds of weight gain per year. If children would cut out the unnecessary calorie intake, watch their portion sizes, and eat healthy meals, the amount of kids overeating would plummet down.
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