America. This country has been called the land of the free and the home of the brave for many, many years. How amazing is it that this country even exists? Who would have thought people could rise up and defy such a big thing as total control? How fascinating would it have been to be there to see it? Yet, where did that lead us? On the outside a free country, sure, but when put under the microscope, America becomes a place full of prisoners. So many people are trapped in their own body. Adults, elders, even children. In fact, the obesity rate of children increased dramatically from 1974 to 2008, going from just over 6% to just over 18% (Scinicariello and Buser 299). This has become a trend for obesity, doing nothing but rise. Children are becoming worse as the years go by, becoming jailed by the very body they live in.
Several factors can lead to childhood obesity, and one of these factors may be harder to avoid than you think. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are something that is easy to be exposed to, whether you have heard their name before or not. “[PAHs] are known carcinogens and suspected endocrine disruptors [and] prenatal exposure… has been associated with obesity in early childhood” (Scinicariello and Buser 299). There are several ways in which humans can be exposed to PAHs. Cigarettes, exhaust smoke, ingestion of grilled or charred meat, contaminated bread products, and contaminated water are just some of the more innocent ways exposure can happen. Hazardous waste sites are also linked to PAHs, and mothers living near these sites can transfer PAHs to infants through their milk (Scinicariello and Buser 299). A study done in New York City “showed a positive association between maternal exposure to PAHs during pregnancy and increased rates of obesity in early childhood” (Scinicariello and Buser 299). Experiments done on mice have shown that those with “a high-molecular-weight PAH… [led] to increased weight gain, increased fat mass, and changes in food intake” (Scinicariello and Buser 299). However, even with all of these risk factors and ways to get around, PAHs are still not the main problem of obesity. PAHs are only so avoidable, and there are plenty other factors that play a bigger role.
Family, especially parents, has a major role to play in the formatting of the diets of children. Children are willing to put pretty much anything into their mouths, and parents are generally willing to let them. Parents lead their children down a path of food and when they become overweight or obese, some parents do not even realize what they have done. When surveyed, most mothers and fathers were able to tell whether their child was overweight or obese, but a certain percentage did not have it right. About 23 percent of fathers and mothers could not properly indicate whether their child was overweight or obese (Lepkowska 12). This information leads into the possibility that parents are partially to blame for childhood obesity.