Childhood Obesity In The United States

1778 words - 7 pages

IntroductionChildhood Obesity is growing problem in the United States. Between 5-25 percent of children and teenagers in the United States are obese (Dietz, 1983). This increasing percentage has brought into the light the problem of childhood obesity. Children are growing fatter younger. The second National Children and Youth Fitness Study found that 6-9 year olds have thicker skinfolds compared to their counterparts in the 1960s (Ross & Pate, 1987). During the same period, some have documented a 54 percent increase in the frequency of obesity among 6-11 year olds (Gortmaker, Dietz, Sobol, & Wehler, 1987). The prevalence of obesity increases with age among both males and females (Lohman, 1987), and there is a greater likelihood that obesity beginning in early childhood will last throughout a life span (Epstein, Wing, Koeske, & Valoski, 1987). So while an obese baby may not become an obese child and an obese child may not become an obese adult, the likelihood increase and may last a lifetime. It is safe to say that childhood obesity is an issue that needs to be explored.Defining Childhood ObesitySo what is childhood obesity? Obesity, by itself, is defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity is obtained when total body weight is measured as having more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls (Lohman, 1987). However, it is different in the case of children. Childhood obesity is defined as a weight-for-height in excess of 120 percent of the ideal. Because of growing differences between ages and gender, skinfold measurement would be more accurate determinant of fatness in the case of children (Dietz, 1983; Lohman, 1987).Dangers of Childhood ObesityWhat are the dangers of childhood obesity? As stated before, the likelihood of being obese as an adult drastically increases when obesity is present during childhood. The reason for this increased risk is due the poor eating and exercise habits learned in childhood. Being overweight will cause metabolic and hormonal changes effecting eating habits and increasing the chances of being obese. Another factor for the prevalence of obesity is the change in eating habits based on poor self-esteem and depression. Often these characteristics are associated with obesity, making it hard to stop (Larimore, 2004).In addition to being grossly overweight, poor self-esteem, depression, and metabolic changes there are far more pressing issues with childhood obesity. Diseases that were not a risk in the past are now a rising problem when it comes to children who are obese. These risks include: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, early hardening of arteries, soaring cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, stomach and pancreas disease, liver and gall bladder disease, increased cardiovascular risk factors, early arthritis and many more (Larimore, 2004). To get a better picture of just how much of risk obesity is to children, the American Heart Association estimates that 27 million...

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