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Childhood Obesity Overview Essay

1713 words - 7 pages

Obesity is defined as an unnecessary buildup of body fat. "Obesity is present when total body weight is more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls" (Lohman, 1987). Although childhood obesity is often defined as a weight-for-height in excess of 120 percent of the ideal, skin fold measures are more accurate determinants of corpulence (Dietz, 676-686; Lohman, 1987). Skin fold thickness is a technique used to evaluate body composition by measuring a double thickness of skin at particular body location. When the triceps and calf are used, a total of skin folds of 10-25mm is considered best for boys, and 16-30mm is best for girls (Lohman,1987).According to Torgan, "The number of children who are overweight has doubled in the last two to three decades; currently one child in five is overweight" (2002). Several factors have contributed to the rising numbers of obese children. Lack of physical activity is the leading cause of obesity in children. Children have decreased their involvement in physical activities, and have increased their participation in sedentaryactivities. Playtime used to consist of riding bikes, chasing each other, and playing sports, is now being used to watch television, surf the internet, or play video games. For instance, several studies by Dietz have found that increased television viewing increases the percentage of time children spend on sedentary activities. Without a corresponding reduction in caloric intake, obesity may result ("Television" 543-550). Many health care professionals prescribe impact type exercises for obese children; however, these children often suffer from joint pain or discomfort because of their excess weight, and are often noncompliant.Poor eating habits and the environment has also contributed to overweight children. Children are now consuming more foods that are high in calories. They are more inclined to eating when not hungry, eating while watching television, and/or eating while doing homework. Consumption of well-balanced, home-cooked meals together has become obsolete for many families. Instead, they rely on fast food that is cheap and convenient. In an attempt to increase earnings, fast food franchises advertise appealing and tasteful foods that are high in calories. Additionally, we as consumers are more inclined to "super-size" or "king-size" a value meal order. By doing this, we add additional calories to a meal that is already high in calories and saturated fats.Although most causes of obesity in children are modifiable, some are not. Genetics is a non-changeable cause of obesity. Greater risk of obesity has been found in children of obese and overweight parents. Since not all children who eat non-nutritious foods, watch several hours of television daily, and are relatively inactive develop obesity, the search continues for alternative causes. Heredity has recently been shown to influencefatness, regional fat distribution, and response to overfeeding (Bouchard, et...

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