The epidemic of childhood obesity has caught the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama and this is an indicator of how serious this problem is. As healthcare professionals it is incumbent to diagnose the overall problem and devise innovation policies and solutions to initiate effective damage control and preventative strategies. The development of structured and proven techniques is necessary to fight childhood obesity. The seriousness of this cannot be overstated, since addressing the problem effectively will help to determine the future health of this nation. The long term implications of not successfully treating overweight children will compromise their quality of life, cause low self esteem, and increase overall healthcare costs. Since the policing of additives to food such as preservatives, excess salt and sugar, sugar substitutes (high fructose corn syrup) and bad fats (partially hydrogenated oils) has not been as stringent as it should be, health care professionals are the first line of defense along with parents, teachers, and communities to prevent childhood obesity.
Indentifying the Problem
Almost every American family can relate to obesity. The popular television show The Biggest Loser is a reminder that obesity is a significant problem for many. However, most do not need a television program to realize this as they can probably see this crisis in their immediate or extended family. Data from 2009 and 2010 indicates that one in three children is obese or overweight (Vine, 2013). Children as young as twelve months are overweight. A study of American children indicates that almost 19 percent of children between twelve and twenty-four months are obese. This concern is worldwide, of Finland’s population of two year-old children, 11.3 percent of females and 6.3 percent of males are overweight or obese (Mustila, 2013). In another study shows that in United States “Obesity rates among the nation’s children have tripled in the past 30 years. As of 2008, over 30% of children aged 2 to 19 years had body mass indexes at or above the 85th percentile for their age” (McPherson, 2012, p. 37). This unfortunate trend can be the result of mothers being overweight or gaining excess weight during pregnancy. Smoking and drinking during pregnancy are also pre-indicators of obese infants. Parents may not want to acknowledge that their child is overweight. They sometimes erroneously assume that once they become older they will grow out of it. However misdirected eating and lifestyle habits are becoming more difficult to conquer.
Contributing to the problem of obesity in America is the food industry. The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversee practices in food safety which is an enormous undertaking (Selected Federal Agencies with a Role in Food Safety, 2014). While this branch of government does its best to insure that the food the public consumes is safe, much of the responsibility lies in the hands of specific food...