It is no surprise that obesity is a serious problem in America. Childhood obesity rates are continuing to rise, and this causes a serious threat to the health of our nation. Today more than 9 million children over the age of 6 are considered obese (Koplan, Kraak, and Liverman). Since 1970 obesity rates have nearly tripled and will likely continue to rise (Koplan, Kraak, and Liverman). This is an alarming figure. Steps need to be taken to try to limit this epidemic and improve the health of the nation. Obesity needs to be treated as a serious health concern and the United States needs to do more to educate the nation’s youth about obesity.
Obesity is defined as having a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for a particular age and sex (Harding). There are several factors that contribute to an individuals BMI such as genes, psychological influences, lifestyle, certain diseases, eating habits, and education. However, the most prominent factor is one’s environment (Green, Hargrove, Riley). Americans have adapted a particularly unhealthy lifestyle within the last century. Children spend on average five or six hours on activities such as watching television, using the computer, or playing video games (Green and Reese). There has also been a significant increase in the consumption of fast food which has little nutritional value (Green, Hargrove, and Riley). With this increase in technology and processed food availability, it isn’t surprising that obesity rates are increasing. While it may be difficult for the government to put a limit on the amount of television watched or the amount of fast food eaten, the government can better educate the nation’s youth on the risks associated with obesity and hopefully prevent the rate of this epidemic from increasing.
There are several reasons as to why the United States need to educate the youth about obesity. First, children who are obese are at risk for psychosocial problems. There is a history of children being teased about being fat, and this can be detrimental to an obese child. Obese children can often get frustrated when they unsuccessfully complete a physical task, or when they’re picked last for a team. Bullying and teasing puts children at a greater risk for problems such as shame and low self-esteem. These problems could impair the child socially, and could lead to poor academic performance (Koplan, Kraak, and Liverman).
As well as being bullied, obese children are also at risk for eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, which are also serious problems with America’s youth. Often only extremely skinny girls are the ones associated with having an eating disorder, while overweight and obese children are often overlooked. “We usually look for these behaviors in very thin girls, but here we see a very high prevalence in overweight girls,” said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, who researched dietary practices in children (Harding). Girls are particularly affected due to their preoccupation with their body...