Causes of Childhood Obesity

The problem of childhood obesity is a growing one. The Center for Disease Control said that between 1997-2000, the number of obese children in the United State more than doubled. (Giordano). Obesity is responsible for serious health risks such as high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and hypertension. A child who suffers these ailments jeopardizes his health as an adult. In addition to physical illness, obese children often suffer emotionally and psychologically. Being thin is praised in our culture, and obese children are often teased and judged. Rose Giordano tells us the results of a study:

A study that compared average-weight children with obese children were teased three times more often. Another study reported that children who were criticized for their weight had negative attitudes towards athletics and also reported reduced activity levels…Clearly the emotional well-being of an obese child is fragile. (3). Also, an obese child is often an obese adult, making these emotional and physical problems worse. Yet as more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of fast food and eating nutritiously, why are the numbers of obese children still rising?

Experts agree than there are genetic and hormonal reasons why children are obese. But with proper diet, even those that are prone to be overweight can manage to not become obese. It is known that children need extra calories and nutrients to help them grow and develop, but they need to be healthy calories and the amount of food eaten must be counter-balanced with exercise. (Mayo Clinic). The most common reason that children are obese is due to poor diets and lack of exercise. First, let’s examine why children have become more sedentary. Patricia Anderson and Kristin Butcher attribute the lack of physical exercise to urban sprawl.

(6). More and more families live in the suburbs, miles away from their destinations. Car travel is a necessity. Children can no longer walk or ride their bikes to school. Higher crime rates come with higher population, and many kids can’t play outside with out their parents watching them.. Since a lot of time both parents work, children are often confined indoors, and entertain themselves with sedentary activities. In 1999, it was estimated that children spent 19. 3 hours per week watching TV, 2. 3 hours playing video games, and 2. 5 hours in front of the computer.

Today I am sure the numbers are higher. Also, because both their parents work, many children attend after-school care. A lot of these programs center on indoor activities that are more manageable to the staff, rather than play outside. When children are sitting in front of the TV, they tend to snack more on high-calorie, fat filled junk food. But the biggest contributor to childhood obesity is the fast food industry. Morgan Spurlock places the blame squarely on the shoulders of fast food restaurants and the aggressive marketing techniques they aim at children.

In the Film “Super Size Me”, he makes this point clear by showing pictures of different famous people to a group of children. First he held up a picture of Jesus. The children thought it was George Bush. They said George Bush was the 4th president, that he freed the slaves and could never tell a lie. Then Spurlock held up a picture of Ronald McDonald, and every child knew who he was and knew what he did and what he represented. They talked about McDonalds, and even mentioned their favorite menu items. According to Spurlock, McDonalds alone spends 1.

4 billion dollars a year in advertising. They were even the target of a lawsuit by two teenage girls who said their food made them fat. (The suit was thrown out. ). The number of kids who eat fast food is growing. Fast food is attractive to working parents because of the convenience. It is attractive to lower-income parents because it is cheap. It is attractive to kids because it tastes good and is associated with fun—all fast food restaurants give out toys with their kids meals, which are promoted a lot on children’s TV programming.

They don’t advertise the fact that their food is loaded with calories and saturated fats: a typical McDonalds meal can have over 800 calories. Combine food like that with a sedentary lifestyle and you become obese. Fast food companies have also started contracting with school districts around the country to provide cafeteria lunches in the school. Yet one of McDonalds “nutritious” salads can contain 600 calories, not including the soda that most kids will choose to drink over juice or water.

Also, because of budget reasons, most schools have cut their gym days to one or two times a week, instead of every day. The only was to stop childhood obesity is through education. Maybe if there were just as many commercials advertising healthy eating as there is fast food restaurants, kids will start to get the picture. But the real problem is the parents, and the lack of supervision they have over their kids. Healthy eating habits have to be taught in the home. Works Cited Anderson, Patricia and Kristin Butcher. ”Childhood Obesity:Trends and Potential Causes.

” The Future of Children. 28 April 2009 http://www. futureofchildren. org/information2826/information_show. htm? doc_id=351457 Childhood Obesity. 28 April 2009 http://www. causesofchildhoodobesity. net Giordano, Rose. 11 October 2009. “What Causes Childhood Obesity? ” The Diet Channel. 28 April 2009 http://www. thedietchannel. com/Childhood-Obesity-What-Causes-Childhood-Obesity. htm Mayo Clinic. http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/childhood-obesity/DS006981/DSECTION=causes. Super Size Me. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Kathbur Pictures,2004.

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