America is well known for its big portions and deluxe sizes. Our food chains are marketed on billboards, commercials and every news article marketing that five dollar combo that includes your deluxe burger, large fries and large drink. These new savings are quickly replacing family home cooked meals and are sought after for their convenience and good taste. Most families, especially lower class struggle to find time preparing home cooked meals and fast food serves as a temporary fix that through time has lasting consequences. Nowadays obesity continues to grow as an epidemic issue and only continues to get worse affecting our younger generations dramatically. According to “A Review of Promising Multicomponent Environmental Child Obesity Prevention Intervention Strategies by the Children’s Healthy Living Program.” obesity has only risen from seven percent in the 1980s to eighteen percent in 2010. If this continues then we will surely double by 2030. This is an issue that must be addressed. In this essay I will discuss the ways in which proper education and interventions can be a useful strategy in combating child obesity in America.
So first let’s understand why this is an issue to begin with. Child obesity is a problem that needs to be addressed because most children are not meeting the Dietary and Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. There may be several reason but this for the most part is is due to lack of health education. The consequences to this weight gain can cause both physical and psychological health problems. The health issues include high cholesterol, plasma insulin and high blood pressure. These symptoms will usually lead to cardiovascular disease and possibly type II diabetes. It’s important to address these issues at a young age because if not it is very likely that these children will most likely carry these habits into late adulthood and will only make combating the issue and bad habits more difficult.. Aside from the medical consequences, some of the psychological issues that tend to emerge could be depression, low self-esteem, poor academic performance and discrimination. The negative consequences associated with obesity are things that can be fixed and maintained with the proper approach. It’s important to understand why this is an issue because it is a growing trend. Since the number only continues to grow and is estimated to double in time, this issue is clearly one that can’t be ignored.
One of the major factors of childhood obesity is socioeconomic factors. According to “The State of Childhood Obesity,” An average of one out of six children is overweight averaging about twelve million being overweight in the U.S. Because of issues like environmental factors it becomes easier for a child to become overweight. This is a problem because children don’t have a safe area to play in around their neighborhood depending on the location. Depending on where the child may live they are limited to the activities they can do due to a more poor neighborhood that doesn’t have access to sidewalks, a park nearby, and are more limited with food options. According to National Childhood Obesity Rates the national obesity percentage is at 18.5. The percentage for six to eleven year old is around 18.4 percent. Just in 2016 the obesity rate has lifted to 31.2 percent in children between the ages of 10 to 17 making it about one in every third child is either obese or overweight. As you can see the percentage rates only continue to grow, especially in children older making it clearer that eating habits need to start at a young age, demonstrating why healthy programs and environment interventions can be very beneficial.
To begin, one action that can be extremely helpful is environmental interventions. This is an action in which you become more involved in trying to help your community by for example trying to lower the prices of local veggies and fruits, building a playground, becoming more involved in school, lunch food etc. These are just a few examples but the purpose is to get involved with your community to make a difference by essentially enforcing healthier life choices. Studies have shown positive results in groups that had both family and community involvement. This work is mainly revolved around children between the ages of two to ten. An example of a successful act was a garden intervention. This act helped increase exposure to healthier food options such as fruits and vegetables. This helped because it allowed children to become more involved in a community garden increasing physical activity and allowing children to take these lessons back home and turn them into actions. According to “A Review of Promising Multicomponent Environmental Child Obesity Prevention Intervention Strategies by the Children’s Healthy Living Program” the garden based nutrition program showed sufficient increase in vitamin A, Vitamin C and fiber consumption in children between the ages of 10-13. As you can see results can be promising if the problem is targeted and addressed.
To further my argument a big cause for child obesity is that children need educational interventions. To show the effectiveness of this idea, a program was performed at five schools. The children that participated were between the ages of nine to twelve years old. Most of the families living in this area have a low to mid socioeconomic status so an average of over seventy percent qualified for free lunch at the school. The program had four parts to it. The session would begin with a brief two minute dance exercise followed by a twenty minute presentation informing children about the proper definition of obesity, proper portion sizes, health consequences, and physical activity. Here characters were introduced to help make the presentation more kid friendly with names like Elvis Preztly and so on. The program continued with a ten minute hands on portion ending with a game that allowed the children to relearn everything from the program in a friendly game that they could bring home to their parents. By the end students were more aware of the sugar content in food and other unhealthy factors. They were able to correctly answer how much “fruit” is actually used in candies such fruit roll ups, they were properly able to define obesity and when they reported back the students were able to give specific details about the program and even wrote a thank you letter. According to “Can Elvis Pretzley and the Fitwits Improve Knowledge of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise, and Portions in Fifth Graders?” this program has helped keep the students engaged and realty did show a difference when comparing the test scores pre and post the educational intervention.
In all, childhood obesity is a growing issue that has affected our youths for a long time now. The percentages have only risen and have been estimated to double by 2030. Aside from interventions, there are still many things that can be done to address the issue. Every action counts regardless of the size of people involved. Simply volunteering with your local youth is enough. The key is to spread awareness and to put in effort. As you can see, simply presenting this information to the fifth graders showed major improvements on their health knowledge. Over seventy percent were reported to have written a thank you letter. Hopefully with enough involvement we will be able to reduce those numbers and educate ourselves more on the issue and other possible solutions. Our goal is to help bring down the numbers and every action counts.
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