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Childhood Obesity

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“It is just staggering…this whole epidemic of obesity is sweeping across the country!” (DeNoon). More and more children are becoming obese as families are eating out regularly and food portions are increasing. There is also a great decrease in physical activity among children, leaving the excess calories children are consuming to be stored as fat (DeNoon). Dr. Tim Crowe states that obesity is “so serious that a group of children are not going to outlive their parents” (“Fight on Fat”). Furthermore, children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults (Torgan). Although childhood obesity may seem of concern only to a small group of parents, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about the welfare of themselves and half the population (DeNoon). We need to stop this epidemic to prevent health risks and social discrimination among many people in the population, and the best way to stop this epidemic is to prevent obesity in children. To prevent childhood obesity, parents should be role models for their children and make their diets and physical lifestyles healthier. In addition, children should learn how to eat healthy and get enough physical exercise.

Researchers are finding many causes for obesity (Kendall). They found that both genetics and environment contributes to obesity (Kendall). Researchers determined that genetics account for about 5 to 25 percent of the cause of obesity; therefore, the environment plays the largest role (Kendall). Many studies have found that genes and the environment may interact with each other because “children with obese parents are more likely to be obese” (Kendall). Parents may give children the genes that cause obesity, and they may also raise children in an environment that causes obesity. Since the environment contributes to obesity more than genetics, I find that it makes it very realistic for parents to prevent obesity in their children. There is a large chance that no matter what genes a child is born with, his or her parents can hinder obesity by changing their home environment. They can change it by becoming more active and eating healthier. Parents should make the environment they raise their children in healthier, so children may learn to live healthier.

Carol Torgan, Ph.D., asserts that it is very important to prevent obesity in children because obese children have higher chances of developing health risks throughout their lives (Torgan). Obesity causes early death and it “may soon top smoking as the nation’s most preventable cause of death” (“Childhood Obesity”). Moreover, obese children may develop type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, liver disease, and asthma (Torgan). The amount of prescriptions dispensed for type II diabetes has doubled in the past four years (Wilshire). Children can also develop orthopedic problems such as hip problems and the overgrowth of leg bones (“Obesity”). Diseases amounted with obesity can affect children’s lives drastically. Being overweight alone may impair a child’s life, but having a disease as a result affects a child more negatively. I insist that it is crucial to prevent obesity in children since it is very likely for overweight children to have health problems. Avoiding obesity leads to a child’s optimal health and the child may then be able to reap the benefits of his or her childhood and develop normally. Ultimately, what is at stake here is the health of obese children. Parents and their children should try to prevent obesity, so these children can live healthier and longer lives.

It is necessary for the public to learn about the consequences of obesity (Hellmich). Nanci Hellmich, writer for USA Today, argues that “there should be attention-grabbing posters and advertisements that illustrate grim health consequences, such as heart attacks, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes” to show people how dangerous obesity is (Hellmich). These advertisements will not only educate children about the severity of obesity, but they will also educate parents. Most parents do not realize the horrible consequences of obesity. If someone were to ask me how much harm obesity was to a person’s health before I actually researched the topic, I would say there was minimal harm. I feel that educating parents will motivate them to change their lifestyles and the lifestyles of their families.

The causes for obesity such as people consuming high calorie foods and doing less physical activity may intertwine (Technology). One study at Harvard University found that technology has made it more easy and convenient for people to make food; thus, people eat more often and do less work preparing the food leading to weight gain (Technology). I agree with this theory because although I eat basically all the same foods as my mom, it is harder for me to maintain healthy weight than it is for my mom, and she prepares the meals for my family every day. This is one of the many possible causes for obesity. No matter what the cause of obesity is for a given person, it is most likely due to high calorie intake and less physical activity. Parents must decrease their families’ intake of high calorie foods and increase activity to keep their children from gaining weight.

Parents can make many changes to create a healthier environment at home for their families. According to Regina Wilshire, the writer of “Weight of the Evidence” and a mother herself, it is ultimately the parents’ choice what food the child eats at home: “In my mind, the only person responsible in such a scenario is me - I bought the junk food and I fed it to my one made me do it, no one forced my hand and, conversely, no one can make me buy or feed it to my child” (Wilshire). She asserts that it is hers and other parents’ responsibility to feed their children healthy food (Wilshire). I support Wilshire, and I assert that it is important for parents to realize that they can greatly impact their children’s health. Children learn how to live their lives from their parents; therefore parents must make sure their actions positively influence their children. I find that most of my habits and my lifestyle are the same as my parents’. It is the parents’ responsibility to mold their children into responsible adults and one factor is to teach them to eat right.

To teach children good eating habits, parents should reduce their family’s intake of high calorie foods and instead buy fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks (“Childhood Obesity”). Parents should help their children



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