- Term Papers and Free Essays

The Children Of Today Are Becoming More Obese

Essay by   •  March 6, 2011  •  3,035 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,492 Views

Essay Preview: The Children Of Today Are Becoming More Obese

Report this essay
Page 1 of 13

Many diseases plague our nation today: cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which in itself can lead to blindness, neuropathy (nerve damage), and kidney failure. These diseases have invaded the lives of people for many years. People who have been diagnosed with these diseases have undergone extensive treatment, painful surgeries, and many have died. In the past, we have associated these diseases with adults. But today, these diseases are being found in children.

The increase of diseases in children is linked to childhood obesity. Over the past years, childhood obesity has grown tremendously in the United States. "According to the latest federal figures, the percentage of youngsters age six to eleven who are overweight has tripled since the 1960s. As many as one in five kids is overweight or obese" (Ellin XXXVI). Obesity in children is "now an epidemic in the United States" (Torgan 1). This epidemic is not limited to a particular age group or race, though it is more predominant in African-Americans; it's occurring in youth and adolescents in every race, in both boys and girls. Without proper treatment, children are more likely to become obese adults and develop major health problems.

Obesity is defined as an excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity is present when total body weight is more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls (Lohman 98-99). Although childhood obesity is often defined as a weight-for-

height in excess of 120 percent of the ideal, skin fold measures are more accurate determinants of fatness (Dietz 676-686; Lohman 100-102). Skin fold thickness is a

technique used to assess body composition by measuring a double thickness of skin at specific body sites. The triceps alone, triceps and subscapular (just beneath the shoulder blade), triceps and calf, and calf alone have been used with children and adolescents.


When the triceps and calf are used, a sum of skin folds of 10-25mm is considered optimal for boys, and 16-30mm is optimal for girls (Lohman 101).

Because fat must have a source from which to increase, diet is an obvious contributor to obesity in children. Dietary guidelines recommend that children between the ages of 6 and 11 should receive about 1800 calories a day, with 50% from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 20% from protein (Bastin, 47). With the ready availability of high calorie/high carbohydrate soft drinks, fruit juice, and high carbohydrate snacks, children's diets have become increasingly less nutritious. Surveys conducted among children and teenagers have shown that 7 out of 10 children eat fruit once a day, and 5 out of 10 teenagers eat fruit once a day (Bastin, 47). Because children are replacing the missing fruit servings with high calorie snacks, weight gain will occur dramatically over time. An over consumption of 50-100 calories can lead to a gain of 5-10 pounds a year (Oklahoma Cooperative, 1). Many parents mistakenly encourage carbohydrates with a high-glycemic value as substitutes for fat and protein. High-glycemic carbohydrates prevent fat breakdown and drive fat into fat deposits, causing fat to accumulate, which occurring in high levels is obesity. The era of home cooking has all but disappeared from our society, with meals being replaced with pizza, or fast food creating yet another innutritious aspect of children's diets. Carbohydrates also take far less time to empty from the stomach than do those foods high in fat or protein, causing hunger (Buffington, 14). A child having eaten a bowl of cereal for breakfast is likely to be hungry by mid-morning with the need for a snack. At school, he or she may satisfy their mid-morning hunger with yet another high carbohydrate food such as a soda, candy,


cookies, or a bag of chips. These poor food choices are contributing to the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity.

According to Torgan, "The number of children who are overweight has doubled in the last two to three decades" (2). Several factors have contributed to the rising numbers of obese children. Lack of physical activity is the leading cause of obesity in children. Children have decreased their involvement in physical activities, and have increased their involvement in sedentary activities. Time that was once used for exercising and playing sports is now being used to watch television, surf the internet, or play video games. For example, several studies by Dietz have found that increased television viewing increases the percentage of time children spend on sedentary activities. Without a corresponding reduction in caloric intake, obesity may result ("Television" 543-550). Many health care professionals prescribe impact type exercises for obese children; however, these children often suffer from joint pain or discomfort because of their excess weight, and often do not follow this advice.

Poor eating habits and the environment has also contributed to overweight children. Children are now consuming more foods that are high in calories. They are more inclined to eating when not hungry, eating while watching television, and/or eating

while doing homework. Eating well-balanced, home-cooked meals together as a family has become almost obsolete. Instead, they rely on fast food that is cheap and convenient. In an attempt to increase earnings, fast food franchises advertise appealing and tasteful foods that are high in calories. Additionally, we as consumers are more inclined to "super-size" or "king-size" a value meal order because it may be a better value for the


money. But by doing this, we add more calories to a meal that is already high in calories. Everybody knows the child that can eat any type of food all day and never seem to gain weight. This occurrence has led researchers to investigate the role that genetics plays in childhood obesity. Not all children who are inactive or who eat poorly are obese, much in the same way that some obese children eat fairly healthy, and exercise moderately. Heredity has recently been shown to influence body fat percentage, regional fat storage, and the body's response to overeating (Rush, 1). Children who have obese parents are 80% more likely to be obese than their lean parented counterparts (Buffington, 16). This familial correlation is contributed to genetics as well as the parents eating habits. Children with obese parents typically aren't taught the correct way to choose when and what food to eat, leading to poor eating habits and eventually obesity. Many genetic defects can have a significant effect on obesity such as variable thyroid



Download as:   txt (19 Kb)   pdf (195.1 Kb)   docx (16.8 Kb)  
Continue for 12 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 03). The Children Of Today Are Becoming More Obese. Retrieved 03, 2011, from

"The Children Of Today Are Becoming More Obese" 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011 <>.

"The Children Of Today Are Becoming More Obese.", 03 2011. Web. 03 2011. <>.

"The Children Of Today Are Becoming More Obese." 03, 2011. Accessed 03, 2011.