Childhood Wellness-Childhood Obesity

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Obesity is a growing epidemic it affects not only adults but the nation’s youth as well, “today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese…”6 Generally, the most common causes for obesity for children is a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating. Genetic diseases or disorders are a less common cause of obesity.3 As children age they adopt characteristics and habits from the examples demonstrated to them. They are constantly learning and processing information in their everyday life on how they themselves should live. Children mimic their examples from; home, school, church, family and friends. If children have a healthy lifestyle set forth as an example such as “healthy eating and physical activity [this] can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.”4 A child however, does not have to be overweight to be physically unhealthy. There are skinny children that are not eating the proper nutrition or getting the recommended physical activity. To have a healthy generation of children it is important to focus not only on the children that my look unhealthy, but it is necessary to pay attention on all children. It may seem that obesity runs in the family and that it must be a genetic link, this could be a small reason, however, the shared behaviors among the family is most likely the root cause of being overweight or obese or just plan unhealthy.1 Children that are obese are more likely to develop diseases that are usually seen in adults, such as, “high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels.”6 Overweight or obese children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults, carrying their bad habits of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity into their adult life. “Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, which increases to 80 percent if one or more parent is overweight or obese.”5 Just as children that eat unhealthy and don’t exercise are likely to become adults with those same behaviors, skinny unhealthy children will become unhealthy adults. The CDC states that “children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems.”4 Children with a lack of overall physical wellness are at a higher risk of developing diseases in their early life. The solution to ending unhealthy lifestyles and creating healthier generations is not a quick and easy solution. The solution is physical activity and health nutritious foods, which may seem boring and in this generation we are all about fast fixes, however, this really is that best option. Nutritional and physical behaviors of children are heavily influenced by the adults that surround them in everyday life. If the adults that are around them eat healthy and get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity the child’s behavior is likely to reflect what is being shown. “On December 2, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This bipartisan legislation will give more children access to nutritious meals and remove junk food and sugary beverages from vending machines in schools.”6 Schools are moving toward having more of a nutritious option in school lunches and snacks so as a parent or garden of children it falls to you to provide the example of what the family eats. In the age of fast food restaurants and the option to super-size the super unhealthy food may make it seem like a chore to find and cook healthier options. There are a plethora of ideas, ranging from many ingredients to few and prep time from hours down to just minutes, on the internet when it comes to recipes for healthy and nutritious food. It may seem like there aren’t many different options when it comes to healthy food compared to several different fast food restaurants and the many different options on each of the menus. However, just looking up different recipes online allows you to expand your food vocabulary and try new foods that you have never heard of. “Only 21 percent of young people eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day,” according to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.5 So as you can see the youth in this country is severely lacking in eating the correct amount of nutritious foods. The youth are filling the lack of vegetables and fruit with processed foods and sugar creating a gap in their health. It isn’t enough to just provide healthier options; it needs to be taught that the healthier options are what they should want to eat. It is an important life skill to be able to decipher between different options and to choose the healthier one. Children have to be come self-sufficient otherwise when they become adults the other options will cloud their judgment and will be the option chosen. Physical activity is a big part of being and staying healthy. Playing at school and at home are vital parts of getting enough physical activity. Children ages 8-10 spend nearly 6 hours a day in front of a screen for entertainment, this is only the time spent for fun, it does not include time spent on homework with a computer.7 By limiting TV and computer time this allows for more of a structured time for playing and activity.2 “The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than age 2 and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.”3 A great way to reduce screen time would to remove the TV and computers from your child’s bedroom and place them in a more centralized location. Encourage your children to join sports teams and to go play outside. It is important to see the child as a whole entity. Not every “skinny” child is healthy and not every overweight child is unhealthy. Getting the right amount of nutrition and physical activity are very important parts of a child’s over all wellness.

References

1. M. D. Benaroch, R. (July 11, 2012). Obesity in Children. Children’s Health. Retrieved September 9, 2013 from http://children.webmd.com/guide/obesity-children


2. M.D. Iannelli, V. (2013). Too Little Too Late for Too Many Overweight Kids? Preventing Childhood Obesity Recommendations. Retrieved September 9, 2013 from http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/nutrition/a/childhd_obesity.htm


3. Mayo Clinic staff (May 4, 2012). Childhood Obesity. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 9, 2013 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-obesity/DS00698/DSECTION=risk-factors


4. (July 10, 2013). Adolescent and School Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 9, 3013 from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm


5. (2013). Childhood Obesity. Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Retrieved September 9, 2013 from http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/child_obesity/


6. (August 30,2013 ) Childhood Obesity Resources. American Heart Association. Retrieved September 9, 2013 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/Obesity/Childhood- Obesity_UCM_304347_Article.jsp?gclid=CKz6ibaOqbkCFahDMgodSyAA5w


7. (2013). Screen Time vs. Lean Time. Making Health Easier. Retrieved September 9, 2013 from http://makinghealtheasier.org/getmoving