History of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Before the 1980’s it was uncommon for children to be overweight. The early onset adult diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease was not an issuer (A.D.A.M. Inc.). In the 1980’s weights were constant, but after a certain point they started to increase at tremendously high levels (A.D.A.M. Inc.). Today “among children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 nearly 17 percent are obese and close to 32 percent are overweight or obese” (Parker, Miller, Ovaitt, and Olson 1).

Even though childhood obesity became a bigger issue in the 1980’s, it was not until 2010 when medical professionals began stating that children were obese (Warren and Smalley 12). The medical professionals determined the child’s weight category by measuring the child’s BMI, which compares the child’s height to weight and is adjusted for the child’s age and gender and compares it to the CDC’s Growth Chart in the United States (“Innovations in Addressing Childhood Obesity” 9). The child is put into a percentile based on the United States population  at the same age and gender. If the child is in the 85th to 95th percentile they are considered overweight  and if they are in the 95th or higher percentile they are considered obese (“Innovations in Addressing Childhood Obesity” 9). One issue with placing a child into a certain weight category based on similar demographics in correlation with the CDC charts is that all of the populations groups are getting bigger (Warren and Smalley 18-21). This is creating skewed results, since the charts are not adjusted for the changing of weight within society (Warren and Smalley 18-21). As a result this may not actually show the correct area of the weight spectrum for the child.

This generation is sicker and has the potential to die earlier than their parents because of the extra weight and the affects that it has on their bodies (“Innovations in Addressing Childhood Obesity” 2). This includes having the pre conditions of type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses when they are less than ten years old (A.D.A.M Inc.) Even though children learn they are obese from medical professionals and can obtain illnesses from obesity, it does not mean that obesity is a medical condition as many people believe (Warren and Smalley 1). Although obesity can cause medical issues now and in the future, it is more of a behavioral problem (Warren and Smalley 1). By thinking of and establishing it as a medical condition, people assume there is a “quick fix” like many other illnesses that are resolved by western medicine (Warren and Smalley 2). For obesity that is not the case, since there is no pill or medicine that is able to “cure” obesity. The ways to prevent children from being obese is by changing their daily lifestyle and behavioral choices, such as eating nutritious food and exercising.

Childhood is about growing, developing, and gaining knowledge on how to live in the future (Warren and Smalley 100). This epidemic needs to be stopped because the short and long term affects can result in a less productive life. By deeming obesity as a behavioral issue, it is encompassing society to make educational changes to help end this epidemic in children. It is not an individual problem focused on children, but many society sectors are involved in making changes benefiting children now to enhance their futures. These sectors need to work together to determine what each can do to curb this epidemic. The sectors involved are the family (especially parents), the school/ the child care environment, the medical sector, and the local, state, and national government.

Work Cited

A.D.A.M. Inc. Childhood Obesity. Film Media Group, 2011. Film.

Parker, Lynn, Emily Ann Miller, Elena Ovaitt, and Stephen Olson. Bridging the Evidence Gap in

Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making. Washington D.C.: The National Academics Press. 2010. Print.

United States House of Representatives. “Innovations in Addressing Childhood Obesity.” U.S.

Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce. Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 16 December 2009. Hearing. Web. 1 November 2013.

Warren, Jacob C. and K. Bryant Smalley. “Always the Fat Kid: The Truth About the Enduring

Effects of Childhood Obesity.” New York: Pagrave Macmillan. 2013. Print.

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What I hope to accomplish through this blog

For this blog, I will be exploring the childhood obesity epidemic. This is particularly interesting to me because of how different a disease it is and how much affect it has on children and society in the future. As a student I am just trying to educate parents about the topic. By learning about it they will see how to make changes with their children. Since I am not a parent I am not able to judge parents for what they have been doing. I will try to have them learn simple lifestyle changes that can be done with their children that can have lasting effects on their children’s future health.  It is not only parents that need these lessons. Educators to children need to incorporate these ideas routinely in their lessons to reinforce what is being done in the home so that children realize this is a lifestyle they need to follow inside and outside the home throughout their live. Also, offering ideas for policy implementation in different levels of society can help suppress the rate of the epidemic. The rapid spread of this disease needs to be stopped for the future of our society to grow and be healthy.

I am hoping to look at a variety of sources to gather information around this topic, such as books, journal articles, interviews, new articles, online sources, and other sources that could be found.

 Photo credit: http://www.wqed.org/tv/specials/childhood-obesity.php