Child and Adolescent Obesity in the United States

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Updated: Oct 19, 2023
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Child and Adolescent Obesity in the United States

Focusing on the broader age group affected by obesity, this essay would detail the rising prevalence of obesity in young individuals, its health implications, and the societal factors contributing to it. Potential solutions, both at the community and national levels, would also be explored. At PapersOwl, you’ll also come across free essay samples that pertain to Adolescence topic.

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Child and adolescent obesity in the United States has nearly tripled sincethe 70s. About 1 out of every 5 children suffer from childhood obesity. It is the duty ofmothers and fathers to prevent and find solutions to child and adolescent obesity. Thispaper will seek to explain the many causes and current results which parents can execute.Child and adolescent obesity comprises of several likely causes such as poor diet and lowphysical activity including numerous adverse effects. Therefore, changes in familyhousehold structures should be made in addition to keeping up to date with governmentalpolicies that improve better health practices.

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Child and adolescent obesity can be attributed to several likely causes. A lack of physical activity can increase a child’s risk for obesity. As a means to increase physical activity amongst youth, one study designed goal setting and reward intervention by keeping track of steps with pedometers. In particular, researchers used a rather small sample size, “ five typically developing children, 8 to 11 years old were recruited as participants through flyers placed throughout the community” (Ek, K. E., Miltenberger, R. G., & Valbuena, D. (2016). Subjects were grouped based on sex, BMI, and backup reinforcers. Researchers then assessed the children’s parents by issuing “a social validity questionnaire consisting of seven items rated on a 5-point scale” (Ek, K. E., Miltenberger, R. G., & Valbuena, D. (2016).

After, a multiple baseline design was used to test the effectiveness of the intervention, “the social validity results suggest that parents found the intervention effortful to very effortful to implement (4.5/5); it was not very disruptive on their child’s routine (1.75/5); it worked somewhat well (4/5); their child enjoyed participating very much (5/5); they enjoyed participating very much (4.75/5); their children were not very resistant to completing the daily step count (2.25/5); their children received the reward even if they did not complete the step count somewhat often (4.0/5); and two of the four parents followed through on consequences 50%–75% of the time and the other two 75%–100%” (Ek, K. E., Miltenberger, R. G., & Valbuena, D. (2016). Overall, the study failed to reject the null hypothesis, because the sample size was too small and there were confounding variables. For example, “parents rarely sent data on a daily basis and it made it difficult to make phase changes according to data” (Ek, K. E., Miltenberger, R. G., & Valbuena, D. (2016). Although this study may not have answered the question that feedback, goal setting, rewards, and prompts lower childhood obesity, we must not completely rule it out. Three out of five children were able to increase their step goal. If parents help their children set goals for exercise and reward them as a result, child and adolescent obesity rates in the United States are more likely to decrease. Apart from lack of physical activity, an inadequate diet consisting of fast foods and sugars can promote obesity. Genetic makeup such as becoming “increasingly responsive to what external environment signals about what and how much to eat, and rely less on their internal signals,” (MOORE, E. S., WILKIE, W. L., & DESROCHERS, D. M. (2017) can too increase obesity rates.

Additional causes of child and adolescent obesity are parental factors such bad eating habits, lack of physical activity, and socioeconomic factors. There are countless effects that result from child and adolescent obesity.The physical effects can lead to “health problems and obesity-related disease such as elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart-diseases” (Mahmood, L. (2015). A literature review chose to go in more depth about the effects of these diseases, especially diabetes. Diabetes is directly associated with obesity and specifically type 2 diabetes is what effects obese children at a young age. It was found that, “patients on sulfonylureas or insulin increased their body weight by 4.0 kg and from 1.7 to 2.6 kg; gaining more weight than normal is considered as catastrophic and a disaster for diabetic patients who have struggled for many years trying to lose the excess weight or at least maintain their weight on the normal ranges, because there is protein, which released from fat cells into blood stream and it can cause the children body to become desensitized to insulin, which means that the pancreas will start to produce more insulin in order to counteract the negative effects, and then because of large amount insulin secretion, the pancreas will become overworked and slow down or even stop the releasing of insulin, which could lead to diabetes” (Mahmood, L. (2015). In order to obtain these results, researchers compared variability of age and sex to BMI of children and adolescents from several studies, including a study out of Canada. Results from the study from Canada has “remained true 2 and 4 years from baseline” (Mahmood, L. (2015).

This ultimately increased the reliability and validity of the information pertaining to physical effects and health risk of child and adolescent obesity that the researchers discussed throughout the literature review. While the main focus of the review was not solely based on health disparities attributed from direct causes of child and adolescent obesity, it aided in shedding some light on the physical toll that children and adolescent may suffer from as a result of being overweight. The social effects relating to childhood obesity increase weight stigma and bullying. This in turn leads to psychological effects such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and lowered self-esteem. Environmental effects include unsafe surroundings and lack of healthy food options. It is no secret that child and adolescent obesity effects youth in more ways than not, coincidentally when it pertains to long-term health disparities due to being overweight. Economic burdens such as the price of food, medical cost, technology, and income all have negative impacts on child and adolescent obesity. Food cost and income go hand in hand when it comes to the rise in childhood obesity rates. In the article, All in the Family, researchers state that, “ in the United States a disportionate number of obese children live in poverty, intersecting with ethnicity and gender to produce important differences” (MOORE, E. S., WILKIE, W. L., & DESROCHERS, D. M. (2017). For instance, African American girls ages 6-11 and African American boys ages 6-11 have some of the highest obesity rates. Nearly 1 out of every 5 boys and about 1 in 5 girls who live in poverty are overweight. The lower the socioeconomic status, the harder it is to gain access to healthier foods. Food prices have gone through the roof in the past 5 to 6 years. “In 2012, 10% of US households with children were estimated to be food insecure, indicating problems with either the quality or quantity of food available at some point during the year”(MOORE, E. S., WILKIE, W. L., & DESROCHERS, D. M. (2017).

This allows for an increase in unhealthy eating habits like foods high in fats and sugars and puts a substantial burden on families to buy healthy foods from the supermarket because prices are way higher for healthier options. Unhealthy eating leads to medical issues as the ones mentioned above such as diabetes and heart disease.Increased health issues increase medical cost and become an economic burden on society. “The economic impact on healthcare costs of childhood obesity-related illnesses is estimated at $14 billion per year (NAtional League of Cities [NLC], 2017). Medical expenses from complications and comorbidities of obesity are foreseen to rise steeply because obese children today might plausibly become obese adults” (Durbin, J. (2018). Technology is typically known for its negative correlation to sedentary behaviors like decreased physical activity ultimately promoting weight gain. In fact, “technology is becoming easier to access for all children, including children in underprivileged families. Negative health consequences are rising due to the increased accessibility of technology to children and the amount of time spent playing on devices” (Jamruk, K. (2017). The leading health issue as the rise in technology climbs is child and adolescent obesity. One study seeks to put an end to that stigma. In this study, there is no direct sample size, researchers just want to prove that children do not have to give up sedentary lifestyles. A way that sedentary lifestyles can be improved is by wearing a fitness tracker, in particular the Fitbit. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC recommends that children play at least 60 minutes per day, but spending the majority of time with technological devices takes away active play from children”(Jamruk, K. (2017).

Fitness trackers essentially will reduce physical inactivity because it will be a motivational force to improve exercise habits. Other advantages to fitness trackers are that “fitness trackers provide a positive and inviting social element in which one can link up with friends via the smartphone application to encourage and challenge each other in a non hostile environment” (Jamruk, K. (2017). The goal of this research is to decrease prevalence and incidence rates among children and adolescents who are obese and for those that will become obese. According to research, “Fitbit users increased their physical activity by 43% when initially wearing the device” (Jamruk, K. (2017). In order to come up this percent, researchers used the P (characteristic), it simply takes the number of persons with the characteristic over the total number of persons in the population. To distinguish between sex and age, categorical variables were determined and simple random sampling methods were used.The studies that can be conducted for future reference are cohort, clinical trials, or cross-sectional. Assuming they want a sample size greater than 30, a z-statis test will yield greater results. If the sample size is smaller than 30 then there will not be enough power to reject the null hypothesis. The confounding variable would be the fitness tracker. This is a very promising study, but as we know not everything that glitters is gold and of course there are disadvantages of fitness trackers. The underlying message is that technology can be beneficial if used in ways to increase productivity and limit the amount of economic strain on society to further prevent child and adolescent obesity in the US.

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Child and Adolescent Obesity in the United States. (2020, May 10). Retrieved from