Childhood Obesity Affects Children and Adolescents
There is a growing social issue that is happening throughout the world today and it is called childhood obesity. According to Mayo Clinic, “Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. Children who are obese are above the normal weight for their age and height”. Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. Only in rare cases is being overweight caused by a medical condition such as a hormonal problem. Childhood obesity can also create health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and these concerns can even follow them throughout adults. An estimated 43 million preschool children worldwide (under age 5) were overweight or obese in 2010, this is a 60 percent increase since 1990. “Of the world’s 43 million overweight and obese preschoolers, 35 million live in developing countries. By 2020, if the current epidemic continues unabated, 9 percent of all preschoolers will be overweight or obese-nearly 60 million children”(Harvard School of Public Health). Prevention for childhood obesity therefore needs to be a priority. Those who are in poverty are predominately people of color and as you can see from the chart above there is a high percentage of children of color who were diagnosed with childhood obesity. According to Centers of Disease Control,
“Overall, non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults and youth had a higher prevalence of obesity compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups. Obesity prevalence was lower among non-Hispanic Asian men and women compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups. Among men, obesity prevalence was similar between non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white men, but obesity prevalence was higher among Hispanic men compared with non-Hispanic black men. For women, obesity prevalence was similar among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women, and both groups had a higher prevalence of obesity than non-Hispanic white women. Among youth, obesity prevalence among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic youth was higher than both non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Asian youth. This pattern was similar among boys and girls”
In other words, Hispanics and Blacks have a higher risk to get childhood obesity or obesity throughout adults simply because of their environment and where they live. The common characteristics of poverty are low income, unemployment, lack of access to fresh produce, and etc. These characteristics are making it difficult for parents to provide for their children and large fast food corporations preys on this. If you go outside and try to find a fast food restaurant, you will notice most are in poorer communities. Along with the location, they also have cheap prices and this is how they get their customers. In addition, large fast food businesses understands that the food they provide can cause many health concerns. However, they do not care because their only concern is making money. This is relevant in many cases for those who are in poverty because people in society ignore the fact poverty even exist and continue to let people live that lifestyle.
The graph above demonstrates that there has been a rise in both obesity in adults and childhood obesity. This is significant because this graph will continue to grow until society does something about it. Maintaining a healthy weight is an extremely important part of overall health. Being overweight or obese contributes to numerous health conditions that limit the quality and length of life, including: Hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, Coronary heart disease, Stroke, Gallbladder disease, and etc. In addition to a child’s physical health, it can greatly affect the mental health of a child as well. Obesity can exert a major effect on how children feel about themselves and how they interact with others. Obese kids often develop low self-esteem, which may affect different aspects of their lives, such as the development of friendships and participation at school. Therefore, it is important to pursue healthy lifestyles onto children, so they can avoid these physical and mental health problems and enjoy life.