In the last three decades, childhood obesity has tripled. In the United States, obesity rate for children between the ages of 6-11 years has increased from 7 percent in 1980 to approximately 20 percent in 2008. Similarly, those between the age brackets of 12-19, which represent the adolescent, have recorded an increase from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period. In the year 2008, of all children more than one third was obese or overweight. Overweight refers to having surfeit body weight for a definite height from muscle, fat, water, bone, or a mixture of these factors, whereas, obesity refers a situation where an individual has excess body fat.
Obesity and overweight occur due to caloric imbalance that is for every calories intake, a small amount is utilized. This is due to factors like behavioral, genetic and environmental. The well-being and health effect of childhood obesity is both immediate and long-term. Research indicates that among obese youths of 5-17 age brackets, 70 percent are expected to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure (Krebs, 2007). In addition, they are prone to sleep apnea, joints and bone problems, and psychological and social problems such as poor self-esteem and stigmatization. Moreover, in the long-term research, it indicates that those children who were obese at an earlier age of two have a high probability of being obese when they reach adulthood; thus, they are at risk of adulthood health problems such as stroke, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, this health condition is associated with high risk for colon, prostate, kidney, gall bladder, ovary, cervix, thyroid, pancreas, endometrium, esophagus, and breast cancer, as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma (Pařízková & Hills, 2005).
The possible solutions necessary to curb this health condition are the changing the lifestyle habits, for instance, healthy eating and adequate physical activity. These healthy lifestyle habits if adopted can lower the risk of being obese and acquiring related diseases (Burns & Grove, 2009). Again, the behavior of children in terms of diet and physical activity are externally influenced by different sectors of the society such as, families, schools, communities, childcare settings, faith-based institutions, the media, government agencies, medical care providers, entertainment industries and food and beverage industries. This means that such behaviors can be influenced for better. Moreover, in a school setting, it plays a critical role through the establishment of supportive and safe environment with practices and policies that strengthen and support healthy behaviors. In addition, schools provide students with an opportunity of learning about and practicing healthy eating as well as healthy physical activity behaviors (Paxon, 2006).
The communities and states can assess the retail food environment for children in order to understand the existing differences in relation to healthier food accessibility. This is beneficial as all the children will be able to access the necessary and sufficient food. Give incentives to farmers’ markets and existing supermarkets to sell healthier food or have subsidiaries in low-income places. Again, the community and state can expand their programs of availing vegetables and local fruits at schools as well as erecting salad bars near or inside schools. Parents together with other authorities can also work to ensure that children consume less of sugar and more of vegetables.
Burns, N., & Grove, S. K. (2009). The practice of nursing research: Appraisal, synthesis, and generation of evidence. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.
Krebs, N. F. (2007). Assessment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity. London: Sage.
Pařízková, J., Hills, A. P. (2005). Childhood obesity: prevention and treatment. New York: CRC Press.
Paxon, C. (2006). Childhood Obesity: The Future of Children. Princeton: Brookings Institution Press.