Site Loader

Obesity can be broadly defined as a body condition that arises as result of excess fat being stored in the various tissues of the body. Naturally, the human body stores fat in several parts of the body as a source of energy and help in insulating the human body and protecting the organs. However, when there is excessive accumulation of fat, the body of both children and grownups it can result to a number of health complications that include obesity, coronary diseases of the heart, stroke, and different forms of cancer, arthritis, diabetes mellitus and hypertension (Grundy 226“245).

In US, 32% of the obese population are children. By 1960, it was around 12%. Between the years 1980 and 2000, obesity within the adults doubled while the number of teenagers and children tripled (Yvonne, p1139). There are a number of facts about obesity in children and they are as follows; the total percentage of adolescents and children who are overweight has been doubled from 1970s. It is amazing that 15 percent of children between the age of 9-18 years are overweight (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, online). Obesity has resulted to disruption in sleep related breathing that is four times more. Children between the ages of 7-15 spend five or more hours watching television in a day. High school students spend two to three hours of exercise every other day (Yvonne, p1137).

Medical experts have come up with methods of measuring the obese conditions. They have developed scientific methods such as the body mass index. The body mass index has been accepted and has been widely used worldwide. Body mass index assist in understanding if one has too much weight, this is calculated mathematically by the height in squared meters of an individual, and his/her weight (Yvonne, p1140). Individuals that register a body mass index between 25. 0 and 30 are known to be overweight. While those with a body mass index above 30 are said to be obese.

Other scholars have however challenged the application of body mass index to determine the obesity or overweight of children; this is mainly because there are a number of factors that may affect the weight of a child in addition to their height. For example, children with huge muscles tissues will weigh more than those who have similar size of fat and they are not overweight and obese. Children who have a likelihood of developing obese or being overweight should ensure that they maintain a significant mass index so as to avoid complication that are related to accumulation of excessive fat in the body.

Obesity is not a childhood disease and understanding the causes of childhood obesity between the age of six and eleven years can provide the opportunity to focus research, resources, and interventions in directions that would be most beneficial in addressing the problem. The remainder of this document provides an overview of the existing research on the causes of childhood obesity and how it can be controlled.

Obesity is not a childhood disease but it is rather caused by a number factor that includes the changing lifestyles that are accompanied by change in eating habits and patterns. Unhealthy eating patterns that have resulted to excusive intake of energy, most factors that have caused overweight in children between the age of six and eleven do not work solely but involve a combination of factors (Jahns, Siega-Riz & Popkin, 493-498).

To date, research has been unable to isolate the effects of a single factor due to the co-linearity of the variables as well as research constraints. Specific causes for the increase in prevalence of childhood obesity are not clear and establishing causality is difficult since longitudinal research in this area is limited. Such research must employ long study times to discern if there is an interaction of factors leading to an increase in the prevalence or the prevention of obesity during childhood and adolescence (Guthrie & Frazao, 2-10). Underreporting total food intake, misreporting of what was eaten, and over reporting physical activity are all likely potential biases that may affect the outcomes of studies in this area.

This research paper is focusing obesity among children aged between 6 and 11 years because currently, obesity is a major concern to everyone in the society. Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults; at least 300 million of these are obese. Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases that include type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. The key causes of obesity are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.

Many children are obese and many more are continuing to gain excessive weight, which seems to be at the blink of getting obese. Most Americans are not concerned, after all, they are just kids and the Americans assume that as the kids, grow up they will grow out of it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A random survey in most residential areas revealed that in urban areas, there are a high number of overweight and obese children when compared to the rural areas. There has been Physical, psychological and social economic effects of obesity on children. Obesity has become an epidemic that World Health Organization officials have decided that they need to take a more aggressive approach. Hospital bills associated with overweight children have tripled over the last decade.

The bills have shifted from $35 million in 1980s to $ 126 million.

Type II diabetes has been a major concern in the recent years, with the number of children diagnosed with these disease having risen significantly. This has however affected them up to adulthood. Currently, more that 25 percent of obese children are struggling with diabetes in adulthood. This is a difficult condition to treat and it is unfortunate that it is caused by obesity, which can easily be prevented and treated.

Obesity has also resulted to a number of psychological and physical effects in elementary school children. The major problem with this kind of condition in children is low esteem and discrimination by other children of their age. Children at the age between six years and eleven years are friendly but when it comes to the obese children in school, they are very cruel calling them all sorts of names that ridicules them. This makes the obese children feel out of place or develop aggressive behavior. Children who are not obese do not befriend the obese children and the obese remain isolated with no friends to associate with. A study was done on obese children and how they would rate their quality of life, their scores were as low as cancer patients going through chemotherapy (Torgan, online).

Other studies that were conducted on both obese and non-obese children on their ability to perform tasks, sleep, play different types of sport, and keep up with the rest of the school indicated that the score for obese children were lower than those of an average child. Obese children are therefore at risk of developing psychological and eating disorders along with other physical limitations. Obesity affects severely and majority of them hardly finish their school successfully. There have been increased dropout rates of obese children due to discrimination and those who stick hardly perform better (Arenz et al, 1247-1256).

Obesity in children poses a significant public health concern in the United States. According to the 1999-2002 NHANES survey, 16 percent of children ages 6-19 years are overweight. Not only have the rates of overweight increased, but also the heaviest children in a recent NHANES survey were markedly heavier than those in previous surveys (National Center for Health Statistics). Obesity in the U. S is a matter of concern now that it is reaching high proportions that are sending alarm bells to the health officials. Children are suffering in silence and there is no one out there to address this issue.

The bar graph below shows the prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents ages 6-19 years.

SOURCE: NHANES, CDC/NCHS, and NHES

There are a number of causes of obesity and they vary from changed lifestyle, biological, or genetically related. Obesity is partially determined by genetic makeup of an individual. The risk of becoming obese is higher among children whose parents are obese (Yvonne, p1132). This is mainly because of the parental modeling factors of exercise and eating behavior. A 1986 study dealing with children adopted immediately after birth revealed that the parents that adopted these children grew up to gain adult weights that were related to their biological parents as compared to their adoptee showing a clear indication that an individual genetic makeup determines their body weight (Yvonne, p1139). Scientists have not yet come up with an explanation of the genetic factor play in obesity. However, they believe that there are a number of genes that play a major role causing obesity in the human body. These gene interactions are somewhat complicated and involve a multiple interaction of lifestyle and genes.

Lifestyles have been changing in the last century, which includes reduced physical activities and increased calorie consumption, which has taken a major role in obesity prevalence in most developing countries. Currently, there are a variety of fast foods, soft drinks, pre-packed food that are readily available and affordable that people choose from and this has changed the eating habits and patterns. While such foods are convenient and time saving they have very high content of fat, calories and sugars (Bradbury, 225“230).

The amount of food that children are consuming has also increased and they tend to eat more during a snack meal. Research has also proved that people are currently eating with their children from fast food restaurants than from their homes as compared to early 1970s time. Majority of children eat in such fast food restaurants that serve large portions of high content fat food. Experts in the United States believe that high calorie content food have become the basic staple food for most families resulting to large consumption of fat and calories per se which increases the prevalence of obesity in young children and their parents ( Bradbury, 225“230).

Adults and children are spending a lot of their time in their usual activities (Bradbury). Due to advance in technology, young children have diversified their games to computer games, television watching, internet surfing and they rarely involve themselves in physical games. Adults on the other hand have long working hours and they hardly get time for physical exercises. In addition to this, there are a number of labors saving devices such as elevators so that the children no longer use the stairs. They also use vehicles to take them all round and remote controls that facilitate a sedentary lifestyle. Students hardly involve themselves in physical education programs in school and the extra calories and fats stored in the body are not broken down hence increasing the prevalence of obesity in such families and children (Obesity and weight management, online).

Some studies conducted on a number of adults and children indicated that 27% of adult admitted that they hardly have time for leisure while 90 percent of children hardly participate in physical games. The absences of physical activities have minimized the amount of energy spent in the whole day resulting to individuals that are overweight and obese (Obesity and weight management, online).

Data from research has indicated that either changes in the eating patterns for these children at school or at home may be correlated with increased obesity. Children at this age eat a lot of food away from home, drink many sugary drinks and snack more frequently. One of the American criteria for food is convenience resulting to more and more people eating away from home with their children whereby they buy ready to eat food in the restaurants or fast food joints rather than preparing a balanced meal at home.

There are some of the notable trends learned from studies of USDA’s Nationwide Food Consumption Survey and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. These studies demonstrate changes in eating patterns among American youth that illustrate the complexity that exists relating food intake to the increased prevalence of obesity

Children are getting more of their food away from home. Energy intake from away-from-home food sources increased from 20 to 32 percent from 1977-1978 to 1994-1996.

Daily total energy intake did not significantly increase for children 6-11, but did increase for adolescent girls and boys (ages 12-19 years) by 113 and 243 kilocalories, respectively (Enns et al, 25-27)

Daily total energy intake that children derived from energy dense (high calorie) snacks increased by approximately 121 kilocalories between 1977 and 1996 There has been a decline in breakfast consumption – especially for children of working mothers.

Portion sizes increased between 1977 and 1996. Average portion sizes increased for salty snacks from 1. 0 oz to 1. 6 oz and for soft drinks from 12. 2 oz to 19. 9 oz (Nielsen & Popkin, 450-453)

Those arguing that obesity is a childhood disease are mistakably wrong. Why it is that children from the urban areas are more likely to be obese as compared to children that are brought up in the rural setting? It is definite that lack of physical activities plays a major role in this. Experts have increasingly looked to the physical environment as a driver in the rapid increase of obesity in the United States.

In both suburban and urban areas, the developed environments provide an obstacle for children between the age of six and eleven years to be physically active. Urban areas lack enough space for outdoor creation activities and this restricts the children from having an unprotected play. Lack of street lights, neighborhood crimes especially child trafficking and kidnapping as well as unattended dogs inhibit children from playing safely in the neighborhood therefore restricting them in their houses.

The high standards of living in the urban areas compared to the rural areas have also played a major part in obese status of children between the age of six and eleven years. Children hardly walk to school but rather they are dropped and picked by their parents or houseboys and girls who are employed to serve their children, unlike in the rural areas where children spend a substantial amount of time traveling to and from school, therefore exercising and breaking the excess fat stored in their bodies. The high standards of living in the urban areas do not permit the urban children between the age of six and eleven years to indulge in any physical or manual job as compared to their rural counterparts who work in the gardens and carry out house chores therefore reducing the chances of obesity.

Urban children have access to the new technology such as computer and digital television, which consume most of their free time. They spend their free time watching television, movies and when they are playing, they only play computer games. Computer games are addictive and it is likely that they will sit in front of their computers to play games every time they are free. These computer games do not involve any physical movement and therefore they do not burn the excess fat stored in their bodies yet they eat excessively resulting to obesity.

Parents are also to be blamed for influencing and shaping the eating habits of their children from infancy to adulthood. These influences include poor infant feeding methods, and the variety of food that they make accessible and available for their children at home. Several studies suggest that breastfeeding offers a small but consistent protective effect against obesity in children (Arenz et al 1253-1256). This effect is most pronounced in early childhood. It has been hypothesized that exposure to complex sugars and fats contained in bottle formula influence «obesogenic factors» in infants, which predispose them to weight gain later on in life (Yajnik 217-224). Recent studies have postulated that breast-feeding does promote healthier eating habits since breastfed infants eat until they are satisfied while infants that are fed with formula eat until they have consumed all the formula. Breast feeding also may expose babies to more variability in terms of nutrition and tastes since formula fed infants have experience with only a single flavor, whereas breastfed infants are exposed to a variety of flavors from the maternal diet that are transmitted through the milk (Bonuck, K et. al, 535-540).

Studies have also shown that parental food preferences influence children preferences between the ages of six to eleven years. Children tend to adhere to what their parents prefer eating. In a study by Oliveria and colleagues, they reported that parents who ate diets high in saturated fats also had children that ate diets high in saturated fats. This observation is due to the kind of food that parents feed their children with.

There are increased cases of obesity among children between the ages of sit to eleven years as compared to the past where there were rare cases of obesity in children, Obesity has been recorded as the widespread medical complication-affecting majority of children between this age and adolescent children that are living in developing countries and developed countries. Obesity though pronounced in childhood is not a childhood diseases but it is facilitated by a number of factors majority being changes in lifestyles that have largely influenced our feeding habits that have causes of obesity among the young children and finally lack of exercises or physical activities among both children and adolescents. Obesity can be prevented and treated through proper management of food intake, especially fatty foots with many calories. A good physical exercise program is mandatory to all levels of children to help in burning down the excessive fat stored in the children body.

References

  • American Obesity Association. Obesity 2010. Retrieved 10 th April 2010. From ;
  • Arenz S, Rucker R, and von Kries R. В«Breast feeding and childhood obesity’a systematic review.В» International Journal of Obesity 2004; 28: 1247-1256.
  • Bonuck, K et. al. В«Is late bottle-weaning associated with overweight in young children? Analysis of NHANES III data. Clinical Pediatrics (Philadelphia) Jul. -Aug. 2004; 43(6): 535-40.
  • Bradbury AW, Darvall KA, Silverman SH, Sam RC, Adam DJ. “Obesity and thrombosis”. European Journal of Vascular Endovascular Surgery 33. 2(2007): 225“230.
  • CDC. Feb. 2005, 10 th April 2010, ;
  • Enns CW, Mickle SJ, Goldman JD. 2003. В«Trends in food and nutrient intakes by adolescents in the United StatesВ» Family Economics and Nutrition Review 15(2): 15-27.
  • Facts about Obesity in ChildrenВ» 11 th April 2010,
  • Grundy SM. “Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease”. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism. 90. 6 (2004): 226“245
  • Guthrie J, Frazao E. 1999b. Quality of children’s diets at and away from home: 1994-96. Food Review 2-10.
  • Jackson, Yvonne. (1993) В«Height, weight, and body mass index of
  • American Indian schoolchildrenВ», 1990-1991. Journal of the
  • American Dietetic Association. 93(10) 1136-1140.
  • Jahns L, Siega-Riz AM, Popkin BM. 2001. В«The increasing prevalence of snacking among US children from 1977 to 1996», Journal of Pediatrics 138(4): 493-498.
  • Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. В«Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977-1998» . Journal of the American Medical Association 289(4) (2003): 450-453.
  • Obesity and weight management, 2010, 11 th April 2010.
  • Torgan, C. (2002). Childhood obesity on the rise. The NIH Word on Health. 2002, April 10th 2010
  • Yajnik, CS. В«The lifecycle effects of nutrition and body size on adult adiposity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.В» Obesity Reviews 2002; 3: 217-224.

Lifestyles have been changing in the last century, which includes reduced physical activities and increased calorie consumption, which has taken a major role in obesity prevalence in most developing countries. Currently, there are a variety of fast foods, soft drinks, pre-packed food that are readily available and affordable that people choose from and this has changed the eating habits and patterns. While such foods are convenient and time saving they have very high content of fat, calories and sugars (Bradbury, 225”230).

The amount of food that children are consuming has also increased and they tend to eat more during a snack meal. Research has also proved that people are currently eating with their children from fast food restaurants than from their homes as compared to early 1970s time. Majority of children eat in such fast food restaurants that serve large portions of high content fat food. Experts in the United States believe that high calorie content food have become the basic staple food for most families resulting to large consumption of fat and calories per se which increases the prevalence of obesity in young children and their parents ( Bradbury, 225“230).

Adults and children are spending a lot of their time in their usual activities (Bradbury). Due to advance in technology, young children have diversified their games to computer games, television watching, internet surfing and they rarely involve themselves in physical games. Adults on the other hand have long working hours and they hardly get time for physical exercises. In addition to this, there are a number of labors saving devices such as elevators so that the children no longer use the stairs. They also use vehicles to take them all round and remote controls that facilitate a sedentary lifestyle. Students hardly involve themselves in physical education programs in school and the extra calories and fats stored in the body are not broken down hence increasing the prevalence of obesity in such families and children (Obesity and weight management, online).

Some studies conducted on a number of adults and children indicated that 27% of adult admitted that they hardly have time for leisure while 90 percent of children hardly participate in physical games. The absences of physical activities have minimized the amount of energy spent in the whole day resulting to individuals that are overweight and obese (Obesity and weight management, online).

Data from research has indicated that either changes in the eating patterns for these children at school or at home may be correlated with increased obesity. Children at this age eat a lot of food away from home, drink many sugary drinks and snack more frequently. One of the American criteria for food is convenience resulting to more and more people eating away from home with their children whereby they buy ready to eat food in the restaurants or fast food joints rather than preparing a balanced meal at home.

There are some of the notable trends learned from studies of USDA’s Nationwide Food Consumption Survey and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. These studies demonstrate changes in eating patterns among American youth that illustrate the complexity that exists relating food intake to the increased prevalence of obesity

Children are getting more of their food away from home. Energy intake from away-from-home food sources increased from 20 to 32 percent from 1977-1978 to 1994-1996.

Daily total energy intake did not significantly increase for children 6-11, but did increase for adolescent girls and boys (ages 12-19 years) by 113 and 243 kilocalories, respectively (Enns et al, 25-27)

Daily total energy intake that children derived from energy dense (high calorie) snacks increased by approximately 121 kilocalories between 1977 and 1996 There has been a decline in breakfast consumption – especially for children of working mothers.

Portion sizes increased between 1977 and 1996. Average portion sizes increased for salty snacks from 1. 0 oz to 1. 6 oz and for soft drinks from 12. 2 oz to 19. 9 oz (Nielsen & Popkin, 450-453)

Those arguing that obesity is a childhood disease are mistakably wrong. Why it is that children from the urban areas are more likely to be obese as compared to children that are brought up in the rural setting? It is definite that lack of physical activities plays a major role in this. Experts have increasingly looked to the physical environment as a driver in the rapid increase of obesity in the United States.

In both suburban and urban areas, the developed environments provide an obstacle for children between the age of six and eleven years to be physically active. Urban areas lack enough space for outdoor creation activities and this restricts the children from having an unprotected play. Lack of street lights, neighborhood crimes especially child trafficking and kidnapping as well as unattended dogs inhibit children from playing safely in the neighborhood therefore restricting them in their houses.

The high standards of living in the urban areas compared to the rural areas have also played a major part in obese status of children between the age of six and eleven years. Children hardly walk to school but rather they are dropped and picked by their parents or houseboys and girls who are employed to serve their children, unlike in the rural areas where children spend a substantial amount of time traveling to and from school, therefore exercising and breaking the excess fat stored in their bodies. The high standards of living in the urban areas do not permit the urban children between the age of six and eleven years to indulge in any physical or manual job as compared to their rural counterparts who work in the gardens and carry out house chores therefore reducing the chances of obesity.

Urban children have access to the new technology such as computer and digital television, which consume most of their free time. They spend their free time watching television, movies and when they are playing, they only play computer games. Computer games are addictive and it is likely that they will sit in front of their computers to play games every time they are free. These computer games do not involve any physical movement and therefore they do not burn the excess fat stored in their bodies yet they eat excessively resulting to obesity.

Parents are also to be blamed for influencing and shaping the eating habits of their children from infancy to adulthood. These influences include poor infant feeding methods, and the variety of food that they make accessible and available for their children at home. Several studies suggest that breastfeeding offers a small but consistent protective effect against obesity in children (Arenz et al 1253-1256). This effect is most pronounced in early childhood. It has been hypothesized that exposure to complex sugars and fats contained in bottle formula influence В«obesogenic factorsВ» in infants, which predispose them to weight gain later on in life (Yajnik 217-224). Recent studies have postulated that breast-feeding does promote healthier eating habits since breastfed infants eat until they are satisfied while infants that are fed with formula eat until they have consumed all the formula. Breast feeding also may expose babies to more variability in terms of nutrition and tastes since formula fed infants have experience with only a single flavor, whereas breastfed infants are exposed to a variety of flavors from the maternal diet that are transmitted through the milk (Bonuck, K et. al, 535-540).

Studies have also shown that parental food preferences influence children preferences between the ages of six to eleven years. Children tend to adhere to what their parents prefer eating. In a study by Oliveria and colleagues, they reported that parents who ate diets high in saturated fats also had children that ate diets high in saturated fats. This observation is due to the kind of food that parents feed their children with.

There are increased cases of obesity among children between the ages of sit to eleven years as compared to the past where there were rare cases of obesity in children, Obesity has been recorded as the widespread medical complication-affecting majority of children between this age and adolescent children that are living in developing countries and developed countries. Obesity though pronounced in childhood is not a childhood diseases but it is facilitated by a number of factors majority being changes in lifestyles that have largely influenced our feeding habits that have causes of obesity among the young children and finally lack of exercises or physical activities among both children and adolescents. Obesity can be prevented and treated through proper management of food intake, especially fatty foots with many calories. A good physical exercise program is mandatory to all levels of children to help in burning down the excessive fat stored in the children body.

References

  • American Obesity Association. Obesity 2010. Retrieved 10 th April 2010. From ;
  • Arenz S, Rucker R, and von Kries R. В«Breast feeding and childhood obesity’a systematic review.В» International Journal of Obesity 2004; 28: 1247-1256.
  • Bonuck, K et. al. В«Is late bottle-weaning associated with overweight in young children? Analysis of NHANES III data. Clinical Pediatrics (Philadelphia) Jul. -Aug. 2004; 43(6): 535-40.
  • Bradbury AW, Darvall KA, Silverman SH, Sam RC, Adam DJ. “Obesity and thrombosis”. European Journal of Vascular Endovascular Surgery 33. 2(2007): 225“230.
    CDC. Feb. 2005, 10 th April 2010, ;
  • Enns CW, Mickle SJ, Goldman JD. 2003. В«Trends in food and nutrient intakes by adolescents in the United StatesВ» Family Economics and Nutrition Review 15(2): 15-27.
  • Facts about Obesity in ChildrenВ» 11 th April 2010,
    Grundy SM. “Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease”. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism. 90. 6 (2004): 226“245
  • Guthrie J, Frazao E. 1999b. Quality of children’s diets at and away from home: 1994-96. Food Review 2-10.
  • Jackson, Yvonne. (1993) В«Height, weight, and body mass index of American Indian schoolchildrenВ», 1990-1991. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 93(10) 1136-1140.
  • Jahns L, Siega-Riz AM, Popkin BM. 2001. В«The increasing prevalence of snacking among US children from 1977 to 1996», Journal of Pediatrics 138(4): 493-498.
  • Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. В«Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977-1998» . Journal of the American Medical Association 289(4) (2003): 450-453.
  • Obesity and weight management, 2010, 11 th April 2010
    Torgan, C. (2002). Childhood obesity on the rise. The NIH Word on Health. 2002, April 10th 2010
  • Yajnik, CS. В«The lifecycle effects of nutrition and body size on adult adiposity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.В» Obesity Reviews 2002; 3: 217-224.

Stevenson Snow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × 2 =