Child obesity has quickly become a major problem in America, the degree to which may not even be fully realized at this point. To consider all the aspects of obesity, a systems approach is necessary in identifying all factors involved. From this perspective, a more encompassing view of the prevalence of child obesity can be observed.
Statistics show that the prevalence of child obesity has dramatically increased in America with a rate that is triple of that 30 years ago. This very disturbing trend needs serious and immediate attention. Recent information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that 17 percent of children between the ages of two and nineteen are severely overweight. Actual numbers are expected to be much higher as regularly conducted surveys indicate people tend to provide incorrect information concerning their weight and height. The Harvard School of Public Health also indicates that the prevalence of child obesity in the U.S. has been grossly underestimated and is of proportions that are rapidly spinning out of control.
Child obesity can be attributed to several factors. A child’s eating habits, physical activity level, hormones, genetics
and environmental considerations are all involved in the picture of child obesity. Obesity involves both physical and emotional problems. While medical risks for diabetes among others are well known, these children typically suffer from low self-esteem and social isolation from peers, which has equally devastating effects on child development.
The prevalence of diabetes in society is no longer considered just an eating problem, but now a lifestyle concern involving not just the child, but also the whole family. Parents of overweight children are often not aware of the risks of obesity and unwittingly contribute to an environment and attitudes that foster obesity. Some child health advocates go to the lengths of considering the allowance of child obesity as serious child abuse as parents are largely responsible for children’s diets.
Children that are overweight need to be involved in more and regular physical activities while being less involved in sedentary functions such as watching television. Parents should take an active role in providing healthy eating choices and limiting or eliminating unhealthy snacking foods from the home. Enrolling children in after school clubs and activities, sporting teams and summer camp activities is one way to increase their activity level. This will also help them in gaining self-confidence and in socializing with other children. Just as diet has to be controlled by the parents at home, a child’s physical activity level needs to be actively monitored by parents as well.
Children rely on their parents for their well-being, and obesity puts a child’s well-being at risk. Taking steps to prevent obesity as well as to rehabilitate an obese child is important. Not addressing a child’s obesity can put them at serious risk.