Fighting childhood and adolescent obesity
Obesity is an epidemic in America. There has been a drastic rise in the number of overweight kids in the last few decades. We will be exploring this issue in our next few articles. We will be providing information to help those parents, who are concerned about the health of their children, understand the importance of practicing a healthier lifestyle. Please note that the term “childhood obesity” may refer to both children and adolescents. In general, the American Obesity Association uses the word, “children” to refer to 6-11 years of age, and “adolescents” to 12-17 years of age.
Dr. Linda Mintle, in Preventing Childhood Obesity (2005) indicates that the child struggling with weight issues has to face an unsympathetic world, one that is steeped in glamorizing thinness at all costs. Thin is in and the pressure to conform in today’s culture is enormous. When one’s body doesn’t measure up, the reminders are everywhere. Social rejection is not an easy pill to swallow-the stigma is great.
Obesity in children and adolescents is a serious issue with many health and social consequences that often continue into adulthood. Understanding the factors that contribute to causing child and adolescent obesity will help to control the obesity epidemic. The following are the many contributing factors that cause obesity in children and adolescents outlined by the American Obesity Association. Some are changeable and others are not.
Modifiable causes include:
• Physical Activity – Lack of regular exercise.
• Sedentary behavior – High frequency of television viewing, computer usage, and similar behavior that takes up time that can be used for physical activity.
• Eating Habits – Frequent and over-consumption of foods that are high in calories and fat.
• Environment – Some factors are over-exposure to advertising of foods that promote high-calorie foods and lack of recreational facilities.
Non-changeable causes include:
• Genetics – Greater risk of obesity has been found in children of obese and overweight parents.
Not all obese infants become obese children, and not all obese children become obese adults. However, the prevalence of obesity increases with age among both males and females (Lohman, 1987), and there is a greater likelihood that obesity beginning even in early childhood will persist through the life span (Epstein, Wing, Koeske, & Valoski, 1987).
Next Month: Part II
The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her at P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.