A Growing Epidemic: Child Obesity

by Shawna Sheppard

Childhood obesity is rising at an alarming rate. Today, children can simply play games on the most recent high-tech game system or computer, or watch T.V., without any necessary physical activity. Children have become lazy because of the technology offered to them, and as well as unhealthy food (which they seem to gobble up in a matter of seconds). Children presented with unhealthy foods, habits, and less playtime in today’s typical American home is a major factor in child obesity. According to “Effects of Fast-Food Consumption on Energy Intake and Diet Quality Among Children in a National Household Survey,"Pediatrics, January 2004”, “fast food consumption has increased fivefold among children since 1970.”[1] The combination of these factors in today’s children has created a very serious, and possibly fatal, road to child obesity.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, children that are obese have a 70% likelihood that they will grow to become obese in their adulthood as well. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of obese or overweight children “has tripled since 1980”.1 Child obesity not only has medical side affects (such as Type 2 juvenile diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, etc...), but also psychological and emotional affects as well. An obese child often deals with name-calling, low self-esteem, and depression; some may also obsess about food in order to suppress unhappy feelings and/or depression (comfort food). Children that are overweight tend to also feel unworthy and are filled with self-doubt.

Some of the answers to fix these issues can include more outside physical activities, playtime, and less time playing video games. Children should be raised on healthier diets and eat vegetables and fruits more often than sweets. Also, vending machines loaded full of sweet and salty snacks, candy, or pop needs to be eliminated from our school systems as well. I believe that playtime and family activities between families is very important to the child's development and bonding with the family. Immediate attention needs to be brought to the issue of child obesity. Let’s make today the day to start the end of child obesity.

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