Diabetes: Obesity in Children

Table of Contents

Introduction

Epstein, Coleman and Myers (2013) claim, “One out of every five children in the United States is obese, and this number continues to rise” (p. 429). Chances are high for an overweight child to remain the same until adulthood. Besides, such children are at the risk of contracting chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Epstein et al. (2013) argue that obesity in children is an intricate health dilemma. Its frequency has increased “considerably in recent years that many consider it an important health concern in the developed world” (Epstein et al., 2013, p. 431). Study shows that the frequency of obesity continues to go up in all pediatric age brackets. Numerous factors lead to children developing obesity at an early age. They include environmental factors, genetic conditions, lifestyle, metabolism, and feeding habits. Nevertheless, a majority of the obesity incidents are idiopathic. This paper will discuss obesity in children and the management strategies that may help to reduce cases of overweight among the kids.

Causes of Obesity

Epstein et al. (2013) allege that children become obese due to numerous factors. A majority of children become obese due to lack of physical exercise, genetics factors, and family practices. According to French, Story and Perry (2013), obesity comes as a result of interrelations between environmental and genetic factors. Polymorphisms in “different genes that control appetite and metabolism predispose individuals to obesity when sufficient calories are present” (French et al., 2013, p. 481). At least 200 genes aid in weight management by determining body type, activity level, metabolism, and food preferences. Thus, obesity is a characteristic of several atypical genetic conditions that frequently arise in childhood. Study shows that children are likely to inherit obesity from their parents. Over 80% of children who are born by obese parents suffer from obesity.

French et al. (2013) argue that changes in family practices lead to children suffering from obesity. Today, a majority of mothers do not breastfeed their children. Instead, they introduce them to diets that increase their cholesterol level at an early age. Furthermore, most children do not participate in physical exercises. The children spend a lot of time watching television or playing computer games. Hence, their bodies are unable to burn excess calories, therefore subjecting the children to the danger of becoming obese (French et al., 2013). Some social policies and practices also subject children to the risk of being obese. For instance, in some countries, children have access to fast-food restaurants and vending machines. Besides, the governments offer subsidies for products like sugar and corn oil. Such policies make it easy for children to afford unhealthy food that expose them to the dangers of developing obesity.

Management Strategies

The increase in the number of obese children is as a result of the emergence of technology and lack of physical exercise (Lobstein, Baur, & Uauy, 2012). If children engage in physical activities and avoid living a sedentary life, the prevalence of obesity can go down. One of the management strategies that can lower case of obesity in children is availing bikes to school-going children. Failure to provide parks and sidewalks in our neighborhoods and schools prevent children from engaging in outdoor activities. Therefore, there is need to establish recreational facilities both at schools and residential areas for children to engage in physical exercise. Government policies are major impediments to the fight against obesity (Lobstein et al., 2012). Most states do not regulate the advertising of candy and junk food. Moreover, the states do not give subsidies for healthy foods. Consequently, the children go for unhealthy food because they are cheap. Providing subsidies for healthy food can go a long way towards lowering cases of obesity among children.

Recommendations

The government has to lead in the fight against obesity. It can do this by offering subsidies for healthy food. On the other hand, the parents have to encourage their children to participate in physical activities. Parents should not allow their children to spend a whole day watching television or playing computer games. Instead, they should encourage them to go out and play. For instance, parents may take a walk with children or ride bicycles together. Health officers should educate parents on the importance of breastfeeding the infants. Besides, they should educate them on the appropriate food for children. The government should prohibit the advertising of unhealthy food on children’s television channels.

Obesity in Children

Childhood obesity refers to a situation where children encounter health problems due to excess body fat. Currently, there are no accurate or approved methods of measuring body fat. Instead, the medical professionals use body mass index to diagnose obesity. Today, cases of obesity in children are on the rise. Indeed, medical professionals consider obesity as a major public health concern. Doctors recommend the use of the term overweight because it appears less humiliating. Statistics indicates that there are over 42 million children who suffer from obesity worldwide. Doctors cite metabolism, genetic conditions, environment and poor feeding methods as some of the factors that expose children to the danger of becoming obese.

Factors that Contribute to Obesity in Children

Numerous factors lead to obesity in children. Some of the factors include unwholesome eating habits, the absence of physical exercises and genetic conditions. Health practitioners claim that in exceptional cases, obesity in children may result from medical conditions. Children that hail from families of obese parents are likely to suffer from the same problem. However, this may result from shared family practices like activity and feeding habits. Parents also contribute to increasing in the frequency of obesity in children. Some mothers decline to breastfeed their infants. Instead, they introduce them to foods at an early age. Moreover, some parents encourage their children to eat junk food, therefore exposing them to the danger of being overweight. Advertising of junk foods on children’s television channels and accessibility of fast-food restaurants are other factors that cause obesity in children. Government policies and social practices cause obesity in children. Failure to provide subsidies for healthy food forces people to go for unhealthy rations. Moreover, the absence of recreational facilities in both public and residential areas prompts children to live a sedentary life. The emergence of technology has led to many children spending a lot of time playing computer games. They do not get time to engage in healthy activities.

Available Data

Research indicates that over 42 million children are obese. In the United States, the rate of obesity in children has gone up by almost 17%. Today, at least 10% of the children in the world are obese or overweight. In Canada, the rate of obesity among the boy child stands at 30%. According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), many children suffer from obesity at the age of nine months. In Australia, obesity in children is prevalent among the poor communities.

Possible Interventions

One of the ways that community health workers can help to reduce cases of obesity in children is training parents in the proper diet to feed the children. The community health workers should emphasize the importance of breastfeeding infants. Besides, they should instruct the mothers on how and when to introduce their children to other diets. Lack of physical activities leads to children developing obesity. Therefore, community health workers may come up with a program that encourages children to engage in physical exercise. The health workers can come up with a community-wide intervention that meets the needs of individual communities. The response can address behavioral patterns that expose children to the risk of contracting obesity. For instance, they can help the communities to establish short-term objectives and programs aimed at changing the feeding habits and lifestyles that subject the societies to the dangers of becoming obese.

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