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Obesity is a condition that is medically diagnosed to prove excess and unhealthy body weight. This condition has adverse health effects, resulting to a reduced social life capabilities, psychological health, and sometimes death. Doctors and professionals use the Body Mass Index to measure obesity. There are higher possibilities of obese children to grow into obese adults than it is for normal weight children. In addition to the psychological problems caused by obesity, obese children may also suffer from cancer, high blood pressure, liver diseases, heart diseases, sleep disorder, and diabetes. Those who are predisposed to be obese may prevent the likelihood by observing their lifestyles and avoid putting themselves in risky position.
Obesity in children may be caused by:
- Dietary factors
- Home environment
- Psychological factors
- Lifestyle factors
- Development factors
- Medical illness
The dietary habits of children have an impact on their health as observed by (Kiess, 2004). In the present society, children frequently consume calorie parked foodstuff, snacks and drinks, with low nutritional value. Children rarely eat at home due to the availability of fast food restaurants everywhere. School settings are jammed with snack vending machines and fast foods, which appeal to children and encourage unhealthy eating habits. The popularity if the Internet and the mass media advertisements also make it easier for the fast foods to advertise and attract children into buying these foods as opposed to eating health food at home. Children are also becoming physically inactive at an alarming rates and this increases the risks of getting obese. In traditional societies, children used to engage in physical activities, outdoor games, sports, and house chores.
Presently, children engage in less physical activity due to the popularity of computers, televisions and the internet. Television viewing, stationary computer and video games and other non –healthy habits such as over sleeping increase the chances of children becoming obese. Despite the sedentary lifestyle and dietary factors, genetics also have major contribution to obesity in children. In this regard, scientists prove that genetics control the appetite and metabolism of an individual, which in turn control the body weight. Genetical syndromes that may predispose children to obesity include MOMO syndrome, Bardet-Biedl Syndrome and Leptin re captor mutation. The Home environment influences the child’s choices of food and lifestyle. During family meals, parents can help their children choose healthier eating habits and foods. By incorporating healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits, parents ensure that their children eat healthy and are able to choose healthy food in the absence of their parents (Flamenbaum, 2006).
Body growth and development factors also influence the development of obesity. Breastfeeding and infant feeding influence a child’s body growth and development. Mother’s are encouraged to breastfeed their children to avoid cases of poor nutrition which may lead to adverse health defects such as obesity. Psychological factors such as low self-esteem and depression feelings also contribute to obesity in children, especially adolescents. These factors affect the eating habits of children, their lifestyles, and their abilities to choose the right foods to eat. Other medical conditions also contribute to obesity in children, especially Hypothyroidism and the Cushing’s syndrome.
With the increasing statistics of obesity in children, we are left to wonder who is to blame for this health risk. Once children start attending school, they spend most of their time in school than at home. Despite this, parents should be more responsible for their children’s eating habits and lifestyles. Parents have the ability to discipline their children and influence their lifestyle and diets at an early age, which will in turn influence the decisions they make about food. The school institution is also responsible for children’s obesity. Teachers should help parents teach their children proper eating habits and healthy lifestyles. By engaging children n extra curriculum activities, teachers ensure that children remain healthy while at school, and may engage in the same activities once they go back home. Teaching children to eat minimal snacks and more healthy food and drinks should be a task for both parents and teachers. However, parents have more control of their children’s lifestyles in terms of the amount of time they spend watching televisions or playing computer and video games. Technology is mandatory for the development of the society. However, if not controlled, it may become harmful in many ways. It is the responsibility of both teachers and parents to control how children use technology (Flamenbaum, 2006).
In conclusion, we cannot solely blame the parents or teachers for the increasing cases of children obesity. Though parents carry more weight in the blame, teachers should help parents in teaching children to eat well, exercise frequently, and engage in outdoor games. With the changing lifestyles, obesity is becoming a health crisis that parents and guardians should take care of. Obesity is caused by several factors like genetics, psychological factors, sedentary lifestyle, dietary factors, and medical illness. To avoid obesity in children, parents and teachers should involve them in physical activities and instill discipline in food choices. Obese children mat grow into obese adults if not helped. There is high probability of parents suffering from obesity to have obese children. Helping an obese child cope with the problem requires commitments from the child and the parents. Counseling is needed in adverse situations, especially when the obesity affects the self-esteem of the sufferers.
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