Increasing Rate Of Obesity In Young People

822 words | 3 page(s)

Obesity has long been considered to be a health problem that parents and their children should take responsibility for; and make steps towards its treatment and prevention. The society shuns overweight children but is responsible for inducing them into consuming nutritionally poor foods. As parents fight for the health and social consequences of their children’s consumption of nutritionally poor foods, the presence of such foods in the media continues to grow and children get exposed to unhealthy foods. This is one of the whys and wherefores to the rise in the sum of obese kids in America carries on to grow despite the health concerns associated with it. There is a need to help kids to grow healthy eating habits; this can be done only through promotion of the consumption of better food preferences.

The methods that have been previously implemented in resolving the obesity problem have not been effective mainly because they have been focussed on treatment of individual children at a time. The current environment send children the wrong message which is “It is good to eat” but at the same time, tells them, “it is bad to be fat”. These two messages are mainly fuelled by the media and popular American Culture; which affect children’s choices and food preferences. Thousands of food products are introduced to the American market every year. The desire to consume new food products has always been strong with a rise in new products tripling (from 5500 in 1985) to 17000 in the year 1995. The society promotes healthy eating for pregnant mothers and their infant babies before and immediately they are born. Mother are advised not to consume any unhealthy foods which could harm their babies; and that they should only maximise nutrient acquisition for the benefit of their children’s health. They are given several guides on how they should eat and feed their infants and toddlers but these changes when the children start growing.

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The food advertisements available and aimed at children by the media are also a reason for the augmentation in the rates of obesity among children. The moment children hit age 2, the messages directed towards their attention and to their parents change for the worst. Instead of addressing the proper health benefits of the foods they should consume, the advertisements sell unhealthy foods to them. Of all the advertisements of food products directed to this age group, 95% of them are for fast foods. These include soft drinks, sugared serials and candy by the time these children hit pre-school age, they develop preferences for given foods. They become consumers of such foods by the preference they develop from the media advertisements.

Children are not the only ones misled by media advertisements. Parents too, are misled into believing that giving children sweet foods and candy makes their children’s lives much better and sweeter. As a result, parents are duped into offering their children special food treats in an attempt to please such children. The moment the children adopt preferences to such foods, it becomes difficult to them to try new foods aimed at having balanced diets; other than taking sweets. They are susceptible to consuming energy-dense foods. Such foods are most commonly rich in fat. This is yet another reason for the rise in obesity among children.

According to research, parents believe that they feed their children healthy foodstuffs but this is not the case. In the real sense, they give children food that they believe their children will like and accept to consume based on their previous preferences and eating habits. In order to solve this growing problem, there is need to educate parents on foods with better nutritional value. As part of a way to help reduce levels of obesity among children, parents also need to refuse their children from consuming sweet and fat rich foods. They need to teach them about healthy eating and not feel like they are not good parents when they deny them ‘special’ food treats.

The need for effective programs and interventions is long overdue, to reverse the current trends in the rise of obesity among children. According to experts, excessive weight gain needs to be detected early in children so that necessary steps are taken to prevent children from succumbing to the harmful effects obesity. It should be standard clinical practice to routinely assess children’s weight gain, relative to their linear growth. While parents are at the centre of all this, they have to be empowered with the right knowledge to tackle this problem.

  • Danner, F.W., 2008. A National Longitudinal Study of the Association Between Hours of TV Viewing and the Trajectory of BMI Growth Among US Children. University of Kentucky.
  • de Onis, M., Blossner, M. & Borghi, E., 2012. Global prevalence and trends of overweight and obesity among preschool children. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, pp.1257-64.
  • Schwartz, B.M. & Puhl, R., 2003. Childhood obesity: a societal problem to solve. Oesity Reviews, 4, pp.57–71.

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