Childhood obesity is very common in the United States. In fact, in 2002, 16% of children ages 6-19 were overweight (?Childhood Obesity?). ?In June of 2010, one state was made up of less than 10% obese children, 24 states 10% to less than 15%, 17 states 15% to less than 20%, and eight states 20% to less than 25%? (?F as in Fat?). There is a difference between overweight and obese. Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors, while obese is having excess body fat. Childhood obesity can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep problems, and cancer later in life. 11.3% of all people age 20 and younger have diabetes. Also, children who are obese are more likely to have bladder, pancreatic, mouth, and respiratory-tract cancers as adults. Some reasons that childhood obesity is becoming such an epidemic are that not enough healthy school lunches are being provided, eating too many high calorie snacks, watching television, eating due to stress or boredom, and genetic or hereditary factors.
Eating lunch from the school cafeteria rather than bringing it from home has a somewhat negative effect on children?s weight. Children who eat school lunches are more likely to be overweight or obese, eat two or more servings of fatty meats like fried chicken or hot dogs daily, and have two or more sugar-filled drinks a day. Also, they are less likely to eat at least two servings of fruits or vegetables a day. They would have higher levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (?School Lunches?). Children, most likely middle school age, have unlimited access to high-calorie, low-nutrition foods in vending machines and a la carte items in the cafeteria (?Many Reasons?). Recess and required courses in physical education have declined, decreasing the amount of activity and exercise students have in their school day (?Many Reasons?).
Eating too many high calorie snacks is a major problem in childhood obesity. High calorie snacks are easy to get, cheap to buy, and children would most likely prefer them over vegetables or fruits. Foods that would fall into this category are things such as chips, candy bars, and sugar-filled soft drinks. 56% of all eight year olds consume soft drinks daily and one-third of all teenage boys drink at least three cans a day. On average, adolescents get 11% of their calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar from soft drinks. Increased soft drink consumption has been associated with decreased intake of nutrient-dense beverages such as milk (?Many Reasons?). Cravings for sweet things can start in infancy, when mom introduces mashed up fruits before vegetables. If it were the other way around then the child still may want sweets, but might also like eating the more nutritious foods as well.
No parent would think that their child could become obese by watching television, but it can happen. Not just because of the fact that they are being lazy and not getting exercise, but because they are exposed to commercials such as McDonald?s that make them crave high-calorie snacks such as salty french fries and juicy hamburgers. Also, watching television for hours gradually becomes an addiction for children and it becomes a major recreation for them (?Causes of Childhood?). As a result, children want to incorporate the things they see shown on television into their own lives.
Everyone gets stressed and bored. It?s natural, but when children eat because of it there becomes a problem. If they get stressed or bored all the time, it becomes a habit to eat constantly. Whenever a child has little to no exercise it causes them to gain weight rapidly.
There are many genetic and hereditary disorders that are causing children to be obese; some are rare, while others are more common. Prader-Willi syndrome, Bardet-Biedl syndrome, MOMO syndrome, and Cushing?s syndrome are all included in this category.
Prader-Willi syndrome is a genetic disorder that is caused by defects on the paternally derived chromosome 15. It causes childhood onset obesity, and mild facial dysmorphism (?Prader-Willi Syndrome?). As the child grows older, laboratory tests may show signs of morbid obesity, such as: abnormal glucose tolerance, above normal level of the hormone insulin in the blood, failure to respond to luteinizing hormone releasing factor, high carbon dioxide levels, lack of oxygen supply. It affects about 1 out of every 15,000 births, males and females