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Obesity Concerns among Young Children and Teenagers

Updated on November 12, 2014

In accordance to the center for disease control and prevention, childhood obesity has tremendously increased in U.S. in recent times. For instance, the rate of children affected between the ages of 6-12 years in U.S increased from 7% to 18% in 2010. Apparently, the number of children within the age of 12-19 and who were obese increased from 6% to 19% in 2012. More than one third of young children and teenagers in U.S were noted to be obese in the same period.

Overweight is explained as having excessive body weight for a particular fat height from fat, muscle, bone, water or an amalgamation of these matters. In essence, obesity is the situation of the body having excess fats. Overweight and obesity are caused by “ imbalance of calories” where minimal calories are expended for the consumed amount, and are influenced by the specific behavioral, genetic, or environmental matters. There are both long and short term effects that are posted by childhood obesity among these children. The immediate health impact in this case is the likelihood of the obese to facing risk factors for other equally dangerous conditions such as the cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a study carried out by the center for disease control in 2012, 70% of obese children around age 5-17 were having at least one element of a cardiovascular condition (CDC, 2013).

There is also a likelihood of obese teenagers of having a pre-diabetes condition, which is a situation whereby the blood glucose level portrays a high risk for diabetes development. Both children and teenagers that are obese have a higher risk of developing such conditions as bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, social and psychological problems, stigmatization and poor self esteem. In addition, there is a likelihood of children and teenagers that are obese to carrying this condition into their adulthood phases. The obesity condition in adulthood is more risky as such adults are more vulnerable for such conditions as stroke, diabetes, various cancer types and osteoarthritis. Studies have pointed out that children who develop obesity at an earlier age are likely to continue this trend into adulthood. Both obesity and overweight are related to the increased risk for different types of cancer such as cancer of the kidney, pancreas, colon, endometrial, gall bladder, ovary, cervix, prostate, as well as other multiple problems such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma (Kushi et al 2006)

There are various elements which lead to obesity and overweight among young children. Among these factors include: ethnicity, race, dietary habits, and parental knowledge and environmental factors. A study of such issues will subsequently results into a discussion regarding the intervention mechanisms for curbing or preventing or curbing childhood obesity. There are many studies and literature which points out the many interventions and options that could be carried out in the prevention of the childhood obesity. It is acknowledge that there is no single cause for the rise in obesity incidences in U.S. Moreover, there is also no particular certainty regarding the cause of the health discrepancy in relation to obesity and overweight in specific populations.

Many Scholars have noted the divergent cultural aspects and perceptions with regard to obesity epidemic. Crawford et al. (2004) for instance, realized that, cultural perceptions were a major contributor to childhood obesity. In his study on Latina mothers, he noted that their beliefs and perceptions regarding the weight factors in most case were not in line with those of the health practitioners. The researcher also established that mothers from Latina origin did not at all recognize overweight and obesity and this made them to hold the perception that weight and health are weakly if not at all related. Further, he found out that Latina women preferred thinness over fatness for themselves but fatness or plumber for their children. In their study regarding the perception of Hispanic children, Vargas and Myers (2000) noted that 35% of Hispanic parents did not belief that their children were overweight. Additionally, ethnic minority seemed to low weight and higher attrition in comparison to non -minorities in the studies relating to behavioral weight loss.

The marketing strategies could also influence the variations in the rates of childhood obesity. In comparison to beverage and food marketing to various ethnic and racial populations, Kumanyika and (Griel 2008) established that citizens of African Americans type were more vulnerable to more targeted marketing of lowly nutritious as well as energy dense foods in comparison to Whites population . Following this revelation, the researchers became concerned that the use of various strategies of marketing with divergent ethnic and racial categories was a contributing factor in the health discrepancies that could be found among the obese and overweight children.

Advocacy Programs

Lets Move Program by Michele Obama

In Lets move program by Michele Obama, the current first lady in USA, she decided to utilize her post so as to assist in establishing and supporting programs that have a potential make the a step in the right focus specifically for curbing the epidemic of childhood obesity. Apart from the first lady, this program has also big corporations, pop stars, health care professionals and the countries public and private schools. The lets move program is basically focused on encouraging intake of healthier diet among young children, both in the school and home environment, effective food labeling and enhanced physical activity among these children. In addition, the program attempts to get the whole community to spearhead the intake of health foods and physical activity for fun including such aspects as being active within the family, community and the school. The amalgamation of physical activities and healthy lifestyle is according to the task force on childhood obesity pointed as one of the effective strategies for dealing with the obesity epidemic

Among the steps in let’s move program includes daily motion whereby the program advocates not less than 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. This is aimed at making the children feel less stressed, feel better, get better night sleep, and become more attentive in class. Another step is taking fruits and vegetables. This is because these foods are very crucial for health living and these children will have more fun by taking such. They are also encouraged to drink plenty of water; the program discourages parents or other caregivers to stock the house with sodas or chemical juice. Discouraging kids from too much watching of TV is also part of the program goals (Spark, 2013).

The Weight of the Nation

The weight of the nation is a combination of health practitioners, researchers, policy makers and stakeholders who are concerned about curbing or prevention of obesity epidemic. Weight of the nation brings together top experts in the health field with up-to-date strategies that have proved to alter the trends of this problem of obesity. The group tries to make the populace aware on this problem of this epidemic and prepares documentaries films in partnership with such organizations as the center for disease control and prevention, Institute of Medicine and the National Institute of Health (CDC, 2013)

Health Advocacy Campaign

For my Advocacy Program I would choose Michele Obama’s Lets Move Program so as to prevent the problem of obesity Pademic in USA. Since young children and teenagers spend much time in school than any other place, the school setting plays a crucial role in the general health of these children. The health of children is an important element to their ability to go to school when they are adequately prepared and have capable of learning. This could therefore be linked to academic performance in the school. There should be devised policies which support health eating and regular physical activity among these children. Such policies may be geared towards encouraging health behavior among these children, supporting health, and social activities for individuals to change their behaviors.

My advocacy choice is concerned with Personal Responsibility. Personal responsibility is one of the perspectives in U.S that is concerned with childhood obesity. This aspect holds that consumption of food is a personal issue and that parents, caregivers as well as teenagers are in a better position to make their own sound choices (Ludwig et al, 2001). This assumption would be helpful in informing policy actions that are focused on enhanced access to health foods, recreational and physical activity.

Since Childhood obesity in US perspective is on the rise, the state ought to consider adopting a competing policy framework. This is because in an environment that is obesogenic, young children develop a particular food preference because of accessibility, marking influence and price. In the environment perspective of childhood obesity, leaders should be mandated to restrict the advertisement of unhealthy and fat foods, controlling school foods and conditions of sale, banning or controlling harmful ingredients for instance transfats, subsiding or removing taxes on health foods such as vegetables and fruits. Policy makers should design measures of controlling the accessibility of foods rich in fats or other unhealthy products

There is mounting evidence which suggests that the built environment setting, that is where people thrive, live; work or play influences the level of physical activity. Recreational programs, parks, bike trails as well as sidewalks constitute the components of the built environment which could facilitate the active living and exercises. Our environment is the major determinant of our health. According to the convergent partnership, the environment and health are two elements which are inextricable. Individuals are health when the environment they live in supports good health. With no health environment, there is a likelihood of people suffering from obesity or other related conditions such as asthma, heart diseases, diabetes and so on. So as to prevent such issues, we need to establish health environments that support health choices. This therefore, necessitates the evaluation with regard to how we grow our food, how we process, distribute and sell and also the physical environment that surrounds us. This may be in terms of how the surroundings are constructed and the infrastructure that serves them (Convergent Partnership, 2010).

My Lobbying Method

Any successive lobbying mechanism is based on a three legged aspect of community, capital and grassroots. Specific technology and policy trends have however, been combined in recent perspectives to exert more weight on this stool. As lobbyist in this matter, my objective is to make the public and the community aware with regard to the causes of obesity and how it could be avoided. Such an informed public will be in a better position of responding to changes meant to curbing obesity and supporting the policies for health living.

My lobbying efforts will be focused on encouraging organizations and other interest groups which I will first establish a relationship with, to donate money so that we buy health foods such as fruits and vegetables to schools. This will assist in creating a culture for these kids in taking such type of foods. I could also design suggestive measures of obesity prevention and present them to the area MPs of course with the community backing who will in turn present such to the congress.

I would also employ various media such as Television, local newspapers and radio to make these people aware on obesity issues.

Ethical Considerations

Among the ethical considerations anticipated from such policy concerns would be the relation of a person’s autonomy and the state authority. The libertarian assumption confines the state authority in ensuring personal freedom while the social contract and utilitarian perspective permits an individual’s interest to be secondary to the increases in the general welfare. Stuart Mill provided a model that could be very useful in dealing with this ethical concern. This theory which relates to harm principle argues that the intervention of the state is only justifiable when the action of an individual affect another (Mill, 1859).

An example of the ethical dilemma that would accrue from this perspective is when the government tries to protect these children from harm measuring and exposing their body mass index, how will it address the issues relating to policy and stigmatization?. Other issues may relate to the responsibility of the parents and community members in offering their children, a health environment and whether the obesity problem could be regarded as a child protection factor that require social action. The state ought to ensure that their actions do not affect particular communities unreasonably. There is also the problem of addressing the stigma that is usually related with the term obese. Although there are people arguing that marketing doesn’t have much influence, studies have revealed that it has a substantial impact. Television and media marketing in general presents the greatest barriers to the campaign on obesity preventions. As much as we are trying to tell the populace in the danger of unhealthy foods, markets on the other side are aggressively continuing with their marketing campaigns to lure people into buying their products.

Conclusion

There is a wealth of information from previous studies with regard to obesity in childhood as well as the factors contributing to that obesity, treatment and prevention opportunities. Nurses ought to be readily equipped with leadership, policy, behavioral change intervention skills such as advocacy, social marketing skills, collaborative leadership and social marketing skills so as to be in a better position of dealing with this pandemic.

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    • Nyamweya profile image
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      Silas Nyamweya 2 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      thanks, for more details, I can be reached at silasnyamweya@gmail.com

    • J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

      Jane Ramona Rynkiewicz Frieman 2 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

      I agree that this is a major concern.