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Childhood Obesity Disease of the 21st Century

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  • Pages: 11
  • Word count: 2559
  • Category: Life

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In just the United States alone, one third of the children are overweight and since 1980 the U.S. has seen a fifty-percent increase in child obesity. Also in the United States, over 112,000 men, women, and children die each year because of being overweight or obese. Australia has documented cases where over twenty-five percent of their children are obese and say that it has become the “single biggest threat to public health”. Even the Stanford Health Care did a quick study recently finding that, “breastfed babies are fifteen to twenty-five percent less likely to become overweight. For those who are breastfed for six months or longer, the likelihood is twenty to forty percent less”. In a 2009 study researchers found that there are over ten different microbes can cause adipose tissue growth. It was also found that obesity, not just in children, but in adults has been linked with infection and chronic diseases. What is the reasoning behind this or is there only one big reason for this outbreak of obesity? Should the fast food industries be blamed for all of this? First off, what are the effects of obesity on the children?

Now that children are becoming overweight, they are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes which is more prevalent in adults who are overweight, however, if children have a BMI  over 25.0-29.9 they are considered overweight or if they have a BMI of 30.0 or higher they are considered obese. Being overweight can increase the child’s chances of being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes by twenty times. Along with being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, children have the risk of having gallbladder and coronary heart disease, sleep apnea, hypertension as well as dyslipidemia. Hypertension is when blood is pushed against the arteries walls creating high blood pressure. Dyslipidemia is when there is too much fat in the blood stream creating high cholesterol. In a 2007 study there were, over three hundred thousand adults and children were involved. The verdict said that, “being overweight boost the risk of heart disease by thirty-two percent” and being obese increases “the risk by eighty-one percent. Having a child overweight also means they could have respiratory issues due to having extra weight on their diaphragm. Having the extra weight is why they could be suffering from sleep apnea because if there is too much pressure on the lungs the child could stop breathing or snore while they sleep.

These effects of excess weight can keep the child awake or not receive enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is also linked to sleep apnea and this can cause a change in metabolic hormones. This means many things, if a child is awoken because they cannot sleep they are going to want to eat because they are bored, not because they are hungery. Eating more food than is required for the body to function is put into storage as fat. Not having enough sleep has also been connected to diabetes and heart diseases. There are over fifty health risks for a child who is overweight or obese. In another study, people, “when asked to identify health risks are associated with obesity, the majority  mentioned diabetes, and a good number mentioned heart disease and hypertension,” however, “less than mentioned respiratory problems, cholesterol, or mental issues”. These facts should be publicized to make everyone aware of the problems that come with obesity in the children and themselves. If most of the case studies were not aware of the what the potential hazardous problems that come with being obese, imagine how many more do not.

“Two RAND researchers, health economist Roland Sturm and psychiatrist Kenneth Wells, examined the comparative effects of obesity, smoking, heavy drinking and poverty on chronic health conditions and health care expenditures. Their research indicates that obesity is the most serious health problem” (Radford, Jones, Winterstein). Of course, most children would not be heavy smoking or drinking, none of the less, the fact that obesity is the most serious health problem supports that finding a solution to fix this epidemic in children and even in adults is essential. Though the question throughout the United States is obesity in children really such a big issue or is it just a small part of a bigger issue that has not yet come to pass?

Parents tend to have a major role in their children’s lives and what choices they make, including what they eat on a regular basis, but could parents be leading their children to an early grave because their lack of teaching of nutrimental eating habits and a proper amount of exercise? Instead of the children outliving their parents, people are seeing children die early in life because of being overweight. Many of these children who are overweight suffer from self-esteem issues, risks of having eating disorders, and depression; all of these factors reduce the quality of life. Children are becoming obese because they are not being as active. It is up to the parents to make sure their children are receiving the proper exercise and eat the proper amount and kind of food. These children are eating more food than they expend making the rest of the food they take in put into storage in the body as fat and which then increases their body weight.

Children’s parents act as models, their eating habits, exercise, and activities all contribute to what the child is going to do or eat. If a parent is overweight their children tend to be overweight. A child sees their mother or father go out to eat on a regular basis and get inappropriate proportion sizes, the child will follow in their footsteps and make the same decision as they get older. Overeating plays a role in proportion size because the children learn to eat more food that is high in fat and sugar or. Genetics have also been found to alter hormones that can affect a child when he or she is obese. “Leptin is a hormone produced in fat cells and also in the placenta”. Leptin is what controls a person’s weight, without this hormone or not enough of it the brain cannot be signaled to stop eating more food than the body requires, hence a child will continue to gain weight if they continue to eat the way they do. Even “environmental factors during development can induce permanent alterations in epigenetic gene regulation, and epicene deregulation can contribute to obesity.

It is therefore plausible that environmental influences on epigenetic gene regulation contribute to the secular increase in obesity. Carbohydrates also affect a child’s weight, although they are not one hundred percent sure why they affect their weight, they however, do know that carbs” increase blood glucose levels, which in turn stimulate insulin release by the pancreas, and insulin promotes the growth of fat tissue and can cause weight gain “. Simple carbs such as sugars, are absorbed more rapidly into the blood which is why there is more insulin released creating problems with the pancreas. This is what made the link with weight gain and consumption of carbohydrates. Along with parents, eating habits, and not enough exercise in children, food marketing also contributes with the epidemic.

The NIH published a manuscript about the Ten Putative Contributors of the Obesity Epidemic, the authors of the manuscript layer claim to the fact that one of the top reasons of this epidemic lies in food marketing practices and just the food market in general. When foods are commercially advertised, it is usually the big fast food industries such as, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, Subway, and Arby’s doing the televising. They promote “buy one get one free” or “supersize me,” most of the time these “deals” that people are getting are not really a deal in the long run, especially if the kids are eating from these fast food places. However, eating a cheeseburger from McDonalds once in a while is not going to hurt a child, but if that’s what that families’ meals consists of everyday, that child is at the risk of becoming overweight or obese in the near future. When shopping in a food market most of the everyday people are not going to think of what their food was made of or where it comes from, but maybe that’s the problem, we’re too caught in everything to care what people as human are putting in our mouths. If a child’s parent/s do not look at the packaging their children will not do so because again the parents are the model in what the child should do. For example, in chickens who were “ infected with SMAM-1, an avian adenovirus, or three human adenoviruses, adenovirus-36, Ad-5 and Ad-37 developed increased adiposity .

If these chickens were sent into the markets for human consumption, children of all ages and adults could be infected and will gain weight. What is in an obese person’s stomach or other parts of the body? In the guts, there is bacteria that helps break up certain substances, however, if an infection causes it to alter, which is very prevalent in obese children and adults, then that good bacteria mutates and its function turns completely different. “Gut microflora has been reported to enhance adiposity” which could be found in the gut as well as microbiota. Microbiota when in the gut increases the absorption of monosaccharides which also can create fat when a child does not have enough exercise or does not expend the calories they have eaten so far making those monosaccharides that were consumed stored into fat.

It is said that our population, not just in the US or Europe, but all over developed countries has seen a change in childbearing patterns. However, in just the US alone since the 1960’s there has been a decrease in the rate of births. In the 1960’s the rate was at 3.8 births per woman, a decade later the percent decreased again to 1.8 births per woman. Because the world is becoming so advanced women are going to school, into the workforce, postponing relationships so they can make a mark on the world. Even when married a couple tends to wait to have children due to financial issues or they wait until they have established their careers.

Waiting longer however, can create problems, as a woman gets older so does her eggs, as it is known. Women only have a set amount of eggs when they are born with, by the time a woman is ready to have kids she has lost many and has a little over 300,000 left over by their twenties. If a woman waits even longer estrogen tends to break down the eggs making them not as viable, making it harder to conceive. Even if a couple does have children, but later in life their chances in having who is obese child increases. The reasoning’s are social structure and age. “The impact of this change in the social structure and its effect on the traditional family in terms of attention given to children, the type of diet provided, and the amount of physical activity encouraged, among other things, has been proffered as a potential contributor to the increasing rates of childhood and adolescent obesity.

In a large controlled case study perform by Wilkinson and colleagues they correlated maternal age at the time of childbirth with both the triceps and subscapular skinfold thickness in the offspring. The results, children that were overweight were born to mothers who were 3.5 years older than those women who were born with normal weight children. In another study over eight thousand, five to eleven-year-old children were tested to correlated body fat percentage to maternal age. The results for this case were children who were born to a woman who was at the most twenty-five had 2.6 to 2.8 less in their BMI compare to the children born of a woman who was at least the age of thirty.

Children are told they can eat whatever they want as child because they are kid and their metabolism to take care of it, but what if that’s the problem? Parents are basically telling their children get fat now so when you start to grow it will all go away, however, that is not the way it should be. Instead of blaming milk companies for selling whole milk because apparently a child who drinks whole milk is going to become over weight is just insane. The people as a whole need to start making obesity as whole a problem that needs to be solved. Children are dying at such younger ages because they were not taught the appropriate portion-sizes or what should be even consumed for that matter. Everyone wants to blame a certain party for this child obesity epidemic, whether it is food companies, parents, and their genetics, the children themselves. If everyone was not as blinded by their own reasoning then maybe as a whole, our society could bring down the rates of obesity whether it is in adolescents, younger children, teenagers, and adults. Promoting physical activity is schools more, making a meal plan for each week that consists of the essential nutrition and proportion size, going organic instead of eating the antibiotic filled chicken. There are some many factors that can increase the amount of fat on a body, but there many ways to help prevent or decrease the number of overweight children we see into today’s society.

Even though obesity in children is not the Black Death, it has become a serious public health crisis. Many people argue that it is our fault as a society that we have become overweight and lazy, and that is why it has become such an issue. However, there are hundreds of reasons why a child can become overweight whether it is how their parents teach them what is right and what is wrong to eat, what they see on the TV, their genetics, or even a small mutation in their gut bacteria. If all the child is eating is empty carbs then their palate becomes accustomed to these foods and they will never want to touch a vegetable or fruit. These choices will carry throughout their lifetime and will eventually catch up to them. As people move down the chain our eating habits get past down generation to generation. That is why we see children who are becoming obese at the younger ages tend to stay obese as adults because they do not know how to switch what they have done their entire lives.

In many cases by the time they realize they need to fix something the damage has already been done and their life is at stake because all those years of putting foods in the body that were processed, created lifelong damage everywhere in the body. From enlarged liver, fatty kidneys, thinning muscle in the heart, and to adipose tissue distributed everywhere these are just the few side effects of the obesity epidemic. There is way to help prevent child obesity from escalating. Encouraging children to get up and get active, provide alternative snacks that are healthy like, carrot and celery sticks, apples, almonds, bananas, grapes, and make sure that the proportion size is reasonable. Switching the channel when an advertisement for McDonalds come on is just one of the simpler ways to keep a child from making an unhealthy choice. Child obesity can be avoided, if only one works to eradicate it.

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