Child Obesity: In the World and in America

December 17, 2008
By Jessica Maienza, Wilmington, MA

Currently, more than a billion adults worldwide are overweight, and at least 300 million of them are clinically obese. Evidently, America has drastically gained weight in the past few decades. Lacking healthy lifestyles, Americans continue to gain weight, simultaneously instilling their habits into the minds of their children. Obviously this makes the problem continue into the next generation. The habits of Americans need to change drastically: daily food intake must be lowered, the food which is eaten must be healthier, and more exercise needs to be incorporated into their lives. Until then, this epidemic will continue in generations to come.
Childhood obesity is already epidemic in some areas and on the rise in others. Worldwide, an estimated 17.6 million children under five are said to be overweight. About a third of American children are overweight and one-fifth are obese. Of course, this is mainly due to the poor eating and exercising habits that the parents teach their children. Many parents think that "baby fat" will melt away as kids get older. But research increasingly shows that fat kids become fat adults, with higher risks for many health problems. Some develop higher risks not as adults, but as children. In one study, obese children as young as 10 years old had the arteries of 45-year-olds and other heart abnormalities that greatly raised their risk of heart disease. Sadly, child obesity is a rampant problem and is still escalating throughout the world. This problem must be confronted by everyone: the doctors, the politicians, and the owners of unhealthy food corporations. Most of all parents, who are solely responsible for their children’s welfare, need to become cognizant of this predicament.

Many parents don't know what to feed their kids. They know that the diet of their household and of their community is unhealthy, but what they don’t know is how to fix it. Stumped because they want to make changes, they just don't know how to get their kids to like healthy foods. Becoming educated by reading books or researching healthy foods online could initiate a change in the diets of Americans and of the next generation. After researching, parents could promote healthy food choices and an active lifestyle in order to lower the obesity rate in America.

While parents should begin to solve this problem, businesses, schools, and other institutions should play a large role in reducing obesity too. Businesses could sponsor programs to promote a healthy diet and exercise. Food corporations should focus more on providing heart healthy snacks low or even completely lacking in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. Companies could work to replace mesmerizing video games with interactive games to promote active rather than sedentary lifestyles. Schools should work to provide nutritional meals of proper proportions for their students. If everyone worked to eradicate obesity from our culture, America would be a happier place to live.
Parents should find the answers as well as strive for the ability to explain what a healthy diet is to their children. It is even more important to start implementing that diet in such a way that they will learn to love it and eat it. Consequently, children will adopt a healthy approach to nutrition that will last a lifetime and exceed into the generations to come.

The author's comments:
My father's side of the family had terrible diets and exercise habits growing up; they all passed it on to their children. One of my dad's sisters is 350 pounds at about five feet tall. She moves only when she has to; however, she can only mobilize in a wheelchair now. Her weight has destroyed her knees and many other parts of her body. Her children had to grow up watching her suffer. In turn, they now suffer together. Out of my three cousins, all have been at one point clinically obese. The two youngest have, for the most part, thinned out. The oldest, however, is just above 400 pounds and will most likely continue to gain weight. It saddens me to see my family suffer because of their bad habits and their weights. My mom became a vegetarian to avoid the terrors of obesity before I was born. My three younger brothers and I are all vegetarians and eat very healthy. I pray for my cousins every day, but I know that they will all meet an early death. So, I wrote this piece in hope to get the word out to others before it is too late for them.
Thank you,
Jessica

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