Arantxa Dominguez Obesity in childhood

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    Arantxa Domnguez Acevedo

    Assignment 1

    CHLD 2 Child Development & Growth: Prenatal to Early Childhood

    Professor: Bharti Dave Date: 04/30/2016

  • 1. Introduction.

    Authorities and researchers have talked of the Obesity in children as an

    epidemic. A paper from 2007 assured that by 2010 it is expected that the number of

    overweight children will increase significantly worldwide, with almost 50% of children in

    North America and 38% of children in the European Union becoming overweight [9].

    That is a big number, and the most dangerous consequences are the medical and

    psychological issues associated with obesity. I will talk about consequences further in

    the article.

    The Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to

    the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. People are generally considered

    obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a

    person's weight by the square of the person's height, is over 30 kg/m2, with the

    range 2530 kg/m2 defined as overweight [a]. As we can see in the following picture

    the obesity is a worldwide concern because of its increasing rates.

    Figure 1: Obesity rates increasing worldwide. Source [4].

  • Childhood is a target time in the development of children for the instauration of

    healthy values, nutrition knowledge and activity and sports routines. Having a son

    makes me realized how important is nutrition and physical activity in the development of

    my baby, so I am very interested on doing well and provide my son opportunities to

    healthy develop and learn how to do good and healthy meal choices.

    2. Research

    Obesity is a multifactorial problem that involves several agents that are in touch

    with the childrens life. Some of these agents can indeed be responsible of the increase

    of the obesity rates on children. We can approach to the problem from the parents,

    school, peers and media point of view.

    2.1 Family approach.

    From the Parents point of view, there are several socio-demographic factors that

    can predict the chance of obesity in children. Poverty and obesity go by hand. Fresh

    food is pricey and sometimes, not easily available in the neighbor grocery store. Low-

    income homes correlate with insufficiency healthy choices. Sometimes not choosing

    healthy choices is a matter of money but sometimes there is a lack of knowledge on

    how to eat healthy.

    Another factor why parents buy fast food is because they dont have time to go

    grocery. It is easier to go to a fast food restaurant chain with a drive trough and get

  • some dollar menu for dinner [v1]. Furthermore, processed food is cheaper than natural

    and fresh food. Processed food is also ready to eat so parents do not need to spend

    time cooking or thinking what to eat.

    2.2. School approach.

    They are offering healthy choices at school cafeteria but they are still offering

    high carbohydrates offers as well. Furthermore, the salads and fresh choices are less

    appealings and appetizing than other choices (pizza, sandwiches, potatoes) [v2].

    Researchers call the food provided aside the meal, competitive foods [11]. These foods

    are the snacks and sodas that are sold outside the meal school program and those are

    high in low-nutrition levels and energy dense. The competitive foods have a deep

    impact in the nutrition of the children. When some schools have applied restricted

    policies for competitive foods, they have found that children choose schools meals 30%

    more [11].

    It is also a matter of money, because there are no law restrictions for this food,

    and some schools are afraid to loose revenue if they do not sell competitive foods.

    2.3. Peer approach.

    Childhood is a special time in life where relationship with peers is a crucial

    process. When children are between 5-11 years old, they experience their first

    friendships and significant relationships with peers [10]. Peers are an influence source

    of beliefs, habits and knowledge and can transfer certain obesity tendencies

  • 2.4. Media and food industry approach.

    Doctor Mark Hyman has reveled a secret meeting among several CEOs of

    important companies in the food industry. In that meeting Doctors and the CEOs tried

    to reach consensus in cutting sugar, fat and salt in their products. The meeting was a

    failure and the companies argued that they had already healthy choices in the market.

    Dr. Hyman assures the problem is not having healthy choices, the problem is the

    amount of sugar, salt and fat in their products, are that high dose are driving people

    addicted and overweight. As we can see in the picture below, since 20 years ago, the

    size of serving in restaurants, ready meals and even at home, have experienced an

    increase. Nowadays, restaurant meals are likely to feed 2-3 people.

    Figure 2. Portion distortion Source:

    Some studies have shown that the time children spend watching TV and with

    other devices is linked with their body weight. It is also linked with time of exercise: at

    much time watching TV, less time practicing exercise [v2]. The Academy of Pediatrics

  • also have warned that todays children watch too much TV, practice too less exercise,

    watch too many junk food advertisements and dont get enough sleep.

    3. Impact

    Obesity is a multifactorial disease that can lead to devastating consequences

    both for children and adults. The consequences do not only affect the health of the

    children but also their psychological health and social relationships. The following figure

    shows the medical consequences of being obese. One that surprised me is the

    incidence of Type 2 Diabetes, some studies have shown that more and more cases are

    found in childhood and adolescence [4].

    Figure 3: Complications of childhood obesity. Source [4]

    Psychologically, children are affected. Obese children feel rejected and

    sometimes bullied. In the crucial period of the childhood, the negative feelings can lead

  • children to depression, low self-steem and eating disorders such a bulimia and binge

    eating [b].

    Furthermore, the relationships with peers are affected and obese children find

    more difficult to be connected with other children. Some studies suggest that bias,

    negative beliefs and stereotypes have been found in children regarding to other obese

    children. Children tend to think obese peers are more likely to be lazy, stupid, ugly,

    selfish, getting teased and having few friends [9].

    4. Solution

    Even if there are lots of things to do; it is also true that there are several public

    and private programs that seek the decrease of obesity in children by education and

    physical activity. One example of that is the program that the First Lady Michelle Obama

    created in 2010, Lets Move!. The program looks for the healthy growth of future


    From the point of view of parents, we should be healthy models for our children.

    Children of parents who eat healthy and exercise are more likely to follow this life style

    on the future [v1]. There are also other tools and activities that we can use for healthy

    eating and life style.

    One of the basic knowledge is the Food Pyramid for healthy eating. The pyramid

    represents the healthy intake of food groups.

  • Figure 4: Pyramid and portion food - Source:

    The concept of portion of food is an easy way to know hoy much food should we

    eat. For a balanced diet, the normal amount of food should be the size of our palm. The

    portion of a toddler would be smaller than a child because of the difference on their

    height and weight [v1]. Another interesting tool to check our intake of food is by creating

    a Meal Journal to be aware of what we are eating. Following there is a list of further tips

    for the healthy eating and life, from the different agents that are involved in the

    childrens life.

  • Figure 5: Tips for prevention and treatment of obesity in childhood. Source [4].

    As we can see in the list, the conclusion is that the agents should provide

    opportunities for children to have a healthy food choices and practice sports or other

    physical activities.

  • 5. Conclusion

    After reviewing the literature and seeing the documentaries, I can conclude the

    Obesity in children is an epidemic issue that exists worldwide. The good news are that

    parents, schools and all agents involving childrens life, can influence and reverse the

    increase of the epidemic. My conclusion is that children need to have opportunities and

    choices for being healthy and stay active. Parents should be the models but also Media

    and Schools that influence the most- should be in the same page.

    Because childhood is a decisive stage of life, parents and schools should provide

    good foundations for building habits and relationships. Children are more likely to

    internalize new concepts and routines by playing fun activities so we should go this way,

    creating fun learning situations.

  • 6. References.

    [1] Alaimo, K., Briefel, R. R., Frongillo Jr, E. A., & Olson, C. M.