The childhood obesity statistics reveal the stunning fact that almost 60% of children in America are obese. The rate of overweight children in America is increasing rapidly. In fact, it has tripled in the last 30 years. In the year 1980, only 7 % of children between the age of 6 and 11 years were obese in the United States. By 2008, the same percentage shot to 20%. Obesity in adolescents between the age of 12 and 19 years rose from 5% to 18% during the same time.
Childhood obesity studies also reveal the fact that 40% of obese children and 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults. Indeed, by the time an obese child turns six years old, his/her chance of becoming an obese adult is over 50%.
What are the role of genes in childhood obesity in America?
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Applied Genomics (CAG) have confirmed the part played by genes in childhood obesity in America.
They found that people who have duplications or deletions of certain DNA sequences are at a very high risk of developing this physical disorder. The results of the study were published in the Oct.14, 2010 online issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Cotswold Foundation and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Knowledge gained from the research on the Nexus between Genes and Childhood Obesity in America are as follows:
- The variation in the genes is technically called the scanning of CNVs.
- Obese children, between 2 -18 years, belonging to two ethnic groups, European and African Americans respectively were considered for this large-scale study.
- The study was first carried out on 1,080 obese European American children and the results were compared with 2,500 lean children.
- Genetic variations were found in the obese children but not in lean children.
- The procedure was conducted on 1,479 African American children later along with 1,575 lean children to study to tally the results.
- 17 genetic variations were found in obese European and American children and eight of which were also present in the obese African American children.
Significance of the Research on the Nexus Between Genes and Childhood Obesity in America:
- Obesity is known to be caused by environmental factors like sedentary lifestyle and consumption of high calorie foods. But the role of genes in causing this disorder could not be ruled out.
- However, the research on this subject was confined only to the adults. The present study established the role of genes in childhood obesity and is significant in the context that nearly 70 percent of obese teenagers remain obese even on reaching adulthood.
Childhood obesity is not an individual responsibility
Many claim that obesity is an individual responsibility. And, they also think that children can easily cure themselves by following good eating habits and through regular exercise. But what they do not realize are some important facts. Many schools in America are filling children’s stomachs with high calorie snacks which have minimum nutritive value. And, in fact, many schools don’t have proper recess and exercise policies. Then, how can obese children be blamed in any way?
Parents should bear the blame
Don’t blame the children for their obesity problem. In fact, they are not allowed to make their own choices about their lives. It’s the parents and schools that need to be blamed for the obesity epidemic among children.
Moreover, parents in the United States are increasingly becoming involved in their careers to the extent that there is no time left for taking care of their children. The consequences are apparent in the form of physical, psychological and emotional disorders. But, how much is parental neglect a cause of childhood obesity in America? Are there any rules or guidelines to follow both for the parents and for the health care professionals?
Do you know the fact that in US, 32% of 2-7 year olds and 65% of 8-18 year olds have television in their bedrooms? Then, who is the reason for the excessive TV viewing habits among children in America? Is it not their parents?
Is Childhood Obesity in America a Child Protection Issue Now?
- A recent study was carried out on this topic by researchers at the UCL Institute of Child Health in London, the study being published in the November 2010 online issue of British Medical Journal.
- The researchers wanted to learn about the existing evidences on the subject and come out with a set of guidelines to put in practice.
- Obesity in young children and adults was found to be linked with violence, sexual abuse and negligence.
- No studies were found to exist which examined the association of obese children in these acts and protective actions for them.
- There was no information on the long term effects of child protection strategies aiming for weight control and inhibiting physical and psychological disorders like diabetes and depression in obese children.
- However, the researchers believe that failing to change the lifestyle and not being in constant touch with health care professionals tantamount to negligence on part of the parents for which they can be blamed.
- The severity of these irresponsible behaviors is even higher when the child is found at the verge of developing obesity related co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea.
- Obesity is included as one of the factors associated with child’s welfare. But, family and environmental factors should be assessed while looking for parental negligence in severe instances of childhood obesity.
- The study concluded that health experts have an obligation to look for factors associated with child neglect or abuse in all the areas of their health. Further research should be focused on framing precise guidelines for addressing the link between parental negligence and childhood obesity in America.
Realize the childhood obesity aftereffects
Research studies show that most of the eating and physical activity habits are established in childhood only. And, the psychologists say that most of one’s habits and traits for lifelong are established by the age of 12. Excess body fat that is accumulated in a child persist throughout childhood and also into adulthood.
Obese children are physically less active compared to a normal child. In one study, it was found that an obese child walks slower with asymmetric steps and turned toes and is flat footed. These poor walking habits and physical inactivity results in structural deformities and body tissue damage. When even walking itself is a big challenge for an obese child you can imagine about other physical activities.
Childhood obesity prevention possible
We can easily prevent the childhood obesity only by following two obesity prevention tips – eat the right food and do regular exercise. Inculcate these two obesity prevention habits into your overweight child’s routine. You can expect the best results very soon. Also, don’t forget to consult a child psychologist to save your child from the behavior problems that come with the obesity problem.
In the year 2009, the United States government declared Obesity as a national epidemic. In most of the states, the statistics of obese people is rising at an unprecedented rate. Lack of awareness about the risks of Obesity is also one of the culprits. Research studies are presenting growing number of evidences on the nexus between Obesity, Heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Depression in young children.
It is shocking to know that diseases which earlier affected people in their 30s and 40s are now affecting young children. For instance, the minimum age of diagnosis of depression in the United States is as low as 14 years. Obese teenage children are at high risks of depression for some obvious reasons. Teenagers are conscious of their looks and excess weight hurts their self esteem. Fatigue and negative attitude makes these children easily tired physically and mentally. This further makes them feel low as they bear the burden of tremendous peer pressure. Parents should be aware of these trends and remain vigilant while parenting their teenage obese children especially.
Tips to Lower Childhood Obesity in America
Here are some of the tips to lower childhood obesity:
Exercise: Being a parent, you need to be extremely alert and aware whether your child is following a strict exercise regimen for a fit and toned body. Some of the exercises are:
- Make your kid play any kind of sport that he is interested in.
- Bike riding is another excellent form of exercise that works on the whole body and helps in the burning of calories.
- Walking is another great form of exercise, which should be done very often.
- Park your car at a distance and make your child walk till the store.
- Do not allow your kid to use elevators, instead let them take the stairs.
Eating healthy is another important path to reduce obesity among children. As parents, you need to make healthier options and give your children a healthy diet. Some of them are:
- Encourage your child to eat healthier as this is the most important factor, which should be enforced consistently.
- Select healthier treats to ensure that they are getting proper nutrition.
- You need to make sure that your child eats a well balanced small meal at least 5 times a day.
- You must include fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet instead of packed fruit juices.
- You should also buy the right snacks and avoid the intake of cookies and candies, which are high in sugar levels.
- Keep your child away from all the junk foods like burgers, pizzas and carbonated beverages.
- Make them eat more of green leafy vegetables as it offers valuable nutrients.
Latest Statistics of Childhood Obesity in America :
- Obese children have 70 percent chances of remaining obese even through their adulthood.
- The rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.
- The prevalence of obesity among children belonging to the age group of 6-11 years has raised from 7 percent in 1980 to 20 percent, in the year 2008.
- In adolescents belonging to the age group 12-19 years, the prevalence has raised from 5.0 percent to 18.1 percent.
- 70 percent obese youth belonging to the age group of 5-17 years has at least one risk factor of heart disease.
- Heart diseases, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Sleep apnea, Bone and Joint Problems, Mental disorders like Depression and poor self esteem are some of the risk factors associated with childhood obesity.
- The United States government has declared Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes as a national epidemic.
- Being overweight and obese also predisposes one to develop cancers or malignancy.
Latest Research on Childhood obesity in America
A new research study at the Wayne State University in Detroit has revealed a shocking fact on childhood obesity in America. According to the researchers, infants as young as nine months old are obese. The results of their study is published in the January – February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. The rest of the article tries to gain further insight on this latest research on obesity in childhood.
How Serious is Childhood Obesity in America?
- Children obesity statistics were obtained from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort which involved early weight analysis of 16,400 children born in the United States in 2001.
- While 8,900 of these babies were nine months old, 7,500 of them were of age two.
- 31.9 percent babies in the former group and 34.3 percent infants in the latter group were either obese or at the risk of it.
- In comparison to white children, babies from lower-income families and those of Hispanic origin were at higher risk of becoming obese.
- Pacific islander and Asian American children were at lower risk of becoming obese.
- Gender-wise, male babies were at higher risk of becoming obese in comparison to female infants.
- According to the experts, if children are in obese at such an early age, the risk of remaining in this category in the future also is quite high.
- Reviewing the conclusions of this study, childhood obesity experts from the University of Michigan also confirmed that there is an increasing trend of obesity in younger children in this country.
Unfortunately, there is no approved childhood nutrition diet for obesity as of now. Owing to this constraint, an effective way to address the child obesity in America would be that parents remain in constant touch with health care professionals and learn new ways of feeding their babies healthy diets.