The problem of obesity is becoming more urgent and alarming every year. Excessive body weight leads to related health complications, such as chronic diseases, and the number of cases is constantly growing. Obesity is the leading death cause globally highly prevalent in adults and children. Finding a solution to the problem of obesity will help people. The current paper analyzes obesity in American children and offers solutions using the Dewey Sequence that considers the problem, its history, causes, effects, solution, and possible objections. An unhealthy diet and insufficient physical activity are the leading causes of the issue among children. The complexity of the consequences of obesity and its prevalence suggests the need to develop measures to prevent and treat it involving science, society, and the family. Despite the rapid spread of obesity and its consequences among children, parental education interventions can effectively address this problem.
Understanding the problem is an essential step in finding a solution for it. Obesity is a disease in which a person accumulates excessive amounts of adipose tissue for various reasons. Nevertheless, determining obesity in children is more challenging than in adults; measurements are compared not with standards but with reference populations (Tyson & Frank, 2018). Usually, experts apply body mass index (BMI) calculations using weight and height and diagrams regarding the sex and age of the child. Despite the available knowledge, obese and overweight children are sometimes difficult to distinguish.
Challenges in determining obesity in children are caused by the shortcomings of the calculation method used and the disadvantage in applying alternative ones. The drawback of BMI is that it is not a direct measure for determining excessive weight and may exaggerate its value. Moreover, different organizations have different perceptions of which measures indicate the problem. Alternative methods like dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) fat assessment or other measurements may be more accurate but complex to apply (Tyson & Frank, 2018). Thus, counting BMI is a crucial method in determining the problem of obesity in children, and for accurate assessment of the child’s condition, it is worth contacting specialists.
The attitude to human weight and the understanding of its consequences differed at various periods of history. For example, ancient archaeological finds such as the Venus of Willendorf suggest that excessive weight symbolized fertility and beauty (Greydanus et al., 2018). However, later, people noted that obesity is harmful to health; for example, Hippocrates made such observations (Greydanus et al., 2018). Opinions changed and differed over time – some people considered overweight evidence of wealth and some noticed harm.
In America, the issue of excess weight and obesity became more urgent in the 20th century. At this time, the first recommendations for the desired healthy weight were developed. Moreover, in the last century, product standards changed, giving preference to more energy-dense food containing much salt, sugar, and fat (Greydanus et al., 2018). Such products are cheaper and have improved taste and smell, but they have caused the spread of obesity. At this time, marketers also began to act more intensively in advertising harmful food. These factors have contributed to obesity’s spread among children in recent decades. Over the past thirty years, the prevalence of obesity among children has doubled (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). As a result, the problem has reached epidemic levels – about 18% of school-age children are obese (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Insufficient efforts to solve the problem can aggravate the situation and increase the number of children, in the future, adults suffering from obesity and related problems.
Problem’s Causes and Effects
Several factors, in combination or individually, contribute to the onset of obesity in the child. The most common causes are excessive food consumption and low energy expenditure (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). In particular, obese children usually consume 1000 calories more than is necessary for the body’s functioning (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Other factors include genetics, hormonal changes, mental health, and environmental factors. An additional aspect of influencing American children is the development of modern technologies. Video games, television, and the Internet promote sedentary lifestyles and reduce the activities required to burn calories. These causes contribute to a faster rate of obesity in children.
It is worth noting that significant changes have occurred in eating culture. In particular, technologies change the methods and speed of food preparation and the transportation, accessibility, and quality of products (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). As a result, America’s population can consume more food faster than before. Moreover, an important aspect is the quality of products, since high-calorie and cheaper products receive more advertising and attract customers. In comparison, the price of dishes offered in fast food restaurants is reduced, and healthy foods like vegetables and fruits are increased (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). These factors are very influential in the onset of the childhood obesity epidemic.
Obesity in childhood and a lack of effort to solve the problem can cause severe problems in the future. There are risks that about 25% of children who are obese under five years of age, and 50% who are obese between 6 and 9 years of age, will suffer from the same problem in adulthood (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). This issue affects children’s lives and can worsen mental and physical health. Obesity contributes to such problems as sleep apnea, hypertension, other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, digestive tract diseases, poor self-esteem, and depression (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Excess weight and fat are also risk factors for developing various types of cancer (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). The severity of the consequences of obesity and its prevalence in the population poses risks to the public.
The onset of obesity in childhood and its duration makes treatment difficult in adulthood and lead to more negative consequences. Therefore, it is essential to focus on solving the problem. A key measure to address obesity is its prevention through parental education. Parents have a significant impact on children’s diets, establishing healthy eating habits and performing exercises. Parents simultaneously set an example through their behavior and determine their children’s nutrition. Therefore, they need to know the possible consequences of obesity and how to prevent it. Training can include various aspects – portion sizes, food quality, exercise modes, and situations in which they should consult a doctor for help (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Informing parents and calling for responsibility in caring for their children’s health can significantly reduce childhood obesity.
Considering the problem of advertising harmful food and its availability in fast-food restaurants, parental influence remains a better preventive factor than other interventions. For example, Austin et al.’s (2020) study showed that communication with parents had the most excellent effect among measures aimed at teaching families media literacy to improve food choices among children. Teaching healthy dietary choices can reduce junk food intake among children and thereby contribute to the prevention of obesity. At the same time, modern technologies can be used to benefit interventions. In particular, telemedicine and its use to solve the problem of childhood obesity demonstrate its effectiveness in various studies (Bala et al., 2019). This aspect simplifies intervention and maintains its efficacy even in the limited conditions of the world pandemic.
A potential objection to intervention may be doubts about its effectiveness. Many educational materials on obesity, its consequences, causes, and prevention are already available, primarily through the Internet, but more children are exposed to this condition. However, answering this objection, it is worth considering the fact that junk food and its advertising are becoming increasingly obsessive, and the training materials are often not easy to understand. Sanyaolu et al. (2019) note that misunderstanding preventive measures due to the complexity of nutritional training materials are common among parents. Research has shown that the better the training is prepared, the greater its benefits (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). As a result, an essential part of the intervention is the correct preparation of materials for parents’ education and their accessibility.
Thus, although obesity is a complex and rapidly spreading problem among children, it is possible to solve it with the involvement of parents. Historically, the issue has become more urgent in the last three decades, when the number of obese children has increased significantly. Various factors and their combination can cause the problem – excessive food consumption, food quality, low physical activity, genetics, and other causes. The effects of this condition on mental and physical health are severe and, in many cases, remain in adulthood. As a result, prevention is essential, and parents have the most significant influence in the case of children. The solution should teach parents how to nurture healthy eating habits in their children. Many training materials are already available, but their complexity is an obstacle that is worth considerable attention in preparing interventions.
Austin, E. W., Austin, B., Kaiser, C. K., Edwards, Z., Parker, L., & Power, T. G. (2020). A media literacy-based nutrition program fosters parent-child food marketing discussions and improves the home food environment and youth consumption of fruits and vegetables. Childhood Obesity, 16(S1), S-33. Web.
Bala, N., Price, S. N., Horan, C. M., Gerber, M. W., & Taveras, E. M. (2019). Use of telehealth to enhance care in a family-centered childhood obesity intervention. Clinical Pediatrics, 58(7), 789–797. Web.
Greydanus, D. E., Agana, M., Kamboj, M. K., Shebrain, S., Soares, N., Eke, R., & Patel, D. R. (2018). Pediatric obesity: Current concepts. Disease-a-Month, 64(4), 98-156. Web.
Sanyaolu, A., Okorie, C., Qi, X., Locke, J., & Rehman, S. (2019). Childhood and adolescent obesity in the United States: A public health concern. Global Pediatric Health, 6, 2333794X19891305. Web.
Tyson, N., & Frank, M. (2018). Childhood and adolescent obesity definitions as related to BMI, evaluation and management options. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 48, 158-164. Web.