In the last decade, childhood obesity in Australia has risen considerably and resulted to a disturbing epidemic in many regions. Therefore, the number of children who are obese has almost doubled since 2001. In accordance with information by the center for disease control, about 15% of children and adolescents are currently obese. Though obesity is a health condition, which can be easily identified; moreover, it is one of the most difficult conditions to treat. Childhood obesity if not controlled through healthier practices of eating and physical exercises can result in overweight in adulthood (Sallis & Glanz, 2006). In fact, about 30% of overweighed adults began from childhood obesity. Researches show that obesity accounts for over 300,000 deaths annually and has increased the cost to society to about $100 billion per year.
The term obesity is used to refer to too much fat in the body. However, this term should not be used to mean overweight. Though both terms imply that a person is weighing too much, the body weight depends on various aspects such as bones, muscles or even body water. Obesity results from eating too much calories than what the body needs. The excess calories in the human body are then converted into fat and stored in the body. Continuous accumulation of fat in the body with time results in obesity. Factors that can lead to obesity include personal genetic makeup, eating foods with a high content of fats, overeating, and lack of physical exercises (Sallis & Glanz, 2006). According to various researches, childhood obesity is very common in the developed countries. However, rare cases have been identified in developing countries.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
In Australia, many parents are blame to have influenced obesity in young people. Though parents might have influenced the increase in childhood obesity; currently, there is very little evidence to support parental influence on childhood obesity. However, researchers and scholars refer childhood obesity as a result of genetic and environmental factors (Lumeng, 2005). Childhood obesity is a result of excess cholesterol in the child’s body. Cholesterol is a substance in the child’s body that looks like a fat. Cholesterol in the body is mostly produced in the liver although some cholesterol may result from the food eaten by the children. The body of the child requires certain percentage of cholesterol for building and maintenance of cell membranes as well as production of certain hormones, which are very useful in insulation of nerves system. Cholesterol is very significant in production of bile juice, stored in gall bladder, which is important in digestion fats. However, excess cholesterol in the body is very dangerous to the child’s health. It is important to mention that cholesterol can lead to gallstones if it is too much in the body. In addition, too much cholesterol in the body results to formation of fat lining in the wall of the arteries vessel, which may result to atherosclerosis, a disorder that stops or slows the flow of blood in artery vessels. To make the matter worse, excessive cholesterol in the body in most cases results to frequent heart attacks and death may occur as a result.
There are several factors that can determine the level of cholesterol in the child’s body. Some foods that a child takes can increase the level of cholesterol and fat substance in the body. Foods such as eggs have high content of cholesterol; therefore, if consumed in large quantities will increase the level of cholesterol and hence, result to childhood obesity (Sallis & Glanz, 2006). Besides being a risk factor for the diseases of heart, the level of cholesterol in the child’s body results to childhood obesity. Childhood obesity implies an increase in the level of low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Body exercises are helpful in controlling childhood obesity in children since it helps to break down cholesterol substances in the child’s body. Furthermore, body exercise reduces the chances of suffering from heart diseases through lowering the level of low density lipoprotein and increasing the concentration of high density lipoprotein. Health specialists recommend for a minimum of half an hour of active physical exercises every day. The age of a person is another factor that affects the level of cholesterol in the body. The level of cholesterol increases as a person grows older. The gender of the child as well affects the concentration of cholesterol in the body and thus, female children are more prone to obesity compared to male children (Lumeng, 2005). In the recent decade, childhood obesity has become one of the most worrying trends in many nations. The number of obese children has considerably increased in the developed nations. For instance, the number of obese children between the ages of 6-11 years in the Australia has increased by 9% over the last decade. However, there are no signs of minimizing to say nothing of fully eliminating the progressive rise of obesity in children. Some researches, conducted in 2010 in the Australia, show that one of every three children is obese. This happens in spite of the awareness and campaigns through newsletters, print media, and audiovisual media.
Childhood obesity has been associated with various factors. Studies show that increased inactive lifestyles of children with most of their time spent on computer games and television have played a great part in childhood obesity. Children do not have enough time for physical exercise due to media programs and computer games. Lack of physical activities among children has resulted in continuous accumulation of fat in the children’s bodies, which eventually leads to childhood obesity (Sallis & Glanz, 2006). Children have got extreme indulgence in the consumption of fast food and sugary substances. These substances and food have got a high content of fat, which is directly absorbed in the body cells. Continuous consumption of these foods leads to the accumulation of fat in the child’s body, which eventually results in obesity. Due to workload, parents in most cases do not have enough time to prepare nutritious meals for their children (Lumeng, 2005). Therefore, children are fed on fast food, which does provide vital nutrition for children’s growth, but is rather rich in fat contents. The fat contents facilitate fat accumulation in the child, which leads to childhood obesity in the long term. Also, the rise of suburban and urban crimes forces children to remain indoors. This has limited children from undertaking field activities, which reduce fat content in the body, thus, increasing the chances of childhood obesity. Other factors such as insufficiency of fresh vegetables and fruit, which contain significant vitamins for children’s growth, have as well played a part in childhood obesity. Overeating among children leads to a high accumulation of fat which with time results in childhood obesity.
Effects of Childhood Obesity on Child’s Health
Childhood obesity itself is an unhealthy condition, which is associated with several disorders and diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and gall bladder diseases, cancer, and arthritis (Hayden & Macdonald, 2006). Obesity increases the risks of clotting of the arteries, a high level of cholesterol in the body, metabolic syndrome, asthma, mental health, as well as sleep disorders. These are as well the most common findings in adult obesity, which therefore implies that these risks start from childhood obesity. There two major risks associated with childhood obesity. The first risk involves the affliction of children with several diseases and disorders such as diabetes and heart diseases. This increases the chances of children’s suffering from chronic diseases for a longer period. For instance, diabetes results in diabetic retinopathy, which eventually leads to eye damage. There are high chances for children who suffer from diabetes for a long period to have impairment of their vision, unlike in adults. Moreover, the conditions of the diseases in most cases tend to remain invisible in obese children and only manifest after the conditions worsen. This considerably increases the risks of frequently suffering from obesity-related diseases and disorders, which shorten the child’s life span. In addition, childhood obesity increases the overall costs of the child’s health care due to prolonged illness periods and frequent infections. In addition, childhood obesity increases the risk of developing various cancers such as bowel cancer, endometrial and womb cancer, breast cancer, esophagus cancer, cancer of the thyroid, gall bladder, cervix, ovary, pancreas, kidney, and blood cancer such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma (Hayden & Macdonald, 2006). Adulthood obesity in parents also influences childhood obesity. Researches show that there is a 50% possibility of childhood obesity for a child born to obese parents.
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Mitigation and Prevention of Childhood Obesity
Historically, there is no commonly identified method for a medical practitioner to address childhood obesity. The decisions to curb issues regarding childhood obesity have been left to families and societies at large. Although obesity has been a complex socio-cultural condition, there is still no effective solution. Most health institutions advocate for the multifaceted approach to controlling the pervasive challenge of childhood obesity (Hayden & Macdonald, 2006). Many researchers suggest that appropriate nutrition can assist in the prevention of childhood obesity and ensure optimal health. Multifaceted approaches such as balanced diets, physical exercises, and nutritious food play a key part in solving the problem of childhood obesity. Children’s exposure to ever-present advertising in the media and various options of physical activity may not be an effective way of preventing childhood obesity. Therefore, federal sanctions and guidelines are very significant to protect from unhealthy advertisements and promote active leisure activities.
The prevention of childhood obesity is always better than treatment, because diseases associated with childhood obesity are in most cases difficult to detect during early stages. Therefore, proper measures should be put in place to control fat accumulation in children. The consumption of fast food by children should be minimized and replaced with other nutritious substances and food such as fresh vegetables and fruit. This will help to reduce fat accumulation in children, therefore, reducing the likelihood of childhood obesity.
The time that children spend on playing computer games and watching television programs should be reduced and instead replaced with physical exercises which help to break down fat deposits into energy. Parents should devote some time to preparing nutritious and balanced meals for children and avoid buying fast food for them (Sallis & Glanz, 2006). When it is necessary, parents can employ someone to take care of their children while they are away. Family’s lifestyle should incorporate a nutritious and balanced diet and several physical exercises to curb both childhood and adult obesity. The government has also to ensure people’s security and prevent suburban and urban crimes which deprive children of the opportunity to undertake field activities such as sports. This will help to reduce the rate of childhood obesity.
From this study, it can be concluded that childhood obesity is an unhealthy condition which is associated with various diseases and disorders. Obesity itself has got no severe effects on a child’s health, but it facilitates the development of other complications such as heart diseases, diabetes, disorders of the arteries, and cancer (Hayden & Macdonald, 2006). These resultant conditions are what make the life of obese children at risk. Obesity is, therefore, a condition rather than a disorder. However, this condition makes the victim prone to various kinds of diseases and disorders. To make matters worse, the resultant diseases and disorders caused by obesity tend to be invisible at early stages. The symptoms of these diseases and disorders are only noticed when the condition gets worse. This is very dangerous since it can cause the death of the victim. Though recently much has been done to curb childhood obesity, it is evident that the rate of childhood obesity has greatly increased in the last decade. This affirms the message from different institutions such as the Center for Disease Control which argued that obesity has no medical cure. They have suggested that childhood obesity can only be controlled through changing unhealthy family lifestyles to healthy practices such as sporting and sticking to a nutritious and balanced diet.
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Much has been done in working out effective ways of controlling the appetite of children in an attempt to curb childhood obesity. This elucidates the courses of several minor syndromes of obesity. However, there is still much to be done to reverse the rate of childhood obesity that has significantly increased in the last decade. Though no general clinical method has been established to control childhood obesity, many health institutions suggest a controlled intake of calories and physical exercises to prevent the increase in the rate of childhood obesity. Better lifestyles for families have proved to be very helpful in controlling childhood obesity through balanced and nutritious diets. Childhood obesity is a continual disorder that requires long-term clinical treatment and continuous control measures (Hayden & Macdonald, 2006). Lastly, childhood obesity has no medical treatment, but the condition can be addressed through the use of physical exercises and balanced diet.