Obesity is a growing problem in our world and is one of the most rapidly growing diseases in children, teens and adults. Obesity has many definitions and many ways in which it can be interpreted. There are also many signs and symptoms of obesity which give doctors and parents time to prevent the fatal disease. Many things cause obesity in children, teens and adults and the effects can be deadly. People need to start noticing signs and take action for, not only themselves, but for their children as well, for a happier, healthier, and more normal life.
Obesity is a growing concern in our world and in some cases can be predicted in infants. There are patterns amongst infants that show signs of obesity. Infants that grow faster than others have a greater risk of becoming obese than infants that do not grow as
fast. Fast growing children, whether it be in height or weight gain, are more likely to be overweight later on in life. There is no set evidence that infants who grow faster become obese but faster growing infants do eat more food. Growth is driven by a childs appetite and dietary intake is a main risk factor in obesity. Studies have shown that the older the obese child is, the more likely that child is to become obese as an adult. Studies have proven that 25-80 percent of obese children become obese as adults (Lissau, 2007).
Obesity is a very harmful disease that can be prevented, but will require a lot of work from the whole family. Childhood obesity is defined as having a body mass index equal to or more than the eighty fifth percentile of the age and gender (Whitaker, Wright, Pepe, Seidel, Heights 2008). Obesity is an imbalance between energy expenditure and dietary energy intake. Many people in society often have mistaken obesity and being overweight as the same thing. Being overweight means that the body mass index is over twenty five, and being obese means the body mass index is over 30. The only similarity between being overweight and obese is the fact that both can harm a person’s health. Weight gain occurs when you take in more calories than your body uses during a certain time period. If the food you eat provides more calories than your body needs, then the calories that are left over transfer into fat. There are three stages to childhood obesity: late fetal development with overweight at birth, during the rebound period at five and six years old, and during the adolescence. (Whitaker, Wright, Pepe, Seidel, Heights). It is important to catch obesity early in these stages or it may become more difficult.
There are many reasons as to why kids around the world are obese. Diet, physical activity, and familial psychosocial environment are three risk factors for childhood obesity. A cause for obesity can be early infant weight gain. This is a risk factor for childhood and adult obesity (Cole 2007). Smoking while pregnant reduces the birth weight of an infant but it increases post natal weight gain which is a cause of obesity. (Cole 2007). When a child gains a lot of weight early on, it is a sign that they will become obese rather than gaining weight at a steady pace.
In an issue of Acta Paediatrica, it shows that watching television, having obese parents, and having a high birth weight increases the chance for obesity (Elanson-Albertsson & Zetterstrom, 2005). In most cases it is not the child’s fault that they are overweight but the parents of that child. The parents are the strongest factor for childhood obesity and both parents are equally effective. The lifestyle a parent gives their kid is a major factor as to how one will grow up. If a parent does not enforce exercise and physical activity they are more likely to become obese.
Eating habits are a large factor in whether or not a child becomes obese. If the parent does not control the foods they eat and how much they eat the risk of obesity rises. Some parents buy a lot of junk food for the house and when children are hungry they will be more likely to choose junk food rather than a healthy snack. It is twenty-five to thirty percent more likely that children with obese parents will become obese themselves. When children grow up in an environment with bad eating habits they are thirty-three percent more likely to become obese as young teenagers (Cole 2007).
Eating habits do not just come from parents, but can be caused by emotions as well. As a teenager there are many different situations that can occur in life, these may be new experiences or changes that a teenager can experience. Their changes and experiences can really cause a change in emotions, especially when a teenager is going through puberty. Some teenagers overeat because they are depressed, angry, or even because they are bored. Adolescents who suffer from depression are at a greater risk of becoming obese, and staying obese. Women usually tend to be more emotional and as teenagers they are going through many new experiences that can cause these emotions. A study shows that women at ages six to twelve are three times more obese now than they were thirty years ago.
Two main factors to consider when decreasing the chances for obesity are dieting and activity. These help balance each others energy and help people live a healthier lifestyle. A way to protect children from obesity is to breast feed them. A formula fed baby has a higher risk of being obese. “Two alternatives to explain recent obesity trends are programming of appetite has changed, and appetite in some children is up regulated. And Programming of appetite is unchanged, but hungry children now get overweight due to the obesogenic environment.” (Cole, 2006 pg 3).
The San Jose study focused on decreasing the amount of time spent in front of the television, and they increased the amount of physical activity in children and saw a decrease in obesity and the chances for obesity in the children. When the children watched less television the intake of sugar and carbonated beverages decreased. The children ate more fruits and vegetables throughout the day, when they spent time watching T.V. The children that were studied also had a change in their attitudes. The children seemed happier and more willing to do physical activities in there everyday lives. They also had an increase in there social lives and found they were more will to make new friends and it was easier to expand the groups of friends they had. (Lissau, 2007).
Mossberg conducted a study in 1989 involving a number of obese children. After forty years Mossberg did a follow up with those children and found that a large number were still obese. Mossberg also found that these adults had a normal food intake and this shows that methods for reducing obesity and being overweight should be started at a young age. It is much harder to reduce obesity in adults than to start when one sees the first signs of obesity in children.
Another main cause of obesity is environmental factors. In the world today the environment really has a huge impact on people’s lives especially when it comes to teenagers. In the modern world, technology has really come a long ways; so children and teenagers are relying more on technology to keep them entertained. This can be harmful to their health. Teenagers today are spending a lot more time interacting with technology than they should. These sedentary behaviors include video games, television, movies, and internet. Children who watch television and videos have been found to have a higher body mass index. By watching television and playing video games, the energy balance in a person decreases the energy expenditure, reduces resting metabolic rate, and increases energy intake. Also, many people eat while watching TV and are not doing any physical activity to work off what they eat. This allows the food to sit and turn to fat, increasing the chances of obesity. There are many commercials on television that advertise fast food and restaurants making it more likely for a person to go buy these foods rather than cook a healthy meal (Nowicka 2007). Television viewing has been linked to obesity, smoking, poor fitness and raised cholesterol in adulthood. Reducing television viewing and increasing physical activity may not be enough to reduce the chances of obesity. Gender, age, ethnicity and body mass index are variables in how much they are related to sedentary behavior.
Most children and teenagers also tend to eat out at fast food restaurants more often than they should. In result of this, they have less control over how much fat, sugar, and salts are in the foods they are eating. Fast food restaurants are also staying open even later than before. With these restaurants staying open late it really accommodates the food cravings that teenagers may have no matter what time of the day it may be. These fast food restaurants also encourage super-sizing your meals for a better deal, which adds more unnecessary calories and it proves to be cheaper. Children experience money now as an important part of life so if it appears that super sizing a meal will save some money they are going to feel that it is a better deal even though in the end it is really harmful to their health. Fast food restaurants are very common choices for families because they are so busy that do not have time to sit down and eat a home cooked meal so they stop and get something quick. With this busy schedule it creates a change in the eating habits that the children had before they got their license or got more involved.
Hilde Bruch was one of the first people to say that obesity was not just related to body mass index and weight. It affects many psychological aspects of a person such as
psychiatric health, psychiatric disorders, social maladjustment, and conflicts and tension in relations to the family of that person (Elanson-Albertsson & Zetterstrom, 2005). The psychological complications of obesity are most related to teenagers. Research has shown just how important it is to teenagers to maintain a physical appearance, athletic skills, and be accepted with what one wears (Lissau, 2007). People who are obese are proven to have friends who are also obese. It is also proven that obese people do not make as much money as people who are “skinny” or not obese. They have a lower self esteem and have a harder time developing relationships with other people (Lissau).
Young teenage girls in our society today are obsessed with their body image. This obsession can come from many different sources. Teenage girls may feel pressure from peers about their physical appearance because each person has different features that make them who they are. Often time’s people feel jealous because there is always someone in school that they wish they could look like. Girls become very competitive when it comes to the way that they present themselves and it can be a challenge if they feel someone has a better body. Not only is there pressure from peers that cause an obsession in body appearance, but the celebrities they see on television, or in movies have an impact as well. These women shown in the media are portrayed as what everyone should look like.
In the United States, the amount of obese teenage women almost doubles that of obese men. Studies have shown that more than one-third of women are obese. Girls spend more time talking on the phone and listening to music while boys spend more time watching television and playing video games. Boys are also involved in more physical activity at all ages. Decreasing sedentary behavior in children can be just as effective as increasing the physical activity in a person (Nowicka, 2007).
The school environment is a key place to start with obesity prevention. The schooling systems, especially in America, have low priority on healthy eating. Schools lack food and healthy meal support and the staff is unmotivated to add extra activities and lectures about nutrition. There is little supervision to what students are eating. In the United States vending machines are located in roughly 98 percent of the schools. (Lissau 2007) Removing vending machines will help decrease the chances of having junk food and carbonated drinks.
Schools need to start preventing obesity by bringing activities to the children and making them a requirement. The only time children in school are not sitting down is during breaks or during physical education. In most cases a physical education class is less than an hour and only a few times a week. The length of time should be increased each week and the amount of times the breaks occur should be increased as well. Also, many students are enrolled in after school day care programs and by putting more physical activity into after school events would decrease the chance for obesity (Lissau).
Physical activity has a major impact on body composition and metabolism making it a key treatment and prevention of obesity. It increases energy expenditure maintains lean body mass, and increases mobilization as well as burning body fat. Physical activity also has other benefits. One must have physical activity for normal growth, development of cardio respiratory endurance, muscle strength, flexibility, motor skills, and agility. Activities such as: walking, jumping, and weight lifting help bone development as well. Physical activity in children and adolescence has not just been proven to be a good thing. It also has some downfalls as well. Changes in energy expenditure or energy intake can occur at critical times in development in infants or adolescence and it can result in energy imbalance.
Physical activity can have a different impact on different groups, such as male and female, ethnic groups, active and inactive. Different individuals will be impacted differently. World Health Organization recommends a minimum of thirty minutes a day of moderate physical activity. Moderate physical activity is defined as activity that requires three to six times as much energy as the energy needed in a resting state ( Nowicka, 2006). For children and adolescence, World Heath Organization recommends an additional twenty minutes of vigorous physical activity at least three times a week. Vigorous physical activity requires more than six METs, such as jogging and running at least 8.0 km per hour (Nowicka, 2006). Nordic Nutrition Recommendations recommends an hour of activity should include moderate and physical intensity but it can be divided out throughout the day (Nowicka).
A study conducted by the National Weight Registry shows how maintaining a healthy diet and physical activity affects overweight and obese people. They studied successful and unsuccessful weight loss treatments. Ones dietary intake and the amount of physical activity are the main weight maintainers in adults and children. Adults maintain weight easier with more physical activity than children need. Having a low fat intake works better than physical activity for maintaining weight in children. The study also showed that the heavier and younger the subject was, the more weight that was lost. Boys also had a tendency to lose more weight than females in the long term weight maintenance.
Catching the early signs of obesity gives one the opportunity to prevent the disease. Managing obesity is based on lifestyles where physical activity and behavior is a key target. Physical activity is a key treatment and prevention to obesity and should be a main focus of children and adolescence. Obesity is also decreased by sleeping longer, high education of your parents, and having more siblings ( Elanson-Albertsson & Zetterstrom, 2005).
It is important to have a variety of activity each day. Getting only one form of activity each day will only work certain muscles in the body. A popular form of activity for obese patients has been resistance training. Resistance training helps improve musculoskeletal fitness. Working various muscles is a key solution to decreasing body fat and lowering the amount of obesity in the world. Physical education classes may be the only way some children get any activity throughout the day. Physical education teachers are very important role models for children and it is important for them to stress the importance of physical activity (Nowicka, 2006).
The table below shows how a child can get in the suggested one hour of physical activity each day. If one gets in an hour a day it can be a major factor to prevent obesity in the world. Limiting time spent watching television and playing video games has reduced the amount of overweight children. There are many ways to get in one hour of physical activity each day. Walking to school and then home from school is a great way to exercise for twenty to thirty minutes. Also, cleaning a room in the house allows you to be moving and bending over. Climbing stairs is a great way to get in physical activity, walking to a friends rather than driving, going shopping and walking the do g. Avoiding rides to school, watching television, and avoiding playing video games will help accomplish ones goal of completing the one hour recommended amount of exercise each day (Nowicka, 2006).
In the Untied States 15.5% of teenagers are overweight. Being overweight as a teenager can lead to three different diseases as an adult these can be type two diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart attack. A heart attack is not as common as the other two, but can still be dangerous. The first disease is type two diabetes. This is a disease that affects the metabolism when a person eats sugar, which is the body’s main source of fuel. If a person has type two diabetes, it is very difficult for their body to keep a normal glucose level. If this disease is not treated correctly it could be life threatening. As of right now there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but there are many things that can be done to help control it. A person can eat healthier foods, and add some type of exercise to their daily routine. It is best to get this under control as a teenager, because as a teenager it is easier to change a person’s lifestyle, and it will be more effective in the future. A disease can be very harmful a person in the future.
Sleep apnea is another disease that is a major risk in a person’s life and can cause early death due to obesity. Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder which can cause a person to stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep, and cause drowsiness during the day. Obesity also causes blood pressure to rise, and because of the high blood pressure it causes the heart to over work, and weakens the heart muscle. This causes the blood vessels to harden, which creates a greater chance of getting a blood clot increase, which makes it more likely to have a stroke or heart attack.
Even though there are medical situations that can harm a person as a result from obesity; there are some beneficial medical treatments. Gastric bypass surgery is an option for many people to lose the weight fast. Many people these days are turning to gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass surgery is a permanent treatment to help obese people lose a certain amount of weight. This surgery is more common for adults, but some doctors feel that it could be helpful for teenagers as well. Gastric bypass surgery makes the stomach smaller, and allows food to bypass the small intestine. It helps a person feel full faster than usual, and results in fewer calories being absorbed, which leads to weight loss.
A study was held where Leptin was infused in rats when they were born and they grew up to be leaner adults. Leptin is a hormone that regulates the body weight and metabolism. Although this raises ethical issues, giving newborns a shot of leptin when born will set them up for a more lean future. This may seem dramatic when there are healthy and natural ways of preventing obesity.
Different organs of the body have drives or cravings for different types of food. The brain has the highest energy requirement of any of the organs. The total consumption of the brain is forty percent of newborn infants and twenty five percent in children and ten percent in adults. Because America has so many types of food available, the choice of fat and carbohydrates are around forty five percent each. ( Elanson-Albertsson & Zetterstrom, 2005). Foods that are high in fat and sucrose are more satisfying than other types of foods and it is easier to overeat and become obese. Sucrose that is in a fluid has more potential to trigger your appetite than sucrose in a solid food (Elanson-Albertsson & Zetterstrom, 2005).
Obesity is an imbalance between energy expenditure and dietary energy intake. There are many variables that cause obesity in our society and there are many affects that go along with this disease. Preventing obesity must be started at a young age and parents must take action in giving their child a healthier lifestyle. Teens must avoid the pressures of society and be smart about the health choices they make. In order to make progress in preventing obesity schools need to educate the children more about its causes and its deadly affects, but most importantly how to prevent it. Keeping a healthy diet and regular exercise decreases ones chance of obesity and will help one live a healthier and happier life.