Child obesity has reached epidemic proportions in countries such as the United States, and is a growing issue that has profound consequences of physical and emotional development in children. Obesity is largely the result of lack of exercise and dietary lifestyle choices that promote weight gain, and when these habits begin early in childhood they have a strong potential to persist for the rest of an individual’s life. The detrimental effects of obesity have led to a rise in skyrocketing diseases, with diabetes being at the top of the list. Unfortunately, diabetic children are at greater risk of developing high cholesterol and hypertension, also increasing the chances of suffering from heart complications. Medical bills and office visits seem to be growing alongside their weight, due to the major health problems many face from being overweight.
Many factors contributing to child obesity are associated with dietary habits, physical inactivity, and socio-economic status. In the article “Prevalence of Obesity, Diabetes, and Obesity-Related Health Risk Factors” researchers conclude that obesity in childhood leads to both immediate and long-term health consequences, including an increased risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, joint problems, and an overall poor health status. The researchers point out that a third of high blood pressure cases and 88 to 97% of cases of type II diabetes are a result of obesity. Furthermore, their research draws attention to the correlation between obesity and congestive heart failure, heart attack, sudden cardiac death, abnormal heart rhythms, and how high cholesterol and hypertension in overweight individuals place them at even a greater risk of stroke.
The authors add, in a population based sample 70% of obese youths had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Although the research points out a strong link between obesity and many chronic diseases, it is a health issue that can be prevented by encouraging children to practice regular exercise and to focus on choosing healthier foods for their body. The opportunity for children to consume an abundance of fast food than earlier generations has created vast opportunities for adolescents to become obese. The high consumption of sugary foods and drinks with minimal nutritional value, particularly in school cafeterias has become a primary culprit. It is highly evident that the majority of food options in schools contain high caloric starched carbohydrates loaded with tons of grease, oil, cream, cheese, and butter.
Tragically the junk foods offered in schools are increasing the likelihood of diabetes and other major health problems, so it is of utmost importance to increase education and government interventions due to childhood obesity increasing worldwide. Educated families of healthy dietary options, and transforming unhealthy cafeteria school meals, will greatly increase awareness and improve the overall health of children lives’. To help address the childhood obesity problem, the First Lady, Michelle Obama has initiated the campaign “Let’s Move” which aimed to influence healthy eating habits in children by providing healthier lunch options in schools, and to do this she helped pass a bill to increase funding for school cafeterias to replace their unhealthy foods with salad bars.
The First Lady also worked with the American Beverage Association to develop clearer calorie labels for soda. There is a severe challenge in low-income neighborhoods, being bombarded with fast food joints and very few healthy supermarkets. Many families are not able purchase nutritious meals, nor wholesome organic fruits, vegetables, and meat.