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Epidemiology Essay

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The increasing ease of access to computers, computer games, the internet, and social acceptance of extended leisure time have seemingly caused the incidence teenage obesity rise at alarming rates (Teen obesity, 2011). There is of course no single contributing factor to the cause of obesity but research has linked a variety of biological, genetic, cultural and behavioral traits to the disease. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, childhood obesity is not typically caused by a particular medical disorders; “less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems.

Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to poor eating habits, overeating or binging, lack of exercise, family history of obesity, stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse), family and peer problems, low self-esteem, and depression or other emotional problems” (AACAP, 2011). While the typical “extra few pounds” are not necessarily detrimental to the overall health of an individual, the incidence of obesity in teens is a serious health issue as it puts the child at increased risk for emotional problems, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and undue stress on their young body (AACAP, 2011).

Direct links have been seen between obesity and complex health concerns of increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory complications and sleep disturbance (AACAP, 2011). It can cause issues like an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems, trouble sleeping (AACAP, 2011). Demographics The demographics of obesity are individualized to a person’s ideal weight for their height and body type. Obesity is categorized by having an excess of weight that is well outside of the medically accepted range based on height.

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There are varying degrees of obesity and being overweight is not the same as obesity. Obesity is categorized as being 20% or greater than the ideal weight for the individual (PAMF, 2011). The WHO’s definitions of “overweight” and “obese” are based on an individual’s body mass index (BMI), which measures weight relative to height. Overweight is marked by a BMI greater than or equal to 25 and obese is defined as having a BMI greater than or equal to 30 (World Health Organization, 2012).

While it is widely accepted that Americans are one of the most overweight countries in the world, many other nations have seen steady increases in their rates of obesity. Epidemiological data has shown that countries all over the world have been steadily gaining weight in all genders, ethnic groups, ages and educational levels (World Health Organization, 2012). According to the national Institute of Health, 15. 5% of teenagers were obese (2006). This means that a large number of teenagers today are at risk for health issues like heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as type 2- diabetes.

Obesity is a growing trend in all social classes and cultures; however it is disproportionately prevalent in certain ethnic populations. Obesity rates for example among “African American and Mexican American adolescents ages 12-19 were more likely to be overweight, at 21% and 23% respectively, than non-Hispanic White adolescents 14%” (aspe. hhs. gov, 2011). The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey concluded that this disparity is of great concern especially when considering that type-2 diabetes and heart disease is at present, a prevalent health concerns among these ethnic populations (aspe. hhs. ov, 2011). With obesity on the rise in vulnerable populations that are seemingly already at increased risk for related disease, further research and interventions should be aggressively sought. When considering the younger generations that are becoming increasingly overweight, lifestyle habits, particularly the acceptance of sedentary entertainment have to be highly considered as factors leading to the problem. The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) have established clear links that the sedentary nature of watching TV is linked with some unhealthy outcomes in kids (NCCOR, 2012).

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