Is There Any Need to Be Worried About Childhood Obesity?
Catherine (Boyuan Zheng)
ESLI Level 5P
Is There Any Need to Be Worried About Childhood Obesity?
Childhood obesity is a major focus of the society and the public health officials. And childhood obesity trends have increased dramatically over the past several years (Staniford, Breckon, & Copeland, 2012, p. 545). Overweight is measured by body mass index which is called BMI. According to the survey from the 2003 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), overweight increased from 7.2% to 13.9% among children during 2 to 5 years old and from 11% to 19% among children who are 6 to 11 years old. And among 12- to 19-year-olds, the statistics of overweight increased from 11% to 17.1% from 2003 to 2004 (Faith, Kerns, & Diewald, 2009, p.281). In the past several years, the statistics of childhood obesity has a dramatic global increase. Therefore, childhood obesity is becoming a more and more serious problem. According to Ebbeling, Pawlak and Luwing (2002), “[b]odyweight is regulated by numerous physiological mechanisms that maintain balance between energy intake and energy expenditure” (p.474).
The factors that cause childhood obesity include four aspects: (1) Genetic, perinatal, and early-life factors, such as “five genetic mutations that cause human obesity have been identified, all presenting in childhood, and the BMI normally decreases until 5-6 years, then increases through adolescence”; (2) Physical activity, children who are lack of exercises are easy to be obese, for example, television viewing is thought to promote weight gain because of keeping sitting; (3) Diet, for instance, fast food almost comprises all of the potentially adverse dietary factors, “including saturated and trans fat, high glycaemic index, high energy density, and, increasingly, large portion size”; and (4) Family factors, the risk of obesity is effected by the parent-children inactions and the home environment, for example, many families like to eat in restaurants which tends to serve larger portions of energy dense food (Ebbeling et al., 2002, pp.474-476). Nowadays, childhood obesity is becoming more and more serious. It has been identified as a harmful epidemic all over the world, especially in the U.S., Brazail and China (CIA World Factbook, 2009,
para.7). As childhood obesity causes many negative effects both on children themselves and on the healthcare system, it is important to pay attention to the possible solutions for childhood obesity. 2. The Negative Effects of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has negative effects on childhood life which include intelligent and health complications. In other words, obese children would meet many problems during their usual study and life. People need to concern the health complications which are associated with childhood obesity, including “Elevated blood pressure, hyperinsulinemia and glucose intolerance, respiratory abnormalities, poor body image, and increased adulthood mortality in females” (Faith et al., 2009, p.281). This reveals that childhood obesity has a significant negative influence on the maintenance of a healthy body, even in the future of childhood life. In addition, childhood intelligent quotient (IQ) is associated with childhood obesity. According to the research, “the FIQ [full intelligent quotient] and PIQ [performances intelligent quoient]of obesity in school-age children were lower than normal weight children” (Yu, Han, Cao, & Guo, 2009, p.665). In other words, obesity would make children face problems such as depression, social isolation, low self-esteem and poor academic performance.
Therefore, overweight children need to face more problems on health and intelligence than normal weight children. In addition, childhood overweight and obesity cause not only childhood life problems, but also the financial burden to the public health system. Obese children cost much higher publicly funded medical and pharmaceutical costs than normal weight children. According to Au’s research, “the financial burden of overweight and obesity occurs even during the first 5 years of primary school”, and “the prevention of overweight in children as young as 4-5 years could have significant economic (in addition to health) implications” (Au, 2012, p.670). This clearly shows that childhood obesity is the financial burden to public medical and pharmaceutical costs. Therefore, from an economic perspective, it is necessary to control the trends of childhood obesity. 3. The Treatments of Childhood Obesity
From the negative effects that are talked about, I discuss that it is
necessary to find effective solutions to solve the problems of childhood obesity. There are four solutions: (1) Diet modification, (2) Physical activity, (3) Psychotherapies for managing obesity, and (4) Parent participation. 3.1 Diet Modification
Diet Modification is the most useful and effective pattern for obese children losing weight. What obese children firstly need to do is to change the dietary behaviors and keep healthy dietary strategies. As Faith et al. points out, “behavior modification strategies, such as behavioral contracting, stimulus control, and/or a specific dietary plan, are required to help children lose weight (Faith et al., 2009, p.291). This reveals that it is powerful and useful to make a healthy dietary component such as moderate caloric restriction and low-fat diets for overweight children. In addition, making good food choices is also a good way to control obese children’s weight. Epstein (1988) gives an successful manner to children weight loss, it is called “Stoplight Diet” which “effectively shifts the emphasis from calorie counting to making smarter food choice, monitoring portion sizes” (as qtd. in Faith et al., 2009, p.291). In other words, when people select food, they need to keep a balance on the energy intake and energy expenditure consumption instead of only focusing on caloric restriction. Dietary modification is a significant way of solving problems for childhood obesity, and it is also a healthy way for obese children. 3.2 Physical Activity
In addition to dietary modification, increased physical activity is the other significant component of behavior treatments for overweight children. It suggests that exercise therapy is essential to the maintenance for losing weight. According to Epstein (1995), there are some “short-term effects of physical activity interventions on both children’s weight status as well as their cardiorespiratory fitness and other cardiovascular health benefits” (as qtd. in Faith et al., 2009, p.293). This clearly shows that physical activity is an effective way for obese children both on losing weight and keeping their important organs healthy. Furthermore, the therapy of physical activity for obese children is applied to physical education (PE) programs in schools. In the 2-year longitudinal investigation of elementary school children, it shows that “an appropriately designed and administered PE [physical education] program can produce benefits for elementary school children, not only by attenuating increases in percentage of body fat typical of children in this age group but also by enhancing numeracy development” (Telford et al., 2012, p.371). In other words, PE programs can be benefit both on keeping obese children’s weight losing and enhancing children’s capabilities of learning. To sum up, physical activity is an essential treatment for overweight children to lose weight and keep healthy. 3.3 Psychotherapies for managing obesity
Furthermore, there is another one which is called psychotherapies for managing obesity which are accepted by many overweight children’s parents. Psychotherapies for managing obesity can effectively change people’s behaviors about their unhealthy lifestyles. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is the most useful therapy in psychotherapies for managing obesity, and it “does not focus directly on binge episodes or on reducing bingeing, but rather on the dysregulated affect that can trigger binge eating” (Taylor, Stonehocker, Steele, & Sharma, 2012, p.15). In other words, DBT can successfully stop obese children from going on a binge, and help children to control themselves about their diet behaviors. In addition, there is another powerful treatment in psychotherapies for managing obesity. Taylor et al. also introduce motivational interviewing (MI) in their research, “MI is a strategy designed to enhance patients’ motivation for change and adherence to treatment and is fundamentally different from educational approaches” and “this type of approach may be particularly well suited to weight loss” (Taylor et al., 2012, p.15). In other words, in weight management, this behavior can make obese children follow plans for losing weight effectively, and make them insist on the strict diet component which helps them to lose weight. Therefore, psychotherapies for managing obesity can be successfully applied to solve the problems about childhood obesity, although this kind of treatments is controversial among parents. 3.4 Parent Participation
Finally, the benefit of parental participation in childhood weight-loss processes has drawn attention from the whole society. In other words, Parental participation is a useful and effective pattern to solve the issue
about childhood obesity. According to Golan et al. (1998), the research shows that “parental participation did not improve effect found for treating children alone. Although other data suggests that treating parent alone may be more effective for inducing child weight loss.” (as qtd. in Faith et al., 2009, p.295). This demonstrates that it would be better if parents take part in their children weight-loss programs, and they can make weight-loss programs effectively. In addition, parental participation can be better for obese children’s healthful eating. Faith et al. suggest parents that “[n]ever use food as a reward; establish daily family meal and snack times, offer only healthy food options; he a role model for children; and parents or caregivers should determine what food is offered and when, and the child should decide whether to eat” (Faith et al., 2009, p.295). This clearly shows that parents should focus on increasing praise for children’s healthy diet behaviors and activity choices. They also need to better plan the whole family eating and physical activity programs, and parental modeling. As a result, parental participation in childhood weight-loss programs has a positive effect for obese children losing weight. 4. Conclusion
Childhood obesity trends have increased dramatically during the past several years, it is important for people to pay attention to the treatments of childhood obesity. There are four main reasons for childhood obesity: Genetic, physical activity, diet and family factors. These factors make children face problems about childhood obesity, and have negative effects on both childhood life and society. As a result, there are four useful and powerful solutions for children weight-loss programs: (1) Diet modification, such as change unhealthy diet behaviors; (2) Physical activity, which suggests children to do more excises; (3) Psychotherapies for managing obesity, which is a way to use the theory of psychology to cure obese children; (4) Parent Participation, which advising involves patents to take part in children weight-loss programs. Through the whole research, we see that childhood obesity is becoming more and more serious in contemporary society. It is necessary for parents, schools and the whole society to pay more attention on obese children’s health. At the same time, they also need to help them to face and solve the problems about childhood obesity. References
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