Obesity is such a hot topic in America today and childhood obesity and the ethical arguments over obesity has greatly increased over the last 10 years. Health problems that occur from this deadly disease is something that no one wants to talk about. When people think about health, what usually is discussed is cancer or heart disease. Not many people really think about one of the biggest issues out there that is really not taken very seriously and that is obesity. In America there are hundreds of thousands of children that are overweight. Obesity is a disease, a disease associated with many other health issues, including congestive heart problems, diabetes among other physical and mental complications associated with this disease. We will discuss throughout this paper how one of the classical theories would help resolve the problems that are associated with the dangers of childhood obesity, then discuss the perspective of society and how it relates to relativism in today’s world.
There are many arguments about how childhood obesity starts, who’s to blame for allowing this to happen and societies ethical and moral obligation associated with fixing the problem. Who or what is to blame for the increasing levels of childhood obesity? Some believe it is the parents themselves; others accuse the food industry and government. One fact cannot go unchallenged and that is the longer this disease is allowed to grow and is not brought under CHILDHOOD OBESITY 3 control, the higher the percentage of childhood obesity will increase and the effects and diseases will become an even greater risk to kids.
It is important to recognize childhood obesity as a disease condition and the role that is played in aggravating the development of other diseases (Barton, 2012). There are numerous health issues that will happen to our children now, and as they reach adulthood if we do not act now to help prevent these ramifications from happening. Childhood obesity is associated with an increase for other diseases not only during childhood but as the youth become adolescent and then into adulthood. “Obesity in childhood causes a wide range of serious complications, and increases the risk of premature illness and death later in life”. (Strauss, RS, 1999) Obesity in children if left neglected, will increase the risk of developing chronic adult diseases. There are substantial risk for obese children even before they reach adulthood. Of equal concern is that obese children could become obese adults. (Papoutsakis, 2007)
Childhood obesity not only affects today’s generation but will also affect tomorrow’s adulthood. Obesity in children has become a major ethical and moral challenge for today’s society and is now threatening to become a disease with multiple health risk for today as well as beyond. Obesity is a disease, a disease that if not taken seriously may have health ramifications for years to come. The problem with childhood obesity is not just the weight issue but the other diseases associated with the neglect of this disease. Understanding and working CHILDHOOD OBESITY 4
towards solutions will only improve the chances of solving this disease and all other diseases associated with childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other breathing issues, and heart disease on the physical side of this disease. On the mental side, childhood obesity can be associated to depression, low self esteem, and learning problems are associated with childhood obesity. Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which previously affected only adults, have begun to show up in with increasing frequency in youths in recent years. The primary cause is the growing number of overweight and obese children.
(CDC,2011) As the number of children’s weight have increased their cholesterol levels have also increased, adding for concern of cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. Childhood obesity is also linked to depression in youth as well as young adults. Obese children face ridicule and teasing from other students in school as well as a decrease in friends. This leads to isolation and depression which could lead to low self-esteem into adulthood. Obese children are sometimes withdrawn in the classroom which diminishes their learning ability and social skills development which affects social interaction in adulthood.
What causes childhood obesity? Obesity in childhood is influenced by social and family matters as well as their DNA and activity level through out the day. Childhood obesity is the result of eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity.2 (CDC, 2011) In today’s society, most children spend most of their day playing video games or sitting around CHILDHOOD OBESITY 5
watching television. “It has been estimated that roughly 60-92% of children play computer games daily”. (Papoutsakis, 2007) With the staggering number of television viewing, the role of food advertisers must be addressed as one of the causes of obesity. “Nearly half of U.S. middle schools allow advertising of less healthy foods, which impact students decision making of healthy food choices”. (CDC, 2011) Portion control has also changed for kids in the last five years. “ Portion sizes of less healthy foods and beverages have increased over time in restaurants, grocery stores, and vending machines.
Research shows that children eat more without realizing it if they are served larger portions. This can mean they are consuming a lot of extra calories, especially when eating high-calorie foods.” (CDC , 2011) Another factor that is affecting obesity is children is the fact that most families in today’s world are way to busy to enjoy a meal at home and spend more time eating out on fast food. In summation, in today’s world, kids are not exercising like they should and are eating the wrong type of food as well as eating more to satisfy their appetites. Television and video game playing is a contributing factor because it takes away time that is needed to exercise and influences kids to make unhealthy and irrational choices concerning food consumption based on food advertisements.
By not confronting childhood obesity, we are not facing the challenges associated with this disease. It is not a matter of who is to blame for childhood obesity, we all know that this disease is very prevalent in children today. “ Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate of a generation ago” (CDC, 2011). The numbers are staggering and the health ramifications associated with this disease cannot be discounted. The CHILDHOOD OBESITY6
preliminary findings are disturbing with regards to the disease and consequences of not finding solutions to fight this disease. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic that is causing life threatening diseases. Obesity has become a serious health issue and causes 2.6 billion deaths each year. (Raj, Kumar, 2010, p.598) The threat of of this disease cannot be discounted and must be addressed before it’s too late for this generation.
There are many different ways to combat obesity in children. There must be a plan in place for it to be successful. The plan must include changing the eating habits of today’s youth. Children must eat planned out meals, eating meals as a family instead of eating out on the run. Limiting the amount of snacking throughout the course of the day, knowing what the children are eating when they are in school. Controlling the portions or the amount of food that is consumed and increasing the physical activity. Putting a plan in place will help manage and hopefully decrease the chance of childhood obesity in today’s youth.
Executing the plan and trying to resolve the problems associated with this disease is high on the political, public health and research agenda. However, programs to prevent overweight and obesity are susceptible to various ethical shortcomings and need assistance for a successful remedy to eh problem of childhood obesity. One classical therory that should help with the success to combact obesity is deontology.
Deontology theroy is to make the correct moral choices, we have to understand what our moral duties are and what correct rules exist to regulate those duties. When we follow our duty, we are behaving morally. When we fail to follow our duty, we are behaving immorally and this is where we have to step in and take moral actions to reduce and prevent childhood obesity. A common criticism of deontological moral systems is that they provide no clear way to resolve conflicts between moral duties. a deontological moral system should include both a moral duty not to lie and one to keep others from harm so we can see why this theory best fits with childhood obesity, although it is our duty to help and support there really is not a clear way to resolve the problem relating to this terrible disease that affects million of children each and every year.
In conclusion, childhood obesity has risen to significant levels nationally with serious health consequences. In addition to diabetes, heart complications, emotional, and social issues, this disease poses a serious hazard to the health care of America. Unless this disease is taken seriously, the implications of this disease of future generations will be devastating and might be unrecoverable.
Barton, M. (2012). Childhood obesity: A life-long health risk. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 33(2), 189-93. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/aps.2011.204 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Overweight and Obesity, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html Manu Raj and R. Krishna Kumar (2010), Obesity in Children and Adolescents. Indian J Med Res. 2010 November; 132(5): 598–607 Papoutsakis, C. (2007). Gene–diet interactions in childhood obesity: Paucity of evidence as the epidemic of childhood obesity continues to rise. Personalized Medicine, 4(2), 133-146. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/174105188.8.131.52 Reilly, J. J. (2007), Childhood Obesity: An Overview. Children & Society, 21: 390–396 Strauss RS. Risks and consequences of childhood and
adolescent obesity. Int J Obesity 1999; 23 (suppl): S2–11.