obesity

Helping Future Generations

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Child Eating McDonalds, Unattributed

This photograph emphasizes the common stereotype that fast food is causing obesity in American children. This image displays two young boys, who are overweight eating McDonalds.   While obesity rates are growing in the U.S, educating American children in school could help instill healthy eating habits and improve society’s health.

As obesity has transformed from a problem to an epidemic in the United States, and prevention appears to be the most effective solution, future obesity rates could be reduced by implementing programs at schools that focus on promoting the importance of nutrition and fitness in younger generations.

Publicizing information about nutrition and fitness in school environments would be beneficial. School environments have become a place that promotes physical inactivity and increased consumption of unhealthy food.  “Focusing on this environment will help increase awareness to children at a young age in order for them to stay informed of the importance of nutrition and exercise” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  It would further educate students on current obesity-related problems, encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices. If young children are exposed to issues on obesity and are aware of the importance of remaining healthy, future obesity rates are predicted to decrease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  In order for school programs to be most effective, a focus must be placed on prevention.  Despite the improvements that still need to be made, several schools around the country are beginning to take action.

This school in particular has already seen compelling improvements in their students’ health.  The principal has made an active effort to set aside time each day to focus on the children’s fitness and nutrition. These two factors have been proven to be advantageous in preventing obesity. Because of the progress this school has made, they have earned national recognition. Programs similar to this one could be beneficial in other schools around the country. It has the potential to help prevent obesity rates from further perpetuating. Due to the fact that students spend a large amount of time at school, school environments affect the way children develop habits around healthy lifestyle choices.

“The school food environment has the potential to have a large impact on children’s and adolescents’ diets because they consume a substantial proportion (between 19 and 50 percent) of their total daily calories at school” (Story, Nanney, and Schwatz  73).  Keeping this in consideration, children do not have their parents there to monitor what they eat while at school. Despite the fact that parents may try to teach their children to make healthy eating choices, children are often inclined to follow their peers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  If unhealthy food choices are easily accessible, commonly consumed, and cheap in nature, it is likely students will take advantage of the unhealthy options due to the convenience and cost.

School food choices can be split into two different sections: federal lunch and breakfast programs, and foods and beverages sold outside the formal meal plan, such as those in vending machines. The latter of the two sections is commonly known as competitive foods because they compete with the nutritionally regulated school programs. A direct correlation has been recognized between competitive foods and obese students; the more competitive foods readily available results in a higher number of overweight students.  “33 percent of elementary schools, 71 percent of middle schools, and 89 percent of high schools had a vending machine, school store, canteen, or snack bar where students could purchase food or beverages” (Story, Nanney, and Schwatz 73). Although eliminating competitive food completely has previously resulted in complications, a high percentage of parents believe schools in particular must find alternative solutions that improve the health of their children.

An experiment was conducted that found parents cited schools more often than health care providers. These parents believe it is the schools responsibility to reduce obesity. “Up to 65% of parents feel schools should play a major role in efforts to curb obesity. The majority of US children are schooled outside the home, thus the education system provides an established infrastructure for targeted implementation of childhood public health interventions. Schools offer access to children, the facilities requisite for classroom or physical education interventions, and the personnel capable of being involved in such efforts” (Kropski, Keckley and Jenson) The ideal school based prevention program would reduce obesity rates in future generations by facilitating permanent improvements in nutrition and fitness. Prevention has shown to be the most cost effective and efficient option; this makes it evident that prevention programs have the most potential to improve obesity rates in children and future generations (Kropski, Keckley and Jenson).

Obesity is continuing to grow at an uncontrollable rate in the U.S. Implementing prevention programs in schools that educate young students of the importance of nutrition and fitness has the potential to decrease future obesity rates. These programs alone may not fully fix the rising issue of obesity, but it is a start.  “While the schools alone cannot solve the childhood obesity epidemic, it also is unlikely that childhood obesity rates can be reversed without strong school-based policies and programs to support healthy eating and physical activity” (Story, Nanney, and Schwatz 72). As the stereotype of the “lazy Americans” is continuously perpetuated, it seems evident that obesity needs to be addressed before the quality of life for millions of Americans needlessly declines.

Bibliography

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and Overweight. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

Kropski, Jonathan,  Paul Keckley, and Gordon Jensen.  “School-based Obesity Prevention Programs: An Evidence-based Review” Wiley Online Library: Obesity A Research Journal 16.5 (2008): 1009-1018. Web 20 Oct. 2013.

Story, Mary, Marilyn Nanney, and  Marlene Schwatz. “Schools and Obesity Prevention: Creating School Environments and Policies to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.” Milbank Quarterly 87.1 (2009): 71-100. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

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Helping Future Generations

Do Fat People Really Eat More?,  A. Stefanik, 1959

Do Fat People Really Eat More?, A. Stefanik, 1959

This photograph emphasizes the common stereotype that fast food is causing obesity in American children by displaying two young boys overweight eating McDonalds.

There are two obese boys displayed in this photograph. They are eating McDonalds. The boy on the right appears to be capturing the most attention in the picture. He is wearing a shirt that reveals his body type. The shirt is low cut, and sleeveless, which shows the number of rolls on both his arms. The low cut sides of the shirt are showing the extra weight on his stomach because it is seeping through the sides.          The napkin hanging over his shirt is greasy. The grease could have come from the large empty container of fries in front of him. The boy next to him is eating while trying to pick up his cup. The chances that the cup is filled with a very sugary drink is very likely, especially because McDonalds has a variety of sodas and juices that are self filled. This is allowing the boys to choose what they want to drink and whenever they want it. What they are most concerned about it eating all the food that is still left on the table.  The two boys have very similar facial features and quiet possibly could be related. The brother to the right looks much older and slightly bigger. This is foreshadowing the younger boy in the future. Unfortunately, the older boy is being a very poor example of a role model.

There have been numerous studies and lawsuits that have been published on people gaining weight or being diagnosed with a health issue due to the unhealthy amount of fast food consumed.  This was very common pattern especially with McDonalds. Because of the previous experiences and research that has been done on the affect this type of food causes, it is not unusual the see these obese boys consuming this unhealthy food. This most likely was not their first time eating at this type of place. As many times as McDonalds will try and improve their menus or add healthier options, there will always be the generic food choices that will attract young boys. This type of food is the happy meals that come with toys and prizes. These meals are usually fried chicken and French fries that are filled with fat. Substituting fruit instead of fries is normally an additional fee some families cannot afford. These boys do not seem happy but it is clear they are enjoying their meals. The fries and burgers are tasteful, the boys are uneducated on the affects it is causing their bodies. Educating them in schools could help instill the significant harm fast food restraints are causing.

The stereotype that fast food is causing obesity has been around for decades. In fact, fast food is causing and has caused people to become extremely overweight. It has always been known that fast food is unhealthy, but because of the low prices and accessibility, grabbing a quick meal has been the most realistic option for most families. Despite the fact fast food restraints are trying to improve the food they offer, the stereotype will continue to be prevalent in America because the obesity rate is only continuing to increase.

Stefanik, P. “Caloric Intake in Relation to Energy Output of Obese and Non-Obese Adolescent Boys.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 7 (1995) 55-62. Electronic.

 

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Obesity. Thanks McDonalds.

Geissbuehler Obese Boy

Obese boy eating at McDonald’s

In the photograph of the little boy eating McDonald’s fast food, there is clear evidence that the child is severely obese. More and more Americans are becoming morbidly obese. Not only is this a health problem, but obesity also affects how Americans are viewed from an outsider’s point of view.

The photograph, which was most likely recently taken given the modern look, shows two boys around the age of five or six. Both boys are morbidly obese, given the amount of fat rolls on their arms. The two boys also have a blown up face full of fat. While the boy on the left is stuffing his face with some sort of McDonald’s fast food item, the boy on the right is pointing towards something. He is most likely pointing at some sort of food item, wanting it. The boys do not have the typical kid’s meals, which are clearly meant for children, in front of them. Instead, they have the drink cups that come with the meals that are meant for adults. The boy in the red sleeveless shirt has a napkin tucked into the shirt. He probably has this napkin there because he is such a messy eater purely from stuffing his face too quickly. On the table in front of the children, is an empty McDonald’s French fries container. On the plastic serving tray, there is a pile of French fries, waiting to be eaten.

In today’s world, especially in the United States, more and more people are eating larger amounts of food. Since fast food is cheaper than healthy food, that is the route that many young people and entire families take. There has been a large increase in morbidly obese people, not only in America, but also across the globe. The photograph of the young boys eating at McDonald’s and stuffing their faces shows how horrible the problem of obesity is really getting. Now, even very young children are eating too much unhealthy food and becoming obese. That the parents let their children get so sick is still a question I wonder. Why would you let your child become morbidly obese? Overfeeding children just increases their health problems, plus it is not attractive.

When the boy is pointing at the possible fast food item, which is not in the photograph, all I can think of is the child wanting even more food. This shows how people can never get enough of food. Once someone is obese, it is very hard for him or her to actually stop eating such large amounts of food. The boys in the photograph seem to be at that stage all ready. It also looks like the boys can hardly move. They are most likely not doing any physical activity because it must be so hard for them to move their body. The arms of the boy have so many fat rolls.

Not only is it a problem for the Americans that so many people are becoming morbidly obese, it is also a problem for America’s reputation. The photograph is taken in a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. All over the world, there are McDonald’s restaurants. The franchise has branched out so much in the recent years. Most people across the globe know that McDonald’s is a cheap, disgusting yet still delicious fast food chain that is purely American. When non-Americans go into these restaurants in their own countries, they get the experience of a fast food meal. A lot of these people believe that this is what America is all about: cheap and disgusting food.

People need to realize that being morbidly obese can severely impact health. Families should start feeding their children healthier food and encouraging physical activity. Not only is obesity affecting Americans in the personal health way, it is also affecting American’s reputation. In order to restore our reputation, we need to take charge and end obesity once and for all.

Boy with McDonald’s. Technorati. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. http://technorati.com/lifestyle/family/article/common-threads-of-childhood-obesity/

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Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?

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More and more children are becoming obese… What’s the reason?

The spike in weight gain that the current generation of children is experiencing is the fault of parents because they influence what their children eat, how often they exercise, and what values they have.

The life expectancy of each consecutive generation has been steadily climbing upward, until now. In some areas, up to a third of children are obese and the majority of them will grow into obese adults, which will lead to younger deaths. But do we blame our current society for making it easy to be inactive or making unhealthy food also the cheapest, most convenient food? No. Parents are those who should care the most about their child’s quality of life and life expectancy but recent studies show how detrimental parent’s actions can be to their children’s health.

Obesity in a child is directly linked to how he was raised because from a child’s first breath to the moment he reaches independence, parents are responsible for developing his eating habits. It is important to begin fostering proper nutrition early because people develop their food preferences and their general patterns of eating early on in childhood. Children are more likely to eat foods that they are exposed repeatedly early on in life (Lindsay 171). Parents need to realize that the foods and drinks their children are exposed to will remain embedded in their subconscious and affect their likelihood of being healthy.

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Monitoring food choices is not only important in the first few years but parents also have the responsibility of maintaining a healthy household until the child leaves the nest. In order to prevent weight gain, parents should limit the times they go out to dinner or order fast food and pizza. Unhealthy food should be limited and healthy low calorie snacks should be made readily available to kids of all ages. When kids come to the age where they have to eat meals at school, parents can pack them a healthy nutritious lunch rather than the convenient route of handing them 5 dollars and hoping they don’t spend it all on cookies.

Similarly to their responsibility to foster good nutrition, parents need to promote physical activity in their child’s life. Some may assume that it is part of the child’s personality, their natural likes and dislikes, if they enjoy being active. This is proven false by studies that show children are more likely to be active if their parents are (O’dea 300). Young children don’t know what exercise is or how to be active so they are fully relying on the responsible adults in their lives to promote safe opportunities for physical activity (Hills 54).

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Parents who are active are more likely to have kids that are active as well.

If physical activity doesn’t seem like a factor in preventing obesity, read into the many studies that prove “physical activity is associated with lowering risks of accelerated weight gain and excess adiposity among preschool aged children” (Lindsay 172). Having a proven, studied method of prevention for a disease and then not utilizing it to its fullest potential is a reason that their children are growing wider. If exercise is a normal part of a child’s life, they will forever keep making good choices to protect that body. Parents however are main promoters of exercise and if they fail to do so, their children will have a greater risk of becoming obese.

In addition to simply enforcing how to eat and exercise, parents must also be role models in every aspect of health. One study showed that the likeliness that a child would be active increased when both of his parents were also active (Lindsay 172). When a whole family becomes involved in a fitness program, the changes are easier to make because the child will have endless outlets of support to turn to (Hills 154). Parents and older role models can greatly impact the life decisions that a child makes, and proven by studies, children will have a greater desire to be active if their role models are too.

fatkid

Parents use television and video games as free babysitters.

Parents who are inactive can have the same effect. When parents watch two or more hours of TV a day, their children are twice as likely to be inactive than in families where parents make watching TV a special treat (Lindsay 173). Parents shouldn’t let children have TV’s in their bedrooms, however the majority of parents see TV as a free babysitter and a way to easily entertain their children with little effort so many are putting TV’s in their children’s rooms. About 68% of children have a television in their bedroom (Lindsay 174). Excessive TV viewing has been linked to weight gain so parents should be enforcing rules that limit screen time among their children.

Nutritionally, parents should practice what they preach in order for their children to latch on to the healthy behaviors they need to avoid becoming obese. A child will eat what and how their parents eat.

If a child notices that his dad grabs a snack every time he sits down in front of the TV, the child will do the same probably for his whole life. If a child notices that his parents eat heaping portions of “bad” foods, the child will know that this is normal and he will try to do the same to be like his parents.

Ultimately, if parents can establish healthy eating habits and a love for physical activity while also practicing the rules they preach, childhood obesity can be avoided. Hopefully parents will become enlightened with the knowledge that it is their fault that their children are becoming obese and once they accept that, they can take the necessary measures to reverse the epidemic and prevent it from happening again.

Works Cited:

Hills, Andrew (Editor), Neil King (Editor) and Nuala Byrne (Editor). Children, Obesity and Exercise. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Lindsay, Ana C. “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity”. The Future of Children, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 169-186. Princeton University Spring, 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

O’dea, Jennifer (Editor), and Michael Eriksen (Editor). Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies and Interventions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Images:

http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kty/lowres/ktyn197l.jpg

http://www.steadyhealth.com/130837/Image/obesity_child.jpg

http://api.ning.com/files/Cq6BfEXzuVCJZEQPslkRfNqBdawBT2p1TBt7w4QMDI0wRpP1JLieEtEc*f-Jz0H45MaKWYJ8DEAcbud0c3SBy7w36Tcl5-fo/108696268.jpg?width=275

http://medicineworld.org/images/blogs/9-2009/obese-boy.jpg

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Short Cuts

There are parents today that make short cuts in parenting that have harmful effects in the long run for their children’s health. Just because fast food is convenient, inexpensive, and begged for by children, doesn’t mean that it is in any way beneficial past the initial primal need for food.

The central focus of the cartoon is the oversized baby who appears to be shouting or crying. Behind the baby to the right is a soft drink that is even larger than the baby itself. His left hand rests comfortably on a giant chicken nugget and his right hand is reaching eagerly for the jumbo size carton of fries that his eyes are fixated on. Holding the fries and offering them willingly is a man who appears to be the baby’s father. Next to the man is the baby’s mother who stands with her hands clasped looking lovingly at her enormous offspring.

There’s no doubt that the parents portrayed in this cartoon don’t have love and affection for their baby but I would doubt that they are thinking about how their short cut choices are going to damage their child’s health forever. Fast food is easy to get and easy to feed to any child. Have you ever met a kid that turned down a chicken nugget? But fast food isn’t an easy habit to kick once a kid figures out how much more delicious a french-fry is than a carrot stick. The baby in this cartoon is so large to imply that the way that he is being fed is going to affect him in the long run. With his parents extremely on board to feed him fast food, the baby will most likely become obese assuming he’s not about to start running track at 24 months or have an extremely fast metabolism. The artist’s inclusion of the parents in the image implies that it is parents fault that children eat what they do. If it was just a baby eating fast food, the artist could have been blaming society for making fast food such a staple in our lives. However, this cartoon is clearly a stab at the parents who choose to take the short cut in raising their children and overlook the importance of a nutritious and balanced diet.

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