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Childhood Obesity

Jewel Brooks
HLTH 634 Health Communication and Advocacy
November 15, 2015

Introduction

The purpose of the review is to educate readers on childhood obesity. Given


the preponderance of evidence in the research literature that childhood obesity is a
significant risk factor for future health problems, this obesity is considered a major
public health problem. The risk factors associated with obesity that threaten the
publics health, and the multiple and interrelated factors associated with childhood
overweight and obesity, are well documented in the literature. My proposed
intervention is dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so
that children will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining
comprehensive strategies with common sense, this program is about putting
children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years;
giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy
choices; providing healthier foods in our schools; ensuring that every family has
access to healthy, affordable food; and, helping children become more physically
active. The body of this review will consist of the background of childhood obesity,
factors contributing to childhood obesity, the effects of obesity, importance in
having a childhood obesity intervention, and research studies.
Body of Evidence
The term obesity is used to describe the health condition of anyone
significantly above his or her ideal healthy weight. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) describes children as being at risk for overweight if they are
above the 85th percentile body mass index (BMI) and defines childhood overweight
as a BMI at or above the sex- and age-specific 95th percentile BMI cut points from
the 2000 CDC Growth Charts. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Chart
book, Health, United States (2007) provides data on the prevalence of overweight
for children from 6 to 19 years of age based upon national studies completed from
the mid-1960s to 2004. Childhood overweight is becoming evident in younger ages,
with studies documenting a sizable increase in the percentage of overweight
children between the ages of two and three years (Nelson, Chiasson, & Ford, 2004).
The prevalence of overweight among 4- and 5-year-olds increased from 5% to
10.4% between 1976 and 2000. As stated earlier, with overweight comes the risk of
further health problems. Some studies have demonstrated that childhood
overweight prompts the development of biomarkers for serious illnesses later in life.
The basic cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between
calories consumed and calories expended and maintaining your current body weight
indicates you are in caloric balance and to gain or lose weight, will need the balance
scale to tip in one direction or another to achieve a goal. A number of factors play a
role in obesity and it is a complex health issue to address - behavior, environment,
culture, socioeconomic status and genetic factors in disorders such as Bardet-Biedl
syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome - all play a part and may have an effect in
causing people to be overweight and obese. Overeating is another factor that
causes obesity. Over the past fifteen years the super-sized portions are increasing,
along with super-sized kids with super-sized problems (Kempster, 2004). Many areas

of a child's life are influenced by this increase in overeating. For example, there
have been dramatic changes at school that have helped kids make more unhealthy
food choices. Cafeterias now serve food with larger fat content and low nutrition.
Soda and candy machines have also been conveniently placed in many schools
(Kempster, 2004).
There are many effects of obesity in itself. The high incidence of obesity
causes increased blood pressure, diabetes and also increased levels of low selfesteem and depression in the population (Neiman, 2004). Low self-esteem and
depression do not seem to be a direct effect of obesity, but Dr. Neiman (2004)
points out that obese children might have many social and physiological problems.
For example, many children who are obese are also often teased and ostracized
because of their weight. A recent study has found that obese boys are four times as
likely to suffer from depression when compared to their thinner peers. Researchers
have shown that discrimination against fat kids begin as early as kindergarten
(Patridge, 2003). The Journal of Medical Association has also shown that obese
children consider their quality of life "significantly impaired" to the same degree as
children being treated for cancer (Partridge, 2003).
Health care professional have published many preventative
recommendations for parents, teachers, school administrators, and officials
indicating ways to reduce obesity among children. A study conducted by James et
al. (2004) determined that if a school-based educational program aimed at reducing
consumption of carbonated drink can prevent excessive weight gain in children. The
study was conducted at six primary schools in southwest England and there was a
focus on educational programs on nutrition throughout one school year. The results
included a decrease in the consumption of carbonated drinks by 0.6 glasses in the
intervention group, but increased by 0.2 glasses in the control group. At 12 months
the percentage of overweight and obese children increased in the control group by
7.5% compared with a decrease in the intervention group by 0.2%. The study
concluded that a targeted school-based educational program produced a modest
reduction in the number of carbonated drinks consumed, which was associated with
a reduction in the number of overweight and obese children (James et al., 2004).
This study provides hope that single-variable intervention maybe successful in
limiting obesity and it also draws our attention to the significant contribution of
soda consumption on obesity. Children, parents and schools have been
overwhelmed with messages regarding diet, nutrition, exercise. The above study
gives children, parents and school a specific goal, to decrease soda consumption
with the benefit of weight reduction. Helping overweight or obese children lose
weight has been shown to be effective when there is a team (pediatrician, dietician
and other healthcare professionals) approach. Dr. Nieman (2004) also suggests that
there are many possible areas of change for overweight and obese children, they
can switch from full fat dressings to reduced fat or fat-free varieties and there can
be a decrease in the number of food items that are offered as rewards. Becoming

active is a key factor for weight reduction, but may not be very easy. Taking into
account how children think and behave is important when designing physical
activity programs.
Conclusion
In conclusion, a large number of childhood obesity intervention studies have
been conducted in high-income counties over the past three decades. They
predominantly took place in school settings, and mostly in the United States. Many
of the school-based studies also included intervention components implemented in
other settings, such as the home and community. Overall, there is moderate to high
strength of evidence that diet and/or physical activity interventions that are
implemented in schools help prevent weight gain or reduce the prevalence of
overweight and obesity. However, the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions
primarily implemented in other settings is largely low or insufficient. We need more
research to test interventions conducted in settings other than schools, especially to
test the impact of policy and environmental changes. We need to encourage
research that tests innovative interventions that take advantage of new
technologies, behavioral theories, and methodologies, including systems science.
There is clearly a need for health promotion policies in schools concerning diet and
exercise, support from food industries to offer more nutritious food, support from
both public and private industries to facilitate healthy pregnancies and local and
provincial and national funding and legislation to increase access to playground and
recreational facilities. The long-term benefits of reducing the obesity rates among
children are many and include the prevention of obese children from entering
adulthood with a long list of diseases. Leadership and advocacy from both health
professionals and scientists is required to bring about these changes and bring the
childhood obesity "epidemic" to an end.

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