Childhood obesity is one of the most predominant health epidemics facing the world today and more so the developed countries. It is very prevalent in the developed countries to a point that it is being considered as an epidemic that is powerful, and has extremely adverse effects on the welfare of the society. Alarming statistics show that worldwide obesity has almost doubled in the past two decades with over 1.4 billion people being obese by the year 2008 (Hearton, 2009). This figure shows that roughly 35% of the world’s population are obese. Childhood obesity negatively affects the life of a child in all aspects and in particular his or her health and the social perception of the child by the society.
Childhood obesity is defined as a condition whereby children in the age bracket between birth and puberty are highly overweight and have a body mass index (BMI) at the 95th percentile. It is caused by lack of body exercise and over-eating by children. The type of foods children eats both at school and at home play are the root cause of this problem (Kosterich, 2011). It is also triggered by other factors such as excessive watching of TV, playing video games while eating fast foods rather than nutritious home cooked meals. It is a severe medical condition and can lead to various medical problems such as hypertension, orthopedics, respiratory ailments, depression, low self- esteem, cholesterol, and Type 2 Diabetes. Various measures can be adopted to combat this epidemic. Parents, schools, family members, society, and all the stakeholders must play their roles in the fight against childhood obesity (Johnson, 2007).
Educating children is one of the major ways of eradicating or managing obesity. Family members, parents, schools and the society in general have a role to play in educating children about healthy lifestyles and mental health. By doing so, youngsters will be equipped with all the necessary information about obesity, such as the causes, risks associated with it, and various ways in which the childhood obesity can be prevented. It is very important to teach children the need for physical education, which simply means education through movements. Physical education involves engaging in physical activities such as exercises, sports, and games.
Parents have a duty of ensuring that their children are engaging in adequate physical activities. Children should be encouraged to do sports at least twice a week, which would give their bodies enough exercise and would not take a lot their time. It is a good idea for guardians and parents to organize and even participate in such family-oriented activities (Johnson, 2007). They can organize activities such as biking, hiking, bowling; ping-pong, tennis, and Frisbee just to mention a few. By engaging in such body exercise activities, children will lose weight and start feeling better as their bodies get more fit. Such activities are not only good in combating obesity, but also an effective way of relieving after school.
Stopping eating junk food and instead consuming healthy and nutritious food would play a major role in eliminating this problem. It is advisable to adopt healthy eating habits such as eating large quantities of fruits and vegetables. They should be encouraged to drink water instead of soft drinks like coke (Johnson, 2007). Parents have a role to play here by preparing healthy foods like snacks, fresh fruits, frozen juice bars, fresh cut vegetables and low-fat yoghurt that the children can consume for lunch at school rather than eating buns and hamburgers that are provided in most schools. Mixing complex carbohydrates with proteins would enhance synthesis of vital brain and body chemicals that would stabilize the child’s blood sugar and drastically reduce his or her appetite (Hearton, 2009).
Meditation also known as yoga is another key way of putting off excessive weight. Children suffer from daily stress that damage their health. They should be given time to relax for at least 20 minutes after which they are likely to feel spurt and active again. In case a child is a fidget, parents and guardians should try to listen to cool music together or even sing songs. Moreover, it is advisable to seek dietitian’s advice regularly in order to ensure that we eat healthy foods in order to be healthy and avoid obesity problems (Tynan, 2011).
In addition, parents should secure tools that are likely to cause distractions hence making their children live in a sedentary lifestyle. Such tools include TVs and video games among others. Parents can achieve a harmonious balance by choosing shows that have met the developmental needs of the children. On the other hand, they should block inappropriate shows such as adult sitcoms, soap operas as well as adult talk shows. Moreover, there should be a clear and well-stipulated program on when the television must be off particularly during study times. Active parenting ensures that children have a positive and adequate experience with TV (Parker, 2009). If properly guided, children can learn to use TV and video games in a healthy and positive manner while still implementing other activities like hobbies and sports
Other stakeholders such as video game manufacturers have a role to play. Some manufacturers have come up with systems that have games that help children keep on moving as the play. Consoles such as WII, Move, and Kinect have these features. Games promote body exercise through dancing, sports, and aerobics. They last for roughly 45 minutes and are well moderate in intensity what is exactly what the children want (Hearton, 2009). On the other hand, schools can reduce childhood obesity by encouraging physical activities and proper nutrition. This can be achieved through a Coordinated School Health Program (CSHP) (Parker, 2009). Such programs can provide healthy foods and beverages in schools rather than the unhealthy junk foods provided in most schools.
In conclusion, childhood obesity is a condition whereby children between birth and puberty are highly overweight and have a body mass index (BMI) at the 95th percentile. It is caused by eating junk foods, overeating and lack of body exercise. It has serious health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, and depression just to mention a few. It has become an epidemic in the modern world and parents, schools and the society in general must work hand in hand in order to combat it. Some of the methods that can be applied to prevent or treat obesity include educating children on the need for body/physical exercise, eating healthy foods, controlling time spent by children while watching TV and playing video games, as well as encouraging manufacturing of games that are played while moving.
- Heaton-Harris, N. (2009). Combating child obesity. Brighton, [England: Emerald Publishing.
- Institute of Medicine (U.S.)., Parker, L., Burns, A. C., & Sanchez, E. (2009). Local government actions to prevent childhood obesity. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
- Johnson, B. C. (2007). New prescription for childhood obesity: Fight childhood obesity with antioxidants & phytonutrients. New York: iUniverse, Inc.
- Kosterich, J. (2011, January 21). Are parents to blame for childhood obesity? [Web log post].