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Obesity is one of the leading chronic diseases throughout the world. Obesity is the leading cause of United States mortality, disability, morbidity, and last but not least healthcare costs adding up to billions of dollars in preventable spending each year. Obesity in scientific terms is having an excess amount of adipose tissue. Adipose tissue also known as fatty tissue is a connective tissue that consists of mainly fat cells. The adipose tissue secretes a number of products, such as metabolites, and lipids. Excess amounts of these products can lead to insulin resistance, which can later on lead to type 2 diabetes. However, this is not the main concern; obesity is a disease that not only affects the adult population but the child population as well. Around 17 percent of children are considered obese putting them at high risk for a range of health problems. The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has astonishingly tripped since the 1970s. About 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 and 19 has obesity. Obesity is identified by BMI (body mass index).

BMI is often used as a screening tool for measuring overweight and obesity. BMI percentile is usually measured when it comes to children and young adults. Children with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and less than the 95th percentile are considered overweight. Children with a percentile higher than 95 are considered obese. Childhood obesity in most cases is due to overeating and under-exercising. However, there are many more factors that come into play to increase the risk of having obesity. One of the many reasons is closely related to a child’s diet. Unhealthy food options and regular consumption of high-calorie foods, like fast food, and baked goods can cause weight gain, which eventually leads to obesity. Short sleep duration, eating and physical activity behaviors, community and neighborhood, and metabolism are all causes of obesity.

Obesity has become a problem at such an early age for children. It’s an important public health priority that needs to be addressed because many people are taking this very lightly and saying “It’s okay children don’t know any better”, but these people don’t realize by saying this, they’re only making matters worse and letting children make a habit of eating foods that cause obesity. It has become so easy now for parents to just buy their children ready-made food and pack it for lunch, it’s so easy now for parents to just give their children lunch money and say “You can buy something for yourself at school”. Children are buying chips and sodas and having them for lunch. Parents are somewhere running away from their responsibilities or are either too busy to cook for their children. Therefore kids are adapting and getting used to these junk foods and it’s become very addicting. Once a child has started it becomes very hard for them to stop. If we go around asking children from ages 6-19 what they like to eat the majority of these children will say chips, sodas, candies, and other junk food they are so used to eating. Since there is a fast food restaurant at most corners of any block it has become very accessible.

Due to this fact, parents often become lazy and decide to buy their children food from restaurants like McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, or Wendy’s. Another thing with fast food is that it is cheaper compared to other restaurants. The second of the many reasons is the lack of physical activity, ever since computers, and television have come into our lives children consider to stay inside instead of taking part in outdoor physical activity. Physical activity was seen as a form of entertainment for some people. However, with the world making technological advances day by day, they are slowly taking over children’s lives. A computer or television becomes a child’s entertainment. The environment that a child is around contributes to obesity. If a child is around bags of chips, pizza, and candy bars, the child will most likely indulge in these foods instead of fruits and vegetables. The third reason is genetics, If a child is born into a family of overweight people, he or she is most likely already predisposed to obesity. In addition, of course, medical conditions have an effect on a child’s weight. Not common but there are genetic diseases and hormonal diseases that can predispose child obesity. This includes hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland does not release enough hormones to control metabolism. With all of these, there come many results with childhood obesity. Children with obesity are at higher risk of health conditions that deeply affect physical health.

Children who are obese often suffer asthma, sleep apnea, severe joint problems because they have a great amount of weight to carry around, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. There are emotional consequences that occur with being obese. Children who are obese are often bullied and teased for their disorder. In the end, childhood obesity leads to obesity in adulthood. Which directly correlates with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and different types of cancer. Childhood obesity also varies among ethnicities. The prevalence of obesity is higher among Hispanics at a rate of 21.9 percent compared to blacks and whites (19.5% and 14.7%). Treatment of childhood obesity directly correlates with adulthood obesity itself. A healthy approach to eating can turn things around for a child who is obese, when grocery shopping choosing fruits and vegetables can be a smarter alternative as compared to convenience food.

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Limiting sweetened beverages and fast food consumption plays a positive role in weight loss. In addition, a critical part of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, especially for children is more physical activities. Finding activities of a child’s interest and limiting computer time emphasizes physical activity. There are also medications that can be prescribed to some adolescents as part of a weight loss plan. However, going down this path of medications is questionable due to the long-term effects of medication which are still unknown. But as we all know medications of any sort will have side effects and shouldn’t be a first step or first option to early childhood obesity. If all things fail, then weight loss surgery may be the way to go. Weight loss surgery is not a miracle cure as many may imagine it being, because it does not guarantee weight loss for a long period of time. Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has become a major healthcare concern because of strong evidence that it can and in fact, does increase the risk of obesity. From 2009 to 2010 the average child in the United States consumed about 155 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages in just one day. About 42 percent of children drank soda in just one week. Since there was a dramatic increase in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, something had to be done as quickly as possible.

Due to the success that was seen from tobacco taxation public health, experts had then concluded that there should be an excise tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce overall consumption of these sweetened beverages. Most states in the United States have sales tax on their beverages but that has no impact on consumers buying it whatsoever. Excise tax has a greater shelf price so consumers think twice before buying the product. From 2013 to 2014, many states had pushed for a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. However, one of the strongest efforts came from Berkeley, California in November of 2014 they had become the first and only US jurisdiction to pass a sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax for public health purposes. They charged a $0.01 per ounce tax on all of the sugar-sweetened beverages which included soda, energy drinks, fruit-flavored water, coffee, and tea. On a community level, to prevent childhood obesity parents of the community can get together and hold a town meeting that shines a light on the complications of childhood obesity.

Parents can address the changes they would want to see in their child’s school. One major change that needs to be made in schools is the type of snacks that are being offered in vending machines for children. If parents can come together and make this change happen it can have an overall positive effect and can definitely show a decrease in childhood obesity. Because when children are hungry they sometimes don’t care about what is being given and eat anything which is being offered to them. Learning starts from school, just like children learn different subjects such as math, reading, and writing these children will start eating healthy if the school is also teaching them and giving them healthy food alternatives compared to the junk food being given today in schools. Changing up the snacks in vending machines, instead of chips these vending machines can include packets of sliced apples, bananas, granola bars, orange juice, apple juice, flavored yogurts, packets with mixed fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, instant oatmeals, and dried fruits. We can monitor the effectiveness of these healthy snacks and ensure that the children are eating them along with buying them by placing a designated worker who will monitor and also help the kids with the vending machine.

The children are bound to eat whatever is offered in the vending machines. Just like those children who usually do not eat junk food but are hungry and see a vending machine that offers junk food and end up eating it, just like that we plan on having the same idea. Children who eat junk food on a regular will start eating healthy snacks when they’re hungry and have no other option available for them. In addition, obesity is associated with higher healthcare costs. A total of 14.1 billion dollars is the total of additional prescription drugs, emergency room, and outpatient visits costs annually. Also, a child who is obese and continues to gain weight has a medical cost that is 19,000 dollars higher compared to a normal-weight child. As seen, obesity not only has an effect on the physical aspect of a being but financially as well. Any positive movement towards preventing obesity is very beneficial. America’s economy is not at its best right now and most individuals try to do their best to save money. This taxation can help prevent obesity and save people a lot of money. However, another step that can be taken is to start awareness campaigns. The more people become aware of the results of obesity, the more precautions they are most likely to take. As much as technology has a positive effect, it has a negative effect as well. Computers and televisions cause children to become inactive. Limiting computer and television time can also put an end to obesity.

Childhood obesity is a serious epidemic in the United States, with obesity comes physical effects, psychological effects, and long-term effects. Childhood obesity can lead to obesity in adulthood, which predisposes an individual to many healthcare problems. The problems include diabetes, adulthood obesity, heart disease, and deterioration of bone structure. Getting childhood obesity under control can be beneficial for future generations and for this generation as well. I hope this health issue is resolved as soon as possible for anyone going through childhood obesity is a major risk. Therefore, If everyone as a community can do their part we can prevent obesity in children, we can prevent children at a young age so they don’t end up adapting to these junk foods at such an early age by changing the snacks in the vending machines. Although this may seem like such a small thing to do, it is actually a major cause of obesity just like we are working on preventing children from smoking in schools, our local communities, and in school youth organizations. A similar approach is needed for preventing childhood obesity, schools need to stop selling and filling up their vending machines with only junk food and have healthy alternatives. They also need to increase the amount of physical activity being performed in schools, instead of having a gym once a week they should make it mandatory to have a gym every day for at least 30 minutes.

Obesity in children at such a young age is a huge and alarming public health problem, which needs to be stopped. Many other countries have smaller serving sizes in restaurants and fast food restaurants but in the United States, we have the largest serving sizes which needs to stop. Restaurant owners and fast food restaurants need to stop advertising new deals each and every day. For them it’s business but for people, it’s their life. They advertise new drinks every other day, buy one get one free offer, and free refills, why do we need refills? Why do we need bigger serving sizes for sodas for just a few pennies more? This needs to be addressed and should be stopped as quickly as possible. People look at these advertisements and fall for them. If we can stop obesity in young ages ranging from 6-19 and if we can help children adapt to a healthier lifestyle starting at a young age we can stop obesity overall and decrease the numbers of people who have obesity of all ages in the United States.

#heathcare #medical #medicalcare #pharmaceuticals #healthcareprofessional #nurses #healthprofessionals

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