During the years 1980-2008, obesity in 6-11 years old has nearly tripled in the US from a 6.5% to 19.6%. The NSCH estimated that 17% of the teenagers and children included in the US are obese (the criteria being BMI equal or above 95 percentile). Obesity has seen a record high regardless of sex, age, ethnicity or socioeconomic groups.
Childhood obesity is especially prevalent in the southeastern states including Mississippi where 44.5% are considered overweight and 21.9% children are considered obese. The western states have a lower percentage. The likelihood of increase in obesity has been correlated with lower income in the household, lesser access to sidewalks or parks, increased television and computer time. Hispanics and black children are found to be obese more than white.
Obesity is a nationwide phenomenon that needs to be solved. This epidemic is the single cause of various diseases and ailments. From an economic point of view, increasing obesity will mean less productive citizens and more costs in the form of health benefits and social security.
A well rounded solution to obesity is education and limited screen time. Home economics provides education and knowledge regarding nutrition in foodstuff but it is also a course that is always the first to be cut. Lack of proper nutrition knowledge means parents and children by proxy make uninformed choices. A child is by and large going to eat what is given to him/her by his/her parents, which in this day and age means fast food. This is due to a trend of shifting from home cooked meals to processed fast foods. Parent these days don’t understand the nutritional value of vegetables and fruits, and the importance of a well-balanced meal.Screen time in front of the computer and television is also found to be positively correlated with obesity. Intake of food with a limited activity level is a major cause of weight gain. As such parents should be cautioned against increased time in front of videogames, computers or television and should encourage them to take up physical activity instead.
Studies have shown negative correlation between education and obesity i.e. educating the children and the parents seems to be a factor in controlling obesity. Parents should be provided with proper education through appropriate channels, while children should be educated in their schools or clubs etc.
Childhood obesity is a major contributing factor in coronary diseases, diabetes etc. Controlling obesity is not just in the interest of the individual but also in the interest of the nation as a whole as a healthy child will amount to a productive future worker that can contribute positively to the society and the nation.