The Nutrition of Childhood ObesityTo what extent should we work to combat childhood obesity in the United States? Introduction In a world of Big Macs and three layered Oreo-brownie-cookie cake, obesity rates have been prevalent like never before –especially among children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that for people aged 2-19 years, the prevalence of obesity is around 17 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents (CDC, 2017). Obesity is characterized as a body mass index (BMI) of about 30 or above.
BMI is calculated using a person’s height and weight and it varies on gender, bone mass, and age. Body mass indexes between 25 and 29.9 are considered to be overweight (Opposing Viewpoints, 2017).
With more time spent indoors on phones, playing video games, and watching TV, less time is devoted to running around outdoors. The opportunity for major weight-related problems are predominant. The World Health Organization (WHO) records that about 2.8 million people die each year from complications related to obesity, and if these current habits continue, half of US adults will be obese by 2030 (Opposing Viewpoints, 2017).
Knowing that low-income families tend to have higher rates of obesity may be due to the lower prices and easier accessibility to packaged and processed foods in convenience stores and supermarkets. It is important to consider what change is needed to create a healthier future for the next generations. Nutrition Perspective Children, with their developing minds and bodies, need to be fed proper nutrition. Often times, nutrition lacks as convenience becomes the priority. Many adults think children need a large quantity of food due to growth spurts, however, depending on their height and weight and activity level, this may or may not be true. Children need the same amount of calories as most adults, with specific macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, based on different age levels (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
The perspectives of Camila Corvalan, Alan D Dangour, and Ricardo Uauy, experts in the fields of nutrition and public health, rest up upon the idea that the “shift from predominantly plant-based low-energy-density diets and high levels of physical activity to increased consumption of energy-dense processed food (high in fat and sugars) and animal-food products, with increased levels of inactivity during work and leisure” has led to the prevalent obesity rates which is now reaching epidemic proportions globally (Corvalan, Dangour, Uauy, 2008). Agreeing with this degree of severity, David M. Eisenberg, MD, an executive vice president for health and research education for Samueli Institute in Virginia and an adjunct associate professor for Deparment of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, and Johnathan D. Burgess a student at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth state that they “now know that many people eat ‘mindlessly.’ That is to say that they are not sufficiently ‘present” or “mindful” to taste their food optimally, nor are they routinely mindful of the nutritional value (or lack thereof) and calories consumed.” Burgess and Eisenberg introduce the New York Times expose by Michael Moss, an investigative reporter and author of a book about the processed food industry, who goes into depth about the addictiveness of junk food. Eisenberg and Burgess explain that the expose “introduced the notion that food science engineers have systematically combined sugar, salt, fat, and “pleasing mouth feel” to design processed foods which increasingly appear to be biologically addictive.” Moss’s article hosts a claim made by Kelly Brownell, a distinguished obesity expert, who compares the food advertising industry to tobacco cigarettes by saying “As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies do the very same thing.
And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco (Moss, 2013). Brownell’s perspective justifies Corvalan, Danguour, and Uauy’s claim that the change from plant-based diets to high fat junk food diets, are contributing to the obesity epidemic. With the predominance of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes lurking around every corner, change is necessary. Fast Food PerspectiveWhile healthy holistic fast food options, such as Sweet green, Zoë’s kitchen, and even Chipotle, are revealing themselves in these past years, places like Burger king, Wendy’s, and McDonalds are still among the top choices for lower income families.
Public organizations and anti-obesity campaigns, due to the increasing amount of overweight children, caused scrutiny against the nutritional value of meals from these restaurants. A change was installed and Stephanie Strom, a New York Times journalist who has covered the food business, reports on McDonalds’ goal to create a healthier menu. With its toys to draw in children, “McDonald’s is putting the Happy Meal on a diet” (Strom, 2011). McDonalds now will cut the amount of French fries in half, add fruit, and “reduce calories in the meal package by 20 percent…” and the old happy meal with “530 calories and 23 grams of fat…” has turned into “435 calories and 17 grams of fat, according to the company…” (Strom, 2011). Strom who included a quote by Samantha Graff, a director of legal research at Public Health Law and Policy, commented “McDonalds has taken an extremely important step to help parents who want to please their kids while providing them with at least minimally nutritious food” (Strom, 2011). Although, Eisenberg and Burgess constitute that preparing one’s own food may call for lower rates of obesity. Both France and Italy, which have renowned culinary traditions, have far lower rates of obesity in their populations (Eisenberg and Burgess). “Nations in which citizens spent more time preparing food had lower rates of obesity,” stated by Burgess and Eisenberg, may be an all-around healthier alternative than choosing restaurant food even with its new changes.
Similarly, Christina G. Richards, a bariatric surgeon, notes the importance of parents and the role in helping children make healthier choices. She states “substituting made from scratch options for processed foods means that you know what is in the food and minimizes additives and surprises such as added sugar” (Richards).
Parents have the ability and authority to teach children what the best options are to fuel themselves. School Lunch Perspective Pizza Monday, pasta Tuesday, burger Friday, and an array of packaged rice crispy treats, cookies, and chips awaits school children every day during lunch, five times a week. At home, children may have cleaner diets due to parental supervision of what is served for breakfast and dinner, but at school the opportunity for sugary junk food and greasy entrees is unlimited. Shortie McKinney, director of Drexel University’s Nutrition Center, when asked if a bacon sandwich were to be included in child’s lunch replied “It wouldn’t be so bad to include something like that once in a while, just not as a regular thing”. It is important to consider the total meal and diet, and not worry so much about one single food (Marter, 1995).
In addition, a Stanford study by Psychologists Sarah Gripshover and Ellen Markman, “found that teaching children the importance of healthy foods and why their bodies need a variety of foods drives kids to voluntarily eat more vegetables” (Donald, 2013). In the study, Gripshover and Markman concluded that children are “naturally curious” and that “concept based educational materials could be combined with behaviorally focused nutrition interventions with the hope of boosting healthy eating more than either technique alone,” said the researchers. (Donald, 2013). Educating growing minds about the fuel needed for their bodies and what is needed to keep healthy to stay away from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, is vital in ensuring a healthier future. Implementing healthier school options and limiting the amount of sweets and junk food could enlist the joy of indulging, but making sure to keep children’s overall diets in check. Works Cited”Childhood Obesity Facts.
” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Apr. 2017, www.cdc.
gov/obesity/data/childhood.html Corvalan, C., Dangour, A. D., & Uauy, R. (2008). Need to address all forms of childhood malnutrition with a common agenda. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 93(5), 361.
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short Donald, Brooke. “Kids eat more vegetables after nutrition lessons, Stanford study finds.” Stanford University. July 03, 2013.
Accessed December 15, 2017. https://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/july/kids-healthy-eating-070313.html. Eisenberg, David M., and Jonathan D. Burgess.
“Nutrition Education in an Era of Global Obesity and Diabetes.” Academic Medicine 90, no. 7 (2015): 854-60. http://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/Fulltext/2015/07000/Nutrition_Education_in_an_Era_of_Global_Obesity.11.aspx Marter, Marilynn.
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com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html. “Obesity.” In Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context (accessed December 14, 2017).
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Accessed December 15, 2017. https://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/mcdonalds-alters-happy-meals-shrinks-fries/. “What nutrients does your child need now?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 June 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/nutrition-for-kids/art-20049335.
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