Child obesity has become a great problem in the United States in recent years as the number of obese children has radically grown. It is a serious medical condition depending on the body-mass index that is still difficult to classify in children. Although there is an international standard, many states, such as the US, continue using specific charts. According to statistics, the obesity rate has doubled for youngsters aged 12 to 19 and multiplied by more than three for children aged 6 to 11 in the last thirty years in the US. Approximately, over 35% of children and adolescents were overweight in 2012. Being the fastest growing health crisis in the US, childhood obesity calls for immediate strategies taken to reduce it and protect the health of present and future generations.
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Childhood obesity may have fast health effects that result in health problems in later life. An overweight youngster usually experiences a huge influence on emotional, mental, and physical health together with social growth. Studies demonstrate that child obesity increases the risk of chronic conditions, including sleep apnea, bone problems, asthma, abnormal glucose tolerance, high cholesterol, hypertension, and even some cancer types. Being the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome among teenagers is another vital issue of health concern. In a sample of 5-to 18-year-old children, about 60% have at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor. Furthermore, overweight children are expected to face weight-related complications in adulthood.
Some childhood obesity implications are psychosocial. Frequently, the overweight child is a target of social discernment. Such psychological stresses lead to poor self-confidence that can delay social and learning functioning in childhood as well as adult life. Moreover, children with low self-respect tend to remove themselves from other people, feeling increased anxiety, unhappiness, aloneness, and depression. Young people can also be a subject of social discernment, being tormented and terrorized by others. It forms new emotional and social problems or deepen the existing ones. Children gaining weight are likely to be easily tired and less active while a less active child gains additional weight. Becoming a vicious cycle, obesity is primarily a psychosocial problem.
Obesity Prevention Strategies
For the majority of children, obesity is the result of insufficient physical activity and high-calorie unhealthy food. As these habits are set at an early age, obesity prevention efforts have to be put in at the same time. The implementation of fitness routine and healthy eating is a way to success. Caregivers and parents should stop child obesity by providing nutrition education, everyday physical activity, and healthy meal. Nutrition education gives a wide knowledge of healthy eating habits and good food. Improved physical activity helps manage weight and decrease risks for health. Healthy meal ensures nourishment for a growing organism and forms healthy eating conduct. Obesity prevention policy includes a number of strategies to be followed.
Organized Recreation and Physical Education
Organized physical activity in and out of school should be encouraged to increase the learning potential of a child. According to statistical data, students having physical exercises significantly improve their performance in the class. Looking at three student groups with dissimilar physical education, it is found that the group exercised the most got better grades on tests although they spent less time in the classroom than others. What is more, even about 20 minutes of exercise before studying decrease child fussiness fidgeting by 50% (Han et al., 2010). Therefore, it is wrong to consider pre/post school activities and physical education classes as inconsequential to the child’s education. In fact, physical activity is among the most contributory factors to the ability of learning.
Encouraging Children to Be Children
Influencing by the technological era, modern teenagers have an inactive way of life. For this reason, it is imperative to make children interested in playing recreational sports, riding a bike, or going for a walk with their friends. Even jumping rope, running bases, and other old-time games work on numerous skills, comprising strategic thinking, competitive nature, and agility. Children have a tendency to play longer and more regularly in the company of friends. Thus, it is a good method to make them moving.
The home is the first environment that establishes a basis for appropriate nutrition. Parents usually do grocery shopping together with children, and it is vital to make a useful and healthy choice. In general, social activities, recreational events, and schools do not provide a wide range of healthy meals. They are disposed to different snacks, yet every child can eat healthy food every day with correct planning. For example, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are available nutrients that can fill in snacks and make the difference for the child’s body. Hence, it is a responsibility of parents to feed children with a fresh and healthy meal.
Cardiovascular Training and Strength Training
Aerobic training and strength training burn calories as all types of physical activity do. However, these two types are of the utmost importance. Aerobic training produces a sustainable use of calories and recovers energy and health, both mental and physical. Strength training can reduce body fat and raise muscle mass, making the body more resilient and attractive. It is not necessarily for children to use a formal approach to training because they will be bored too soon. Consequently, trainings should be conducted in accordance with the abilities and interests of children, being fun and safe enough.
Leading Children by Example
Leading by example makes nutrition education provided by adults effective. Children study how to act when they follow the way their parents treat others. Asking a youngster to behave the way parents do not do tends to give poor results for both sides. To encourage children to move and take on a health direction, grown-ups should take the reins and set an example by eating healthy food and staying active. As a result, children will be educated about appropriate exercises and nutrition to make a reasonable choice when parents or caregivers are not near them.
Most of the overweight children finally become overweight or obese grown-ups, making the whole nation sick. Obese children suffer from a number of emotional, mental, and physical diseases. However, it is mainly defined as a psychosocial issue. Given the contemporary way of life, the child obesity problem may never be eliminated, yet efforts to help manage this epidemic should be made, using the mentioned recommendations. Nutrition education, regular physical activity, and healthy eating are the most effective strategies to prevent obesity. They should be combined with decreased sedentary activity, organized education and physical recreation, encouraging sports games, and cardiovascular training and strength training. Treatment and prevention approaches aimed at reducing intake and increasing energy costs have to be developed. This preventive policy is part of a healthy lifestyle that must be established at an early age by parents. Adhering to suggested strategies will decrease chronic disease risk factors and maintain a good mental and physical health.
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