Rough Draft – Paper 1

September 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Childhood Obesity: How did it come about?


                In my junior year of high school, I was sitting in my health class staring off into space when my teacher told us that we were going to start a movie.  At that second I came back from cloud nine and was excited to watch a movie instead of listen to her lecture.  The movie she put in was called “Supersize Me”.  After the video was finished, I had a new outlook on obesity.  After watching that movie, I started asking questions about obesity; how did it start? Why has it been such a problem?  Then, I started thinking about how children could become obese and how this “epidemic” of childhood obesity came about.  Childhood obesity is defined as children who have an excess amount of fat.  More and more children are consuming more calories than they are burning off.  Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.  About 17% (12.5 million) of children and adolescents (between the ages of 2-19) are obese in America. The obesity rate among children between the ages of six and 11 has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008 and the rate among adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19 has increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.  These rates have increased by exactly 13.1% in 28 years!   These large increasing statistics have brought the attention of many individuals to realize that childhood obesity is a serious problem and that the numbers keep rising.  With these increasing numbers, we can’t help but ask why and what happened since the 1980’s that have caused this significant increase in childhood obesity rates.

                Since the late 1900’s, childhood obesity rates have dramatically increased and scientists, dieticians, and many other people can’t help but wonder why in that specific time period did rates start to increase. There are many causes of children who are obese.  One cause that some children cannot fix is that obesity is genetic.  Although obesity can be genetic, it is very rare that certain genes link obesityfrom the parents to their own children.  Only about one in 7,000 children can say that they are obese because of their genes.  Those few children who can say they are obese because of genetics are said to have a disorder, such as Bardet-Biedl or Prader-Willi syndrome.  Both of these disorders are caused by the variation or depletion of certain genes in certain chromosomes and one of the effects of these syndromes is obesity.  These syndromes are hereditary and will be passed on from generation to generation. 

Other than genetics, the question still arises about why childhood obesity has increased so much since the late 1900’s.  One answer to this question is because of the television.  TV became very popular in the 1960’s because more channels were created that contained news, sports, sitcoms, and much more.  Although TV’s became popular in the 1960’s, they were quite expensive during that era.  A decade or so later, TV’s became less expensive and more people started to buy them.  With almost everyone having TV’s in the 1980’s, more and more children became less active because all they wanted to do was sit and watch TV with their friends.  Less activity leads to fewer calories burned, which is turn could cause obesity among children.  Other technology devices such as computers, video games, Xbox’s, and cell phones all can contribute to the increase in obesity.  More children are becoming attached to computers, games on computers, all sorts of video games, and cell phones which leads to less activity every day.  Not only is a decrease in activity a huge part of childhood obesity, but the rise in high caloric foods is also a major attribution. Many fast food restaurants were booming in the 1980’s and have grown ever since.  In the late 1900’s, fast food restaurants were competing between each other (this was known as the “burger wars”) and they all started to increase their locations and lower the prices on their menus so more people would come to their restaurant, instead of going to other fast food restaurants.  Fast food restaurants also enlarged their portion sizes, so people would consume morecalories each meal.  In addition to the escalation of caloric intake, there are many other factors that contribute to the rise of obesity since the late 1900’s.

Culture and society have a large part in childhood obesity. Throughout the past 30 years, women have become a huge asset in the work force.  Nowadays, with most families having a working mother and father, there is limited time to prepare dinner for the family and it has become easier to just go out to eat or to go through a drive-through on the way home from work.  In other words, non-healthy foods are the easy way to feed a family.  Not only do some parents not have time to prepare meals, healthy food prices have gone up as the prices for non-healthy foods have gone down.  Some parents cannot afford to give their children the healthy foods and nutrients they need, which could result in the increase in weight, and possibly obesity.  Another cultural aspect of childhood obesity is schools and education.  Since the late 1900’s, more schools have focused mostly on academics instead of physical activity.  Schools have decreased their physical education and health classes and exchanged them for more reading or math classes.  Since the 1980’s, there have been many changes in society, some for the good and some the bad, and some of these changes have an influence on children and how they take care of their bodies.  As society continues to become more advanced, there will be a continuing number of children who are becoming obese.  After discussing many factors that have caused an increase in childhood obesity since the late 1900’s, we can’t help but ask where childhood obesity has been a problem in the United States.

Currently, out of the top 28 countries, the United States is first with the highest percentage of children who are obese.  The United States is followed by Mexico, and in third is the United Kingdom.  The Southeast portion of the United States has the highest childhood obesity rates ever seen and aresaid to be most likely to be obese, while those in the West are said to most likely be thin.  Back in 1985, most states did not have date for obesity rates in children, but those who did had small percentages.  About 13 states had obesity rates among children of less than 10% and only about eight states had rates between 10-14%.   In 1991, the lowest obesity rate for children were between 0-9.9% and were found in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Washington (all states in the West).  The highest rate in 1991 were between 15-19.9% and were only found in four states; Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Michigan.  Almost 15 years later, in 2006 obesity rates among children rose dramatically.  The lowest obesity rate was 15.19.9% only found in one state, Colorado.  The highest rate for obesity in children was above 30%, also only found in one state, Mississippi.  In 2007, about half of the Southeastern states had obesity rates for children above 30%. Currently, almost all the Southeastern states have rates about 30%.  Since the later 1900’s, each state has had dramatic increases in childhood obesity, some states more than others, and the rates will only keep increasing throughout the future.

                Childhood obesity rates have dramatically increased since the 1980’s.  Since then, there have been many factors that contribute to the rise in obesity in children.   Genetics, technology advances, and culture and society changes are just a few aspects that have pushed obesity rates in children to escalate.  Childhood obesity rates have increased by 13.1% in 28 years; imagine how high the rates will be in another 28 years.  Childhood obesity is very serious disease that everyone should be aware of.  Currently, this could be a problem for our family members or our future children and grandchildren.  Childhood obesity rates need to be slowed down or death rates among obese children will continue to increase.


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