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Isabelle Brosseau

English 200
Professor Zwicky
December 4, 2015
The Growing Epidemic
According to the documentary Super Size Me, America has become the
most obese nation in the world. As of 2004, there are over 100 million
Americans that are classified as either overweight or obese. A portion of the
100 million overweight Americans are children. Childhood obesity is a rising
epidemic that has recently brought about health concerns in society. Poor
nutrition and lack of exercise leads to child obesity resulting in many
negative effects. Though it could be difficult, there are avenues to prevent
childhood obesity from expanding. Super Size Me also exposes that from
1984 to 2004, the number of obese children doubled. Fast-food corporations
seem to be encouraging children to consume regular amounts of unhealthy
foods by giving away toys with the purchase of a kids meal. It is ironic that
in todays world, being fat is frowned upon. In the past, being fat signified
beauty and wealth. The more obese a person, it was suggested that they
possessed increased riches to purchase and consume food (Renzaho,2).
Thought it was once considered beautiful, todays society views it as a health concern.
There is not one specific thing in particular that leads to child obesity,
but there are a few definite variables that are linked to the cause of weight
gain in children. The main cause of child obesity is the intake of fatty foods.

Fat is the result when unhealthy foods are consumed without burning off the
excess energy. Lack of financial resources could also lead to childhood
obesity. Healthy food choices such as fruits, vegetables, and grains
(including organics) that are sold in supermarkets tend to be more expensive
than fattier, unhealthy food options. Fast food has become immensely
cheaper and much more accessible than healthier, sit-down restaurant
options. The decreased amount of physical exercise a person gets is also a
contributing factor to the number of obese people in the nation. The
documentary Supersize Me states that more than 60% of Americans do not
receive any form of exercise. The increased usage of technology has
contributed to this increased lack of daily movement within the United
States. Televisions, video games, and computers have replaced the
importance of physical exercise in the eyes of children. (Find Source for this
info) One in four American Children spend four hours or more each day
watching television (Lox, 205). This is time that could be spent
participating in outdoor activities such as riding a bike, rollerblading, or
playing sports. The amount of time spent watching television, using the
computer or playing videogames should be fewer than 2 hours each day. The
final contributor to child obesity is genetics. Genetic factors contribute
significantly to the etiology of obesity, with estimates of the heritability of
BMI ranging from 30 to 70% (Herbert, 4-9). The BMI, which stands for
Body Mass Index is used to determine if one is within a healthy weight for
their height. It helps determine if one is at risk of any health problems

related to a persons weight. Also, when a child is raised by parents who are
obese, they are raised to believe that being overweight the norm in society.
According to the book The Psychology of Exercise by Curt L. Lox, Kathleen A.
Martin Ginis, and Steven J. Petruzzello , as people get older, they generally
decrease their physical activity. Because a persons nutrition and their
physical activity are the two contributors affecting ones weight and healthy
wellbeing, this becomes an issue. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that physical inactivity, along
with poor diet, is responsible for at least 16% of all death, a number second
only to those deaths caused by smoking. The report also states that only
27% of students in grades 9-12 engage in sufficient levels of moderate
intensity physical activity.
Metabolism also has a major impact on ones weight. Metabolism
affects the speed of how fast one burns off energy. For example, if two
people consume the same exact meal and had the same amount of physical
activity, the person with the faster metabolism will have an easier time
breaking down and burning off the energy. Unfortunately, metabolism slows
down with age, which means that as one ages, it becomes more difficult to
avoid increased weight. This fact emphasizes the importance of developing
healthy eating habits at a young age to establish a healthy lifestyle into
adulthood (Lox, 206). Whether it is poor food choices, inactivity, or
decreased metabolic rates, the end results can lead to obesity.

There are many effects on ones body from being obese. Those effects
might not be immediate, but would definitely have a negative impact on
ones life in the future. Obesity can lead to sleep apnea, dyslipidemia,
gallbladder disease, various types of cancer, or cardiovascular disease
(Super Size Me). The most common outcome from child obesity is diabetes
mellitus commonly known as type two diabetes. If one is obese as a child
ones chances of being overweight or obese as an adult significantly
increase. Unhealthy eating creates bad nutrition habits that can trail into
adulthood and be difficult to quit. In addition, being a healthy weight in
childhood does not necessarily mean that one is guaranteed to be a healthy
weight as an adult. It is quite common for people who had a healthy body
weight as a child, to become overweight or obese as an adult. The number
of children who are above the healthy weight percentile is too high. Nearly
one in three of our children are overweight or obese, at risk for illness like
diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that cost our economy billions of dollars
each year. (Michelle Obama,1). If action is not taken to reduce child
obesity, it will continue to increase at a positive slope. In fact, according to
Michael L. Alosco and John Gunstad, it is estimated that obesity rates will
exceed 44% within every state over the next 20 years. They also state that
this economic hardship is predicted to account for up to 18% of total
healthcare costs by the year 2030. That is money that could be spent on
healthcare programs that are more beneficial, life Medicare or Medicaid.
Another problem that child obesity can cause is an increased level of stress

and anxiety. Erol Ozmen and some colleagues did an experiment to test to
emotional outcomes that child obesity had on children. The study explains
how it is more common for adolescents, who are overweight, to have bad self
esteems and experience increased stress, depression, and anxiety.
Overweight children could lose interest in the activities in their life and start
to have a negative outlook on life. The anxiety could cause adolescents to
have trouble learning and cause a decline in academic performance.

In

order to minimize that number of overweight children in the nation,


preventative measures need to be taken.
Child obesity is a major problem in our nation that cannot be taken
lightly. In order to eliminate this dilemma, people have to take initiative and
stop child obesity at the source of the problem. One of the main activists
promoting healthy eating is our nations current First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Over the last couple of years, she has been enforcing healthy eating habits
educating children at a young age. For example, Michelle Obama launched
the nationwide initiative to put an end to childhood obesity called Lets
Move. According to the First Lady, major American food companies have
cut 1.5 trillion calories from their products and are expanding stores to sell
fresh food in 1,500 communities. Michelle Obama has also taken action in
the public schools throughout the Unites States. Athletes and celebrities
from Drew Brees to Michelle Kwan to Beyonc are serving as role models,
encouraging our kids to get active. Teachers, administrators, and other
education leaders in particular have been taking action as well, rethinking

the food you serve in lunchrooms, developing nutrition education curricula


for your classrooms, and coming up with creative ways to help kids be active
during the school day (Michelle Obama, 1). Michelle Obama hopes that
children will want to become more active like their favorite celebrities after
hearing how they have fun exercising. Exercising can be made a fun activity
by simply playing catch in the yard, or going on a nature hike with the family.
Children need positive role models in their lives to lead them down a healthy
path in life. The easiest prevention of child obesity is reducing the calorie
intake. Along with the reduction of calorie consumption, it is important to
avoid using foods as punishment or rewards. This type of system could
result in children viewing healthier food options (fruits or vegetables) in a
negative light, and therefore make their own decisions to eat unhealthier
food (candy, ice cream, or cake). It is important that children are able to
make the healthy decision on their own.
In summary, being overweight was once considered a good thing, but
in our current society, childhood obesity is a growing concern that cannot be
ignored. Obesitys main contributors are a childs diet, the amount of
exercise, and genetics. With the growing amount of technology, it is a
stretch to eliminate child obesity completely, but taking action to minimize
the issue one step at a time, the United States would be a better place in
which to thrive. By eating a balanced meal and exercising daily, a child can
drastically reduce their risk of becoming obese. These simple steps are
necessary to prevent child obesity and if avoided, obesity percentages will

increase and continue to endanger the health of children in the United


States.

Works Cited
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B., Colditz, Graham, Hinney, Anke, Hebebrand, Johannes, Koberwitz, Kerstin,


Zhu, Xiaofeng, Cooper, Richard, Ardlie, Kristin, Lyon, Helen, Hirschhorn, Joel N.,
Laird, Nan M., Lenburg, Marc E., Lange, Christoph, and Christman, Michael F.
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