Patient T is a newborn weighing 10 pounds, and 4 ounces, and looks like a healthy, strong, and big new baby boy; during his childhood, he maintains normal weight, and lives an active life with a great appetite for food that includes: apples, pears, bananas, ham sandwiches, chips, and pizza. When entering kindergarten, he’s considered as hefty, which leads to him being shy, and antisocial. When he gets home, all he does is: watch TV, play video games, and snack on foods, and drinks consisting of: chips, and 8 cans of soda a day. When he enters high school, he starts playing football with performance’s worthy of entering a Division 1 college. As a result of playing football, he begins to live an active social life, and is 6 feet 5 inches tall weighing 315 pounds, and enjoying the college football life (“Childhood Obesity: Impact on Health Care” par.1-2-3).
In 2005, there was a discovery with, “…the ever-increasing childhood obesity problem, more and more kids, besides physically, are suffering emotionally,” writes, researcher Joanne Williams, PhD, with the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia (par.4). The meaning behind physically suffering from obesity is mainly: the child’s weight, and health. On the other hand, emotionally means: the child’s self-esteem, confidence, and social skills are underdeveloped due to the insecurity of the child’s weight during their critical, and sensitive periods during childhood. Obesity is a serious medical condition commonly seen in adults, but is also affecting the youth too; it’s called, “childhood obesity: a serious medical condition that affects children, and adolescents that occurs when a child is well above the normal weight, and BMI for his or her age, and height” (par.1). A normal person would have a BMI of 20% or lower.
Body mass index (BMI) is the amount of fat somebody has on his or her body. To be considered obese, the BMI has to be well above 30% (“Childhood Obesity” par.1-4). Since children don’t know better about diets, parents are becoming more aware of what their children are eating; and the rates, “In August, 2013 showed that 18 states, including Florida, have experienced a decline in obesity rates among 2-12 year olds; over that period, Florida’s rate fell from 14.1% to 13.1%, a statistically significant decrease according to the CDC analysis” (“Childhood Obesity in Florida” par.3). Obesity is declining due to the fact that parents are becoming more aware of what their children are eating.
Children don’t know that too little exercise, and unhealthy eating causes them to gain weight, and to possibly become obese, so they eat massive portions of food with little to no exercise without noticing the harm that they’re doing to their body; however, just because children have different body frames with a lot or little mass, doesn’t mean one can’t take into consideration that the child might become obese; signs of becoming obese include: extreme weight gain, sluggish behavior, becoming tired faster, and limited social interaction. Junk food may seem to taste amazing, but for a child’s health, it’s not as amazing as it seems; lack of exercise, and poor eating habits results in many risk factors, which most commonly leads to obesity. During childhood, it’s all fun, and games with no worries in the world; children may eat whatever they want, but of course, in moderation, and with exercise because if they eat too much junk food with little to no physical activity, obesity may sneak up silently.
Parents should consider teaching their children to have a healthy eating life style at an early age because, “too little activity, and too many calories from food, and drinks — remain a significant contributor to childhood obesity” (“Causes” par.2). All the basic things in life like: healthy eating, should be taught at a young age, so the child can grow up having good habits, and a healthy eating life style. While a child enjoys eating junk food, even after putting on extra weight, signs of obesity may sometimes not be seen immediately; obesity can literally sneak up on anybody; for example, “…finding it hard to breathe while being overweight is a silent, but deadly sign of becoming obese” (“Signs of Obesity” par. 3). If a child experiences shortness of breath while putting on extra pounds, or finding daily activities a struggle, most of the time, it could be an obvious sign of becoming obese, but it is possible that the child may be suffering from lung problems due to the fact of becoming obese.
Due to all this weight gain, most children, “…tend to not really interact with their peers due to lack of self-esteem” (“Social Interaction with Obese Children” par.8). When children start gaining weight, they usually get insecure around their friends because they see that they’re the only ones physically changing. Basically, when children aren’t aware of what could happen when they eat excessive amounts of junk food with no exercise, they start gaining weight fast with little to no warning, and when with friends, they feel out of place, since they’re bigger than most. Besides being aware of everything one’s child does, parents should be extra careful with their child’s food, and attentive to the amount of exercise the child gets because without health, the child has nothing. Children should be taught to do everything right at a young age, if not, the child won’t know what healthy food to eat, how much they need to exercise, and how their health will be affected if they don’t take care of themselves.
To diagnose a child that looks obese, the doctor has to measure the child’s body mass index (BMI), which determines if the child’s obese for their age, and height; then, the doctor calculates where their percentile falls on the BMI-for-age growth chart; for example, if the child’s BMI is in the 90th percentile, it means that compared with other children of the same sex, and age, 90 percent have a lower BMI, but the chart doesn’t take into consideration that obesity can also be inherited, and that every child has a different body type with varying growth patterns. When a parent doesn’t know whether their child is over weight or obese, the parent has to take the child to the doctor to get checked up to see where their percentile falls on the BMI-for-age growth chart. If the child is between the 85th-94th percentiles, the child is over weight. When the child falls on the 95th percentile or above, it’s clear that they’re obese because 95 percent of the children with the same age, and height have lower BMI’s.
Children have different body types than one another, however, the BMI doesn’t consider things like, “being muscular or having a larger than average body frame, so the doctor has to take the child’s growth, and development into consideration” (par.4). Some girls may have larger breasts than other girls, and some boys are taller, and have more mass than other boys, so the doctor has to respect that, and determine whether the child is actually obese, or if they just have a different body type than most children. Like diabetes, obesity is not only earned, it can also be, “inherited by their family’s history of obesity, and weight-related health problems” (“Childhood Obesity: Diagnosis” par.4-6). Families can have some type of inheritance, but it doesn’t mean that if a child has it that means it’s inherited; obesity is self-inflicted by not exercising, and over eating.
Obese children tend to be lazy, so instead of changing their intake of food, and the amount of exercise they do, they say that they’re, “fat because they’ve inherited it, but when one looks at their eating habits, and the amount of time they spend exercising, one can tell that they’re just plain lazy” (“Diagnosis and Effects of becoming Obese” par.2). When children get diagnosed as obese, they tend to blame it on the inheritance of their families, but they don’t take into consideration that their daily eating, and exercise habits are very poor. The BMI-for-age growth chart doesn’t lie, if a child is at the 95th percentile or above, which means 95% of children their age, and height have lower BMI’s, some changes need to happen. Those changes include: eating habits, and exercise habits; inheritance doesn’t count because the child can easily change the fact of not being obese by changing their daily habits. Immediate changes should be made if a child is diagnosed as obese, the child cannot wait to change their habits because the longer the child waits, the harder it is for them to lose the excessive weight.
Going back to Patient T, he’s in college playing football, and doing much better than before. Patient T is showing signs of weight loss, but is still over weight, and is much more social with his teammates, and class peers, but something significant happens in his sophomore year of college. When a person is over weight, many times while playing rough sports they suffer injuries; in this case, “In Patient T’s sophomore year of college, he hyperextends his knee by tearing his meniscus during the homecoming game” (par. 4). The meniscus is a very important cartilage in the knee that is under the patellar bone, “which helps the patella not to rub against the leg bones” (par.5). In addition to that, the meniscus is very sensitive.
Since Patient T is over weight, and was playing a rough game of football, he tore his meniscus. Due to that injury, which ended his football career resulting in him going back to his old pattern of his bad eating habit, “Patient T starts gaining all the weight back, but still remains focused on his studies, and now alcohol, and parties become an alternative to the hours previously spent conditioning in the weight room” (“Childhood Obesity: Impact on Health Care” par. 4-5-6). Years after, Patient T dies at the age of 42 with: blindness, on dialysis, and myocardial infarction. Years of obesity, and obesity-related complications that started in his childhood resulted in his premature death. Patient T wasn’t really looked out for by his parents, thus why he became like this. Habits start at a young age, which is why Patient T became obese because he wasn’t taught how to eat healthy when he was young.
Dying at the age of 42 because of obesity is something terrible; Patient T should’ve been taken care of when he was younger. Just like being over weight, one treatment for obese children is: eating healthy. The method to losing weight as an obese child: weight loss should be steady, and slow; anywhere from one to two pounds a week, and to five pounds a month would be ideal. When a parent buys groceries for their obese child, the parent should stay away from high calorie foods such as: cookies, chips, and prepared meals. The parent should also limit sweetened beverages like juice. It’s also recommended to have a family dinner, so the parents could watch, and control what the child’s eating because the child will want to rebel, and go back to eating junk food if they’re not being watched. Children like to sit down in front of the TV, and eat their food, so, “the parents should discourage eating in front of a screen such as: television, computer, and video games” (par.11).
When a child is sitting in front of a screen, it can lead to fast eating, and lowered awareness of how much they eat. McDonalds is usually the number one restaurant on a child’s mind, so it’s best, “to limit the number of times the child eats out, especially at fast-food restaurants” (par.12). The reason why one should limit their child of eating out is because most of the foods are high in calories, and in fat, and most plates are significantly oversized in the amount of food they give. The most effective part of losing weight is to, “serve healthy food in appropriate portion sizes” (“Treatments” par. 11-12-13). Children don’t need as much food as adults do, so the parent should allow the child to eat until he or she is full, even if that means that the child leaves food on their plate. When it comes to an obese child eating healthy, the parents should not buy high calorie foods or drinks; instead, the family should cook together, and have a healthy dinner while making sure that the child is eating appropriate portions, and most importantly, to bond as a family.
Exercise not only makes a child feel good, it also makes them lose weight, so exercise is essential, especially for the obese children. Sometimes, it’s not just the exercise the parents have to emphasize; it’s the activity too. The meaning of activity is: for the children to go to the park, play with friends, and play sports like: skate boarding, basketball, and soccer. Children will most likely like the idea of being taken to the park, and playing with their friends because, “children have more fun interacting with friends, and playing games rather than just plain exercise” (par.2). Taking children to the park to be social, and interactive with their friends is a great part of preventing a child from sitting at home, and doing nothing, but eating. Parents sometimes think that it’s the child’s fault for not being active, but truthfully, “if the parents want their child to be active, the parents have to be active as well” (par.4).
Activities may sound childish to some parents, but in reality, activities with the family will not only motivate the child to be active, it can also build a bond too. Doing the same thing all the time can get boring, as well as doing the same activities, so it’s, “important to vary the activities, and let the child take a turn choosing the activity of the day or week” (“Physical Activity for Obese Children” par. 2-4-7). In order to keep the physical activity going in the obese children, it’s essential to keep changing the activities every week, so the child doesn’t get bored, and quit. It might be hard at first to get an obese child to start exercising, so the best way to convince them is to tell them that they’re going to the park with their friends, and they’ll naturally be active, and play games with their peers. If the child doesn’t really have friends, then it’s best to do family activities together, which will also get the family closer to each other.
Boredom comes really quick in children, so activities should be varied every week with the child’s choice of what activity they would like to do. Preventing obesity can be easy, but hard at the same time, so it should be teamwork with the parents, and the child. The child can’t develop healthy eating habits, and exercising daily on their own; support, and help is an essential part in preventing a child from becoming obese. It’s also important for the child to be around a good environment because, “past research has identified social, and environmental causes, and correlations of behaviors are thought to be associated with obesity, and weight gain among children, and adolescents” (par.1). If a child is surrounded by bad influences, and is under a lot of stress, the child will most likely look for food to seek an escape from all the stress that they’re going through.
Obesity is not only caused by over eating because one like’s a lot of food, but also because, “food can make one feel better without noticing, so while the person is eating, the brain lets out a euphoria, which makes the person feel better, and makes one want to eat more” (par.10). When something makes a child feel good, the child will want more of it; so in the case of food, when a child is eating, the brain is getting stimulated, and a euphoria is let out to make the child feel better. Since the euphoria of eating makes a child feel better, and obesity is trying to be prevented, the child must, “eat healthy food in moderate portions because that euphoria is let out when eating any type of food, so it’s convenient to stick with healthy foods” (“Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents” par.1-10-12). Eating healthy is the key of staying in shape, so if the child doesn’t want to gain weight, or possibly become obese because they find that food makes them feel better, the euphoria will still come out even when eating healthy. Anything that involves good habits with children should start at an early age, or else the child will learn, and develop their own habit, which isn’t always the right habit.
Teaching a child to have good habits at an early age is one of the best things a parent can do. A good environment is important for children because if the child has a lot of stress, the child will most likely eat their hearts out to get rid of all that stress. Any euphoria that makes a child feel better will be wanted more, so if a child wants to feel better by eating food, the child might as well eat healthy to save them the trouble of gaining weight. Patient T wasn’t really looked out for by his parents when he was gaining weight. With that being said, not being looked out for by his parents led him in living his own life with a bad habit of unhealthy eating that was never fixed, which resulted in his early death. Parents should look out for their children, make sure to keep them active, and feed them the right food. It’s crucial for the child to develop the right habits at an early age, so it goes on while they grow up. If a child looks obese, the parents shouldn’t diagnose the child themselves.
The parents should take their child to the doctor, observe where their child falls on the BMI-for-age growth chart, and let the doctor determine whether their child is obese or not. When Patient T tore his meniscus during the homecoming game, it ended his football career. Since he couldn’t play, he dedicated more time for school, but also fell into the party, and drinking scene, and went back to his old habits of eating massive portions of junk food; years later, he dies at the age of 42 due to all the consequences of being obese. One important treatment for an obese child is: to change their high-in-calorie diet to a much healthier diet. Another treatment for an obese child is: to change up the child’s daily routine, and add exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. With all the information gathered here, it’s obvious that one now knows how to prevent a child from becoming obese; the child has to eat healthy, and exercise in order to stay in shape. If a child is on their way to becoming obese, and won’t change their habit of eating junk food to healthy food, and won’t exercise, please go to: www.healthykidshealthyfuture.org
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