By: Candace Hutchins
Obesity is a growing problem in the United States with sharp increases in fast food consumption, television watching, and lack of physical activity. With approximately 32.8% of adults in the United States ages 20-74 meeting the criteria for obesity, it has truly become a National concern (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). Obesity is related to serious health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. In order to prevent problems, healthy diet and physical exercise are the fundament steps for controlling weight.
The best way to promote a healthy lifestyle is to instill good habits early in a child’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007), the prevalence of childhood (or pediatric) overweight has risen dramatically in the past 30 years. It is important to instill healthy habits early or control an existing weight problem because overweight children are at high-risk to being obese as adults.
Children are malleable and establishing healthy habits early can reduce a wealth of problems. Additionally, childhood overweight puts a child at-risk for developing a serious illness during childhood.
It is also important to understand the factors that contribute to childhood overweight. While genetics play a role, environmental factors at home, at school, at play, and behaviors such as eating habits, amount of physical activity, and levels of sedentary behaviors all contribute to development and treatment of childhood overweight.
In the United States obesity problems must be examined across all subcultures in order to target immigrants that may not have the lingual skills or means to gain access to appropriate healthcare or other resources. While these populations have access to fast food and the consumerism in the United States, they do not tend to have opportunities for education on childhood overweight or medical interventions. Recent studies provide evidence that these populations would benefit from an educational programs that include family-based physical activities and ways to eat healthy.
Researchers have also examined the way parenting styles, reduction of sedentary behavior, and household factors influence children’s eating habits and physical activity. Overall, encouraging healthy diet and physical activity in children is a crucial method for preventing overweight children and obese adults.