My week has been absolutely crazy! Decided to write for a few more vegan food companies, so I’ve been almost frantically writing this whole week… This is actually the 5th article I’ve written in the past 6 days :p. I also had my first midterm on Thursday; hopefully I did as well as I think I did. Two more next week and then it’s reading week for me! I also managed to get home for the weekend, down south in Ontario, before the worst of the snow came. I got home Thursday night and was happy to hear that Friday was a snow day anyway. Good to be home with my family! I feel a bit guilty about this, but due to my current craziness I`m starting to feel a wee bit overwhelmed. As a result, I`ll have to cut my posts down to just one this week and I`ll try my best to have two for you guys next week! Thanks for your patience .
Here`s a picture taken of me by my friend Dan
The rates of childhood obesity, a major prediction for future health problems including adult obesity, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems and many psychological disorders, is on the rise. We’re getting heavier as a nation. In 2007, about 10% of toddlers, under the age of two, were considered obese. An estimated twenty-two million children under the age of 5 were overweight and among school aged children, reportedly about 23% of boys and 21% of girls were overweight.Is our obesity epidemic due to improved living conditions? Less disease? Or maybe better food? This article will discuss the sad truth of the current world wide catastrophe that is childhood obesity.
There has been a dramatic rise in childhood obesity since the 1990s. Why is this trend happening? The answer is not a simple one and is shaped by a number of different factors. Food consumption and lack of exercise are huge, but other factors are also present, including genetics, prenatal conditions and culture.In obese children, their risks for growing into an obese adult are nearly 90%! Girls will be at a higher risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which is characterized by irregular periods. Children will be at an increased risk of both hyperandrogenism (often seen in the form of acne), early onset insulin resistance, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hypertension, etc. These children will likely have lower self esteem and higher rates of depression, which is enhanced by peer teasing. Eating disorder risks will also increase, especially in children who’ve made many attempts to lose weight. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in developed countries that must be adequately addressed.
Weight control is regulated as early as fetal life in utero. Factors such as the mothers health and weight, as well as her nutrition throughout and after pregnancy contribute to the metabolic status of the baby. About 20% of women are obese prior to pregnancy, which results in an increased risk for fetal growth abnormalities, complications and fetal death. In both rodent and clinical studies, pregnancy and early life environments significantly contribute to later weight related outcomes for the offspring. Specifically, infants who are born to mothers with diabetes during pregnancy are at a higher risk of being born with impaired glucose tolerance or growing up to be diabetic or obese. Considering the prevalence in obesity, maternal obesity may be contributing to a vicious cycle. Good health and nutrition during pregnancy are vital for a healthy child.
After utero, calorie intake in early years will predisposition children to different BMIs and glucose control. Breast feeding is considered protective and a potential weight regulator but unfortunately, on a global scale, only about 34.6% of infants up to 6 months are exclusively breast fed. Early introductions of food also put children at an increased risk for becoming overweight. Infants are often fed more, particularly sweet foods (which have a calming effect), in order to soothe; this results in an increased prevalence of emotional eating and lack of portion control in later years.Children with higher fruit and vegetable availability and consumption are more likely to have healthy weights. Unfortunately, according to survey data in 2008, about 37% of infants 6-9 months and 28% of 9-12 months old didn’t even have one serving on a given day. Our internal regulations for portion and sugar control can be easily overcome by, usually well-meaning, feeding practices. Furthermore, due to a hellish economy, many of us can’t even afford healthy foods. Less energy and more nutrient dense foods are more expensive than energy dense, unhealthy foods. Obviously, when funds are short, unhealthy foods are the logical choice because you can’t survive on just (low-calorie) carrots.
Environmental factors also play a role in childhood obesity. These factors include home, community and school environments. At home, parenting is important; home stress, negativity, and family eating habits are crucial for the development of given eating and lifestyle habits. Kids learn from the examples that their parents set for them. Is it okay to sit around all day? Is it okay to pound back a tub of ice cream? Early responsiveness to both hunger and satiety cues are important to prevent future over-eating habits. Since school-aged children spend the bulk of their time in school; nutrition education and activity are also important components of our education that influence childhood weight regulations.
How do we resolve this disaster? Better education that starts before conception! Mothers need to understand the influence of their health, weight and sugar consumption on their baby. Mothers need to understand what healthy even entails to, which is hard to gather in this day and age I know. Parents need to understand the influence of giving children food, especially sweet foods, to cope with emotions or as a reward. When a child enters school, they should be more adequately taught about the importance of nutrition and exercise.Healthy foods need to be more accessible to both parents and children; both in schools and grocery stores. Our school systems and governments are failing us. Hell, even our doctors, the people that many of us trust with our lives, are failing us. And whats worse? It’s at the cost of the children that we love the most. The obesity epidemic is a perpetuating cycle that should and CAN be stopped!
And that marks the end of my post, hopefully I’ve painted a pretty clear picture of the implications of childhood obesity. Got a comment about this problem? Post a comment and let me know what you think!
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