The present paper discusses such a health problem as obesity among children from 2 to 12 years old. This population was selected because children are the nation’s future and, therefore, the government should be concerned with their health problems. Children with obesity commonly grow up in adults with the same problem and, hence, could become a burden for the government because in the neglected case, such people could become unable to work. This means that the government should pay them disability benefits. What is more, children of this age are highly dependent on their parents and little could they do to get rid of the excessive weight by themselves. Finally, it is easier to change the bad eating habits in childhood than alter the adults’ behavior.
As has been previously mentioned, the problem pertinent to the chosen population is obesity. According to the World Health Organization (n.d.), obesity is characterized by an “excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health” (para. 1). The body mass index (BMI) of people diagnosed with obesity should be higher than 30 points. A child is obese when his or her BMI is “greater than 2 standard deviations above the WHO Growth Reference median” (World Health Organization, n.d., para. 10). This means that a BMI of 20 is already dangerous for children’s health. Undoubtedly, children of 2 to 12 years old face other health problems. For instance, childhood health issues include asthma, autism, and genetic disorders, to name but a few. Still, in comparison with genetic disorders, obesity, at least, could be treated.
The significance of childhood obesity is exacerbated by the fact that it is prevalent among almost 14 percent of children from 2 to 5 years old and 18.4 percent of children aged 6 to 12 years (Hales et al., 2017). The research conducted by Hales et al. (2017) also reveals that every year the number of obese adults, adolescents, and children is steadily increasing. For instance, in 2013-2014, 17.2 percent of children and young adults were obese, and, in 2015-2016, this percentage was one time higher (Hales et al., 2017). The Obesity Action Coalition calls pediatric obesity an epidemic because of its large scale (Cochran, 2005). The primary cause of childhood obesity is a sedentary lifestyle, i.e., lack of physical activity. School-aged children spend most of a day sitting in a classroom. Even though children might be active during the physical education classes, it is not enough to get rid of extra weight. Besides, an unbalanced diet with a high amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates and fats contributes to the fact that children gain excess weight.
Childhood obesity is dangerous because it leads to high blood pressure and cholesterol, which causes cardiovascular diseases. In addition to that, obesity leads to insulin resistance and, hence, to the second type of diabetes. Besides, excessive weight increases the load on the joints and bones and might be a reason for breathing problems and insomnia. Extra weight also might be a reason for hormonal failure.
Obesity affects not only physical health but also mental one. The study of Small and Aplasca (2016) shows that children with obesity usually suffer from low self-esteem, body image disturbances, depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems. These children are also at risk of eating disorders (Small and Aplasca, 2016). Apart from this, obese children are more likely to miss school days and suffer from learning disabilities and developmental delays (Halfon et al., 2013). While talking about the impact of excessive weight on children’s mental health, it should be noted that adolescents with obesity more frequently have suicidal ideations than their peers with normal weight (Zeller et al., 2013). Even though the current paper discusses obesity among children, it is vitally important to mention that the older they are, the more psychological problems they will have.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) takes a proactive position in fighting childhood obesity. The ANA calls the continuously growing number of obese children an epidemic and argues that nurses should educate their young patients and their parents on the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle (Jones, 2010). Besides, the ANA supports a wide range of policy recommendations directed at minimizing obesity and curbing the growth of childhood obesity (Jones, 2010). These recommendations include the increase of “funding for school wellness programs” and the “creation of recreational facilities in underserved areas to provide increased opportunities for physical activity” (Jones, 2010, p. 2). Even though the cited statement was made ten years ago, the problem of obesity remains topical. Hence, the ANA keeps on working on the eradication of this health problem through education in the community and support of the related policies and programs.
The role of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) in dealing with obesity also could not be underestimated. The AANP offers a wide range of courses for people with obesity, where professionals train them on how to alter their lifestyle and eating habits. Another essential contribution of the AANP in the fight against obesity is the creation of the Obesity Specialty Practice Group (SPG). This group acts as a platform for collaboration with practitioners who investigate the issue of obesity. The participation in SPG guarantees that its members will “have access to the cutting-edge, online forum where you can engage in discussions, document sharing and knowledge exchange with fellow NPs” (American Association of Nurse Practitioners, n.d.). Nevertheless, compared with the ANA, the AANP does not emphasize any measures to deal precisely with childhood obesity. The AANP focuses on the obesity of people of all ages. The information placed on the website proves that the association is willing to help anyone diagnosed with this problem.
Finally, I would like to present my position statement on childhood obesity. I believe that it is vital to protect children from 2 to 12 years old from excessive weight because this problem hinders their well-being in the future. Besides, as it has been mentioned in the introductory paragraph, children themselves are unable to change their eating patterns. If their parents and teachers do not tell them how important it is to have an active lifestyle and stay fit, they would always suffer from excessive weight and complications. From this, it could be inferred that nurses should promote possible solutions to help children whose weight is too big to overcome this problem. Finally, I would like to emphasize that it is much easier to change a child’s psychological patterns and habits than one of an adult. In case of success, the entire nation will have more healthy citizens who do not suffer from cardiovascular and mental problems caused by extra weight or obesity.
Cochran, W. (2005). Understanding the Childhood Obesity Epidemic. Obesity Action Coalition.
Hales, C.M., Carroll, M.D., Fryar C.D., Ogden, C.L. (2017). Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief, (228), 1-8. Web.
Halfon, N., Larson, K., & Slusser, W. (2013). Associations between obesity and comorbid mental health, developmental, and physical health conditions in a nationally representative sample of US children aged 10 to 17. Academic pediatrics, 13(1), 6-13.
Jones, T. (2010). Fighting Childhood Obesity: Taking a stand to control an epidemic one child at a time. ANA issue brief information and analysis on topics affecting nurses, the profession and health care.
Obesity and overweight. (n.d.). World Health Organization.
Obesity and Weight Management. (n.d.). American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Obesity. (n.d.). World Health Organization.
Small, L., & Aplasca, A. (2016). Child obesity and mental health: a complex interaction. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics, 25(2), 269-282.
Zeller, M. H., Reiter‐Purtill, J., Jenkins, T. M., & Ratcliff, M. B. (2013). Adolescent suicidal behavior across the excess weight status spectrum. Obesity, 21(5), 1039-1045.