Childhood Obesity, Its Trends, Causes, Economics

Introduction

Obesity is currently one of the main health problems in the United States that affect a significant portion of the population. The problem has attracted the attention of scholars and health experts because of the burden it exerts on the health sector (Olson, 2017). Obesity-related sicknesses such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and some types of cancer are on the rise. In this paper, the researcher focuses on childhood obesity and its impact on the country’s economy.

The most current data on the rate of national childhood obesity is 18.5%. In 2015, the rate of childhood obesity was estimated to be 17.5% (Alston & Okrent, 2017). It means that childhood obesity is increasingly becoming a major health problem in the country. A study by Taylor (2015) indicates that the rate of obesity increases as these children get older. For those aged 2-5 years, the rate of obesity is estimated to be 13.9%. Bellisari (2016) notes that it increased to 18.4% for those aged 6-11 years and 20.6% for those aged 12-19 years. The Hispanic children are the worst affected by the problem, with 25.8% of them considered obese, while Black children come second at 22%. If urgent measures are not taken to address this problem, it may become worse in the few years to come.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity is a dangerous but manageable health condition that people should not ignore. It is important to understand the causes of this problem so that one can know how to manage the condition. The following are the three main causes of obesity.

Nutritional Habits

The nature of food and the manner in which it is taken is largely considered the main determinant of obesity. When children take in food rich in calories at close intervals, they are likely to become obese. Popular junk foods such as French fries, hamburgers, fried chicken, and pizzas are high in calories. If their intake is not regulated, then one can accumulate excess fat, leading to obesity.

Physical activities

The emergence of computer games has reduced the level of physical activity among children. Taylor (2015) argues that children no longer find fun in outdoor games. They prefer spending time indoors, watching movies or playing computer games. Delgado (2013) observes that cognitive learning theory can help explain the reduced physical activities among children. Parents are rarely at home and encourage their children to stay indoors playing computer games. As such, these children grow up knowing that physical exercise is less important.

Genetics

Olson (2017) explains that obesity can be inherited. It is likely that obese parents may pass the gene to their children. For such children, diet may play a minimal role in their gaining of weight.

Impact of Childhood Obesity on the Economy

Childhood obesity is one of the major problems in the United States that the government is struggling to eliminate. The federal and state governments spend a lot of money every year to manage patients suffering from obesity or illnesses associated with it. It means that over 20% of the annual healthcare budget is spent on such illnesses. The report indicates that the increasing population of those suffering from obesity and related illnesses increases the need for the services of the medical staff. Individual families also suffer because they have to spend resources to ensure that their loved ones are treated.

Conclusion

The review of the literature reveals that childhood obesity is becoming a major problem in the United States as the number of affected children continues to increase. The problem is not only causing deaths among these minors but also creates an economic burden in the country. It is necessary to find a lasting solution to reduce cases of childhood obesity.

References

Alston, J. M., & Okrent, A. M. (2017). The effects of farm and food policy on obesity in the United States. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bellisari, A. (2016). The anthropology of obesity in the United States. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Delgado, M. (2013). Social justice and the urban obesity crisis: Implications for social work. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Olson, S. (2017). Driving action and progress on obesity prevention and treatment: Proceedings of a workshop. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Taylor, N. (2015). Schooled on fat: What teens tell us about gender, body image, and obesity. London, UK: Routledge.