Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Parents & Child Caretakers Obesity in America is literally a growing problem, affecting every age group. Children are the most venerable group because they have no control over where they have dinner or how often they have fast food. Parents and guardians make decisions about food and are responsible for the health of children. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last twenty years. This is concerning because Type Two diabetes is a horrible, crippling disease that is affecting children and teens dramatically whereas the disease was primarily seen in adults.

Children are said to have a shorter life p than their parents for the first time ever. In the United States sixty-six percent of adults are overweight and one in three adults are overweight. Children that are overweight usually become overweight teens and possible obese adults. With an increase in processed food and fast food chains springing up everywhere everyone must be very cautious of what they eat and how often the eat fast food. Parents must be especially careful with deciding upon what their children will eat for dinner and other meals away from school.

Fast food restaurants are convenient and an obvious choice when parents are short on time getting children from one place to the other. While time may sometimes be short compromising children’s health for the sake of a few minutes is not worth it. It is critical that healthy meals are provided for children to ensure their future health. Social Service Organizations Social Service Organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services agree that childhood obesity is a growing epidemic.

According to Dr. William Dietz of the CDC, the number of children between the ages of 6-11 who are obese has more than doubled over the past 20 years. The main interests of these organizations are children and their health. In today’s society, children are simply not as physically active as they were in the past. Other factors such as growing fast food industries, time and money constraints, and increasing numbers of single parents have contributed to obesity within our children.

In order to help children achieve a healthy lifestyle many organizations have created programs that provide school children with healthy snacks, while others sponsor programs designed to promote physical activity. In order for these programs to be successful, it is important that children are aware of the health risks associated with obesity and the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. These organizations try to educate children using pamphlets and instruction within the school systems.

Many have created their own cartoon characters to promote eating fruits & vegetables, and engaging in physical activities. These characters were developed to compete with current advertisements that use characters such as Scooby Doo or Spongebob Squarepants. Children, like many adults, can be swayed when advertisements use attractive sources. Although neither of these organizations claim that advertisements are one of the contributing factors to childhood obesity, they do believe that advertisements can help them to battle the epidemic.

These organizations have also yet to hold the fast food industries to blame, they contribute the escalating numbers to be a factor of the environment these children are being raised in. The environment could include anything from the neighborhood the child grows up in and the neighborhood grocery store’s selection of fresh fruits & vegetables to more recently adapted things such as the fast food restaurants on every corner & video game systems in most homes. As stated earlier, the main interests of these organizations are the children and their health.

Based on these interest, Social Service Organizations across the United States are actively promoting “healthy lifestyles” and will continue to battle this growing epidemic. Public Policy Makers Public Policy Makers are pushing efforts on all levels, to include federal, state, local, and community organizations, to combat the growing disease known as childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity effects more than 9 million children and teenagers between the ages of 6-19 in the United States with another 8 million considered “at risk” of becoming obese.

These staggering figures have cause groups to form all across the country and organize their efforts to prevent this disease. One such organization is the Leadership for Healthy Communities, which is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The RWJF holds summits nationwide events calling on policy leaders nationwide to advance healthy eating and active living options in their communities. According to the RWJF, a special emphasis has een placed on collaborative state and community policy approaches that address childhood obesity among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the epidemic. The RWJF also has a panel, which consists of its chairmen, doctors, lawyers, but more importantly politicians on the state and federal level who are taking childhood obesity head-on and working with organizations like the RWJF to promote healthy, cost effective change in communities nationwide.

Arkansas, as well as many other states, has adopted legislation preventing the sale of “fatty foods” within its public schools. Arkansas Act 1220 was adopted and immediately implemented in 2003, creating the state’s first Child Health Advisory Committee, which coordinates Statewide Efforts to Combat Childhood Obesity and related Illnesses and works to improve the Health of the Next Generation of Arkansans, and banned the sale of “fatty foods and soft drinks” within public schools of all levels.

The amount of legislation passed and adopted grew dramatically from 2003 to 2005. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention performed a nationwide scan of legislation from all 50 states to determine how much, if any, legislation had been or is in the process of being passed by state governments to combat childhood obesity. From this study, the CDC identified 717 bills and 134 resolutions that focus on childhood obesity. The results pulled from this study are as follows: 17% of bills and 53% of resolutions were adopted on the state level.

The CDC statistically grouped all legislation and resolutions passed into topic areas with most legislation focusing on school nutrition standards and vending machines, physical education and activity, and studies, councils, or task forces created for the prevention of childhood obesity on the community level. Community related topic areas adopted through bills were walking and biking paths, which accounted for 37% of bills passed, farmers’ markets, which accounted for 36% of bills passed, and statewide initiatives which focus primarily on model school policies and safe routes to school.

Overall, the government, all both the federal and state level, has actively engaged and combated childhood obesity and will continue to do so until the disease is under control and decreased. Insurance Companies Growing obesity rates equals growing healthcare costs. Health insurance rates have been rising, with double-digit increases in the past 3 years. Obesity is known to considerably increase your chances of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems. According to the Surgeon General’s office, obesity cost the economy more than $100 billion a year.

Insurance companies are aware of these costs associated with obesity, therefore, if you are an overweight individual trying to obtain health insurance, you may either be denied or will be forced to pay more for coverage, up to twice as much. We can’t blame all of the rising costs of health care on the obese population but if the majority of our nation is obese and it is substantially more expensive to insure an overweight individual, one can begin to see the impact it plays on our costs as a whole.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a new revised Medicare obesity coverage policy has been put into effect. Medicare will now be able to review scientific evidence in order to determine whether the specific treatments related to obesity would be covered by Medicare. Lawyers Lawyers along with others are suing companies that are making what is on America’s plates. Fault is being thrown around the court room as to who’s really to blame for the obesity epidemic in America today. Lawsuits for unhealthy foods being marketed to young children are turning up everywhere.

Many believe that cartoon characters used to market these foods are to blame in this mess of lawsuits. Lawyers are also saying that it may not be the lack of will but the addictive nature of the food causing obesity. On the other hand lawyers representing food companies say that this conclusion is junk science and the behaviors of those who overeat are not similar to those with addictions. With all of these lawsuits turning up there are many food companies changing their marketing strategy along with their image and actual product to be healthy choices.

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