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Child Obesity in America: Literature Review

Alejandra Guerrero
English 1312
March 30, 2014
Melanie Salome


Obesity has been a major cause in America especially in the lives of children due to the
major influences that children are faced with every day because of technology, their community
or even their parents. The research that has been reviewed gives many points and descriptions of
what the causes are of the increase in rate of obesity in children, what can be done to stop it and
what the consequences are of this ordeal. The rate has gone up almost every year and will
continue to do so unless there are changes in the lifestyles of children. Just like there are negative
influences, many positive influences can be created to establish a well set lifestyle so that they
are to live a healthier life. Throughout this literature review, there will be much needed
information that can be useful in knowing the factors of this situation that is terrorizing America
today and what can be done to stop it so that we can make sure the lifespan of future generations
will prosper and healthier lifestyles can be established.


Child Obesity in America: Literature Review
Today, all over America, there are plenty of choices for our children to eat at home or out
in their communities. Many fast food chains and different types of restaurants exist that eating at
these places is common for many families. Not only is it the food that are in our communities,
but the food that is made at home. Children from these families are affected by this and are lead
into a life of obesity that can cause them many problems throughout their life and sometimes
even lead to death. Today, 1 in 3 school aged children (12-18 years of age) are overweight but
with many starting at an early pre-school age. They need to be shown and taught on how to live
healthy lifestyles because in the end, the rate can keep getting higher and more will be affected
by this disease.
What are the causes for the increase of obesity for the children of America?
In this generation there are many influences that children see and hear every day that
causes the poor choices in food, drink and physical activity in their lives. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the leading cause of obesity in children is that they
take in more calories than needed and are not getting enough physical activity. In school, they
are surrounded by sugary drinks and the food given to them is too fattening and not healthy
enough for them to maintain a stable weight. Every day these children are given food that is not
suitable for their bodies and are not burning off the calories they consume, which can lead them
to live an unfit lifestyle and gain weight throughout their childhood.
Another source that can bring children under the influence of obesity is the
advertisements they are around almost all the time. The advertisements they see throughout their
community, at school, on the television, or even on the radio take a great toll on the choices they
make on food they want to eat. There are so many commercials and billboards that focus solely
on fast food chains and other junk food that make children think that is the food they should be

eating because of all the attention that is given to it. In comparison, advertisement on healthy
foods is non-existent to these children so they are given the wrong idea on what they should be
eating and because of this, have really no reason to actually go and start eating better.
Also, though what these children are eating can be a major cause in considering factors
for the increase in obesity, the lack of physical activity also takes a toll. Many schools and
communities dont really shine the light on teaching these kids that physical activity plays an
important role in their lives. About 8% of elementary schools, 6.4% of middle schools and 5.8%
of high schools have daily physical education and programs or equivalent throughout the country
which highlights the idea of how much physical activity these children are getting five days out
of the week. Also, communities dont have parks, recreation centers or even public transportation
that can take these kids to these places so that they keep active which then keeps them at home,
on the couch, playing video games or watching television all day. On average, about 65% of
children in America have televisions in their own bedroom with 2% of them being under the age
of two years old. All in all, the lifestyle that these children are living is what is causing them to
fall into the disease of obesity and the influences they are faced everyday isnt a great help either.
Parents also have a great part in the lifestyle that their children live because of the
influence they put on their children. The food that is served to them at home can also take part
whether or not their children will fall into the shadows of obesity because nowadays fast food
and take-out food make it easy for parents to bring food on the table when they feel they dont
have the time or energy to make a healthy home cooked meal for their family. Another cause can
be the things that parents buy their children such as video games, televisions, computers,
cellphones, tablets and much more can distract kids from going outside to participate in physical
activities that will help them grow stronger muscles and bones and staying healthy.

What can be the consequences for these children who become obese?
Once children are considered to be obese, there are many problems that come along with
it that can be emotionally, mentally and physically damaging but can also lead to death. Children
who live with this disease deal with many other health problems and as well as problems that
deal with their own self-esteem and confidence. In the article, Health Consequences of Obesity in
Youth: Childhood Predictors of Adult Disease, it is stated that early on in childhood when a child
is dealing with obesity, they are targets of discrimination and as they begin to mature the
problem becomes a part of their culture and has a great effect on females because they are
influenced to believe that they should be thinner and should weigh a certain weight. According to
the research done in this article, it is shown that many children (males and females ranging from
10 12 years old) prefer having friends with handicaps than those who are considered to be
obese and those who range from the ages of 6 11 years of age already associate negative
characteristics to obesity and this gives more reason on why many who suffer have problems
with self-esteem.
When it comes to physical problems dealing with obesity, many children develop other
forms of health problems that are caused by obesity. They are able to contract things such as high
blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary artery disease, coronary
vascular disease and even cancer. As you can see, not only are they facing the problems with
obesity but the other problems that come along with it and make it more difficult than it already
is for them just being overweight. If they continue to live this way, the consequences of being
overweight can follow them into adulthood which can cause more serious problems for them
because as they get older, the diseases get worse if they are not treated properly. Having to deal
with all these health problems is something that most children dont want to go through but as

they progress through life living with these situations, it can lower their lifespan which is
probably the worse consequence that comes along with obesity. With all the physical, emotional
and mental health problems that come with obesity it can make life hard for children to live
through their childhood dealing with all that comes with the disease.
What is being done to try and lower the percentage of children that are obese?
While it may seem that it is impossible to help and control the weight of children because
of the many influences they have on food and the way they live their life, there are plenty of
ways that can be used to prevent children from becoming obese or at least help them overcome
the disease. According to the American Heart Association, parents can encourage healthy eating
habits with their children, such as making healthier foods more fun for them, encouraging them
to drink more water and completely changing the diet of not only the children, but the entire
family so that everyone can take part in living a healthy lifestyle. Making sure that when parents
go to the supermarket they buy foods that are healthy and are good to eat because of low
calories, not much sugar and still taste good can help children be encouraged in eating healthy so
they can maintain a good health. Also, parents and even schools can implement the positives of
eating healthy such as it makes your heart, lung and other muscles stronger as well as making
them grow into healthy young adults that will be able to do many things because they took care
of their bodies.
Another way that parents, schools or communities can help prevent obesity in children is
the encouragement of physical activity. For example, schools can begin to build programs that
help children stay active for at least 60 minutes a day that will allow them to get all their muscles
moving and burning calories that will keep them in shape so that they can help build stronger
bones and muscles. Parents can also limit the time that they spend inside playing video games,
watching television and spending time on the internet by setting a certain amount of time that

they can be on it. By doing this, children can be encouraged to go outside and participate
activities that requires them to be physically active for a long period of time. The encouragement
of them being in sports can also help because that is one thing that most children enjoy doing
because of the high level of competition and challenges that they receive when playing.
Obesity can even be prevented by the small things that dont require much time such as
yearly doctor visits that will allow children and parents to know where the child stands
physically and if any lifestyle changes need to be made in order for them to maintain a healthy
weight. Also, just like there are negative influences making their way into the lives of these
children, parents can set positive influences by living a healthy lifestyle themselves. If parents
are maintaining their own weight and making sure that they are eating appropriately and
participating in physical activity their children will be influenced to do the same. Most children
look up to their parents, and if they are doing the right thing to stay healthy, most likely the
children will also because it will be considered the right way to live to them. In the end, it all
comes down to what these kids are hearing, seeing and participating in throughout their daily
Another key to success is patience. Most children are overweight when they are young,
but as they get older their bodies began to grow and get taller allowing them to grow into the
extra pounds they have and no longer having to worry about being overweight. Influencing the
child too much can also lead to overeating or making them more prone to an eating disorder that
will either make them lose too much weight or gain even more.
Child obesity is a major problem in America that is making the lives of these children
more difficult to live through. As obesity rates get higher and higher, the chances of it ever going

down can become slim due to the fact that negative influence will be even more publicized and
children will believe that these influences are the right way to live by. Implementing changes
throughout communities, schools and households can change so much if people put in time and
dedication to help prevent this disease from growing even more. Obesity has become a leading
cause in deaths and health problems and needs to be shown that it is not something that children
will want to have to deal with throughout their lives because of the many consequences that are
waiting at the end of the tunnel for these kids.


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Childhood Obesity: The Effects on Physical and Mental Health | AboutOurKids.org.
(n.d.). Childhood Obesity: The Effects on Physical and Mental Health |
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Health Consequences of Obesity in Youth: Childhood Predictors of Adult Disease. (n.d.). Health
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