Jasmine FahrnbauerMs. CorbettNovember 14, 2011AP Literature Childhood Obesity Across the United States, the growing epidemic known as childhood obesity is takingover the lives of children,holding them back from fulfilling their utmost potentialand paralyzingthem from proper development during the most crucial time of theirlives.Childhood obesity isone of the greatest concerns America currently faces. In the past twenty years, the numbers ofobese children in the United States have continued to dramatically rise. Most parents areseemingly unaware or apathetic to the dangerous, painful, and misleading lifestyle they havecreated not only for their childrenbut also for the generations to come. Approximately 17% ofchildren and adolescents, from age two to nineteen, suffer from obesity (“U.S. Obesity Trends”).While there are many factors that play into the cause of obesity, the spiraling effects obesity hason individual childrenand society are much greater than expected. Obese children sufferfromfailing to achieve their highest intellectual potential,behavioral concerns, and countlesshealth issues. A child’s education is probably one of the most important aspects in their life; it sets thefoundation of their future and allows them to socialize and participate in a learning atmosphere.Some may be surprised to find that proper nutrition is a key ingredient to a proper education.However, meager nutrition prevents students from being physically and mentally engaged in theclassroom. Studies also show that apoor diet is associated with Attention-Deficit/HyperactivityDisorder due to the preservatives, sugars and lack of thiamine found in junk foods (Boyer).
Fahrnbauer 2These learning defects, which prevent children from focusing in school, can be preventedthrough the correct intake of wholesome foods. A variety of vitamins and nutrients must beconsumed on a regular basisin order to allowthe human brain to be alert and function at itsmaximum rate.Studies have proven that student’s test scores are affected as well. According to areport by the American School Association,“Fourth grade students with a poor protein intakescored lower on achievement tests than their peers with adequate nutrition” (Walker). Similarly,these same students who skipped breakfast scored lower on problem solving tests that measuredfor speed and accuracy.When the brain is not active and able to appropriately functionthroughout the day, a child’s education is unconsciously being negatively influenced. A poor dietcan impair a child’s neural development, which leads to lower IQ (“Childhood Obesity”).Whenthe brain receives proper fuel, it is able to work quicker and more efficiently, thus allowingstudents to test better because their capability ofrecalling information increases. A student’sability to obtain information, participation in class discussions, and do well on tests is at greatrisk whenpoor dieting comes into play. Proper sustenancenot only benefits a student’s education through their ability to acquireknowledge, but it also allows students to be more physically active at school.However, when astudent does not receive the correct vitamins found in foods, they lose their energy and becomelazy and apathetic. Studies have shown that deficiencies in certain nutrients cause anemia, acondition characterized by the lack of healthy red blood cells and symptoms of weakness andfatigue (Porter). Kids need energy to function throughout the day to make good grades and havean opportunity to receive a higher education. Instead, undernourished students spend their timesleeping in the classroom in attempts to regain the energy their bodies lose through the lack ofproper nutrition (Boyer).Boyer concludes that without enough carbohydrates, proteins and good
Fahrnbauer 3fats, a child may become lethargic and irritable. Foods high in calories and fat found in schoollunches and vending machines are consumed instead of vegetables and proteins. Without theproper nutrition to fuel their bodies, kids areuninvolved, which fuelslaziness and lack of activity,thus creating a continuous cycle of obesity. Self-image is a major concern resulting from childhood obesity that is often overlooked.Many negative social and psychological ramificationsare associated with obesity. Childrensuffering from being overweight often suffer from behavior issues as well.Janssen describes thestruggle most students undergo at school and states that, “Overweight and obese school-agedchildren are 1.8 times more likely to be the victims and perpetuators of bullying behaviors thantheir normal-weight peers (Janssen).”Being aheavy child sets them apart from the averagestudent, allowing them to be a much larger target for harassment and bullying. Bullying canoften cause children to become bitter towards their peers and eventually towardsthemselves.Because of the subliminal influence the media has on today’s society, many tend tofrown upon the lifestyle of the obese.Through the use of internet, television, billboards, andmany other forms of advertisement, America has created an icon of beautyonly featuring slimcharacters just to promote a company’s product. As these aspects are very common in today’sculture, it is popular for kids to have a misconstrued viewpoint of “beauty”. This negative viewcauses some children and adults, whether consciously or unconsciously, to socially rejectoverweight kids.Through the rejection of peers, obese children find it harder to fit in and makefriends and become socially awkward.According to the researchers at the University ofCalifornia, malnutrition leads to awkward and anti-social traits throughout childhood (Thomas).When a child is young, they are at their most vulnerable stage in life, as they are more self-conscious about their image. They become aware of their aberration through the taunting of their
Fahrnbauer 4peers and often turn to self-rejection and depression. Research has shown that there is no clearone-way connection between obesity and depression. Instead, studies have shown that the twoseem to feed off each other in a vicious, self-destructive cycle. Studies have also shown thatobese people are twenty-five percent more likely to experience a mood disorder such asdepression compared to those who are not obese (Thomas). This depression commonlycontributes to more eating, therefore adding to the weight of the person, which causes thecontinuous cycle to seem unbreakable. The hopeless outlook obese children develop cause manyof them to turn to suicide. As reported by Science Daily, “Teens who believe they are overweightwere at greater risk for suicide attempts compared to those who did not believe they wereoverweight” (Swahn).The American media causes obese adolescents to be insecure of theirabnormality, feeding their depression and hopelessness. The most obvious effects of childhood obesity areshort term and long-term health issues.Some common and immediate risks that are associated with obesity are high blood pressure,sleep apnea, dental issues, and joint and bone malfunctions. High blood pressure is an earlyindication of heart problems, which may eventually become heart disease. Some kids developsleep apnea, which prevents them from breathing properly and receiving enough oxygenthroughout the night (Porter). Dental issues are another short term affect that is caused throughexcessive intake of sugar (Porter). A diet consisting of many sweets creates a great amount ofplaque buildup and eventuallycavities. Plaque buildup also triggers heart issues. Joint and bonemalfunctions are another majorresult of malnutrition (Porter). Thedefects that children obtain at ayoung age prevent them from becoming highly involved in activities or participate in sportsduring theiradolescent years. Sisk reinforces these dangers claiming, “The rising prevalence ofoverweight and obese children and adolescents further increases the risk of injury, not only
Fahrnbauer 5during a sport but also during daily physical activity routine.”The bones of a obese child aremuch more frail and unable to support excess weight causing obese children to be at a greaterrisk of breaking bones and have joint issues. These short term and long term health issues are justsome of the many issues children are to deal with because of poor nutrition. Another long term effect caused by obesity is the effect it has on a child’s future. Oncethis lifestyle of laziness and improper diet begins, children find it much more difficult stop theirvicious cycle of obesity. This emphasizes the importance of raising awareness for this issue earlyin children’s lives before it is too late. For instance, obese children who attempt to work out andexercise easily become disheartened. The excess weight causes them to quickly become fatiguedand holds them back from doing exercises most normal athletes find fairly simple. Because ofthe excess amount of weight their bones are required to support, they also experience more painthan normal weight children. Overweight children struggle to complete simple tasks such assprinting and making quick movements. Attempting to partake in athletics can often strip themof their confidence, causing most kids to give up sports due to lack of motivation and fatigue.Unable to break free of their poor eating habits as children, they continue a lifestyle ofinadequate nutrition into adulthood. Not aware of how to prepare and cook nutritious foods, theyare unable to lose their excess weight. Alifestyle of unhealthy eating follows them for the rest oftheir life and eventually gets passed down to their off-spring, thus creating a cyclical effect forfuture generations who have also adopted their parents poor eating habits (Sisk). However, thegreatest and most perilouslong-term effects of childhood obesity are heart disease and type twodiabetes. Diabetes is one of the biggest concerns in recent years because of the rising number ofchildren afflicted with this disease (Sisk).Diabetes and heart disease spark the most attention
Fahrnbauer 6among Americans because of their severity. Each year, countless lives are taken due to the directand indirect health effects obesity has on children’s bodies. Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic that affects lives in ways that can no longerafford to be overlooked. Many underestimate the power and deception that lies behind these twowords. Childhood obesity is no longer an issue to be taken lightly. Whether one is walking downthe street or observing a lunchroom of high school students, it is almost impossible to disregardthe large percentage of adolescents suffering from obesity. The effects of obesity have becomeincreasingly evident in children’s education, social behaviors, and health issues. If a quick curefor this perpetual crisis is not found, not only will the current society continue to be effected, butan unhealthy status quowill be created for the future generations to come.
Fahrnbauer 7 Works CitedBoyer, Allison. “Effects of Poor Diet in Children.” www.ehow.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ehow.com/about_4798324_effects-poor-diet-children.html>.“Childhood Obesity.” http://aspe.hhs.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/ reports/child_obesity/>.“Child Obesity.” http://childhoodobesityinfo.blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.Dr. Kal. “Overweight Children Need Our Help.” www.drkalsweightlosstips.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.drkalsweightlosstips.com/overweight-children.html>.Janssen, Ian. “Associations Between Overweight and Obesity With Bullying Behaviors in School-Aged Children.” http://pediatrics.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/5/1187.short>.Porter, Lisa. “LACK OF ENERGY, SLEEPINESS, & VITAMIN DEFICIENCY.” www.livestrong.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/485254-lack-of-energy- sleepiness-vitamin-deficiency/>.Sisk, Jennifer. “Children’s Sports Injuries — A Weighty Issue.” www.todaysdieitian.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/td_0306p50.shtml>.Swahn. “Teens Who Think They’re Overweight More Likely To Try Suicide.” www.sciencedaily.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/ 090520064349.htm>.Thomas, Dennis. “Depression and Obesity.” www.everydayhealth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/depression-and-obesity.aspx>.