Just take a short drive down any main street in a popular city and you will drive past no less than eight fast food restaurants and three convenient stores within a couple of blocks from each other. If that is the route driven on your way home every day from work and you don’t feel up to making a home cooked meal, what do you think your family will be eating that night. It is sometimes cheaper to buy a cheeseburger off of the value menu rather than cooking one at home.
Fast food is a large reason why childhood obesity takes place. Fast food restaurants do not only aim to attract tired parents but also aim to gain those who obtain low and high incomes with their reasonable, in-budget, menu prices. The fast food industry knows this and has placed themselves in high traffic areas so they can capitalize on tired and hard working parents. There are many reasons for childhood obesity, one of which is poverty; income levels significantly impacts obesity amongst children in a variety of ways.
Food insecurity happens when children do not have proper access or have limited access to nutritionally sound foods. In limited income houses, children tend to live in food insecure homes where food may be scarce or diets altered (Gundersen), poverty produces food insecurity Childhood obesity is a rising health problem, if gone untreated it can be life threatening. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, sleep apnea, low self esteem and discrimination just to name a few problems.
While there are many health and mental issues an obese child might go through, a good question to ask, that many people think to themselves while witnessing such a disease, would be how exactly did they get that way? There are many reasons a child could become obese, but a very significant issue is how family income and the economy affect the weight of a child. The ties between income and childhood obesity have been easily identified from successful surveys. One example of a successful survey was one completed by Allison Diamant.
She was able to have children and adolescents participate in a telephonic survey to identify physical activities that were being done on a daily schedule, what food is being consumed, how much each child weighs, and the family income. This survey was taken with the children of California. California is an excellent choice to pursue the survey because of how socially and economically diverse the state is. The state is well known of how many overweight people reside there. There were approximately 17,500 children who participated each year since 2001 (Diamant).
Results from the survey had shown that obesity in children is dropping, but not by much, one to two percent each year. Each state is able to differ greatly so it is best not to base the complete study a survey from one state. Although the economy crisis is current, it is good to know that childhood obesity is continuing to fall. There were more results found when the surveys were completed such as certain ethnic races, Africans and Latinos, had more problems with childhood obesity, especially with the addition of income. Results also had shown African and Latino males suffering from the disease more so than females of the same race.
Though the surveys were able to come to the conclusion that low income families tend to have more problems with childhood obesity, children who come from higher income families still suffer from the same problems as well. The survey was not meant to prove that wealthy children are problem free, but to determine exactly which children are being more affected. There are many factors that affect both lower and upper class children such as physical activities, how much television is watched each day, and knowledge of nutrition and how to live a healthy life.
Although there are many classes through school and at doctor’s offices that make children aware of obesity and how it is preventable, the surroundings of a child, such as where they live, how they grew up, and parent/child interaction, can sometimes play a large roll in determining if the child will be obese or average. Knowledge of the problem can help reduce the quick rising rate of obesity. Children have a thirst for knowledge, from birth, children are constantly learning new things, sometimes as parents we forget to teach the things that are important, such as nutritional value.
Often times people witness the out of control child with their parents crying, pouting, pounding their fist, screaming, basically every annoying thing in the book possible, all for some soda, or a piece of candy. Children are constantly being spoiled and given everything they desire not knowing the outcome of that. As a witness and a parent, it seems easier to give the child what they want so they don’t make a scene, but the easy way out is not always the best. If a child continually eats happy meals, candy, drink soda and juice filled with sugar, they will most likely have health problems and could become obese.
There have been fast food restaurants that have been sued because [they] made their child obese, but who has the power and the overall decision in feeding the child and feeding them what they should be eating. Sometimes it is easier to blame things on others so you don’t have to feel the guilt of turning a child obese because of their decisions. Even though children seem to be very active, constantly running everywhere, they sometimes cannot process their entire food intake. Every child is different, you can see a group of children all different heights and weights but same age group.
Almost every commercial break on television has a thirty second bit about a special at a local fast food restaurant. In the 1990’s McDonalds had their hamburgers on sale on a certain day of the week, instead of one dollar they were thirty nine cents. Imagine a family going there easily ordering twenty for a family of six. In a low income family, having the specials McDonald’s had to offer were almost the best thing that could happen because everyone is able to eat and have a full stomach. Everyday there are new ideas for new snacks, either healthy or un-nutritional, but each person has their choice at the store for which items them buy.
Price on items are constantly changing, mainly rising, especially the food that feed us energy and help us to live a healthier lifestyle. . Americans have consumed 400 more calories per day than the average in 1985 (Russel 2). If a low income family is trying to eat healthy, they might find it almost impossible because of the economy. A recent Cornell University analysis shows that the inflation-adjusted price of fruits and vegetables rose 17 percent between 1997 and 2003, while the price of a McDonald’s quarter-pounder and a Coca-Cola fell by 5. 44 percent and 34. 9 percent, respectively (Russel 2). It has been said that as long as you are physically active you can eat whatever you want and still keep off the weight, but what if communities did not have the money to let kids be active with sports and jungle gyms. A lot of children living in neighborhoods filled with poverty do not have the opportunity to participate in local team sports or play in a safe park. Everyday is something new, because of the current economic crisis; the government is constantly cutting budgets. Cutting school and communities budgets play a big role in child obesity.
Children that live in low income neighborhoods often times attend low income schools. Because of budget cuts the first things that get cut in schools are physical activities. Coaches are not able to get paid so the school cannot have a soccer, basketball or football team (Presant). Low income communities lack anything that can make a child active and have fun. Many times walking or driving into a low income neighborhood or “the ghetto” as some may call it, it is easy to notice the majority of children’s jungle gyms or sport fields are very damaged, or being taken over by a gang.
Children need activities to stay in shape instead of watching the television all day, and with the recession now, it’s not surprising that the obesity rates will rise in children. Surveys have found that children attending low income public schools compared to students attending schools in upper socioeconomic neighborhoods have a higher rate of obesity because of less physical activities and more television viewing throughout the day. Studies have shown that children from upper income families are more physical, watch less television, and study more (“Television and Obesity in Children”).
Although there have been many budget cuts of physical education, better known as P. E. , there have been many recent approaches to reduce the number of obese children. Obesity intervention courses have been put into schools to give children the knowledge on how to live a healthy life. By teaching kids the correct eating habits and that exercise is pertinent to live a healthy life, children are aware of what could happen to their healthy and bodies, and what they can do to prevent it.
Although school based interventions have reduced very little of childhood obesity (Birch), the importance of that knowledge is being put out to school-aged children, it is up to them how they would like to use it. Not only do schools need to spread the knowledge of health, but children need to be made aware of the problem in their homes from their families as well. Low income schools have been proven by surveys that they have a higher rate of obese and overweight children than upper income schools, students in public schools have 0. 150 higher body mass index than students in private schools ( Li, Ji).
School classes about health and lunch menu items are trying to make a change for the better health of the students. Just because a student is not able to afford a meal and has to receive meal aid, does not mean they should be given food that has no nutritional value at all. There has been a constant problem about school lunches and how unhealthy they are. Even though there have been attempted changes, it still seems as if no one will ever be happy. If there are only fruits and vegetables with no snacks such as chips and candy, then it is too healthy. If lunch only has unhealthy junk food such as cheeseburgers and chips, then it is junk food.
Students have always had the choice of what to put on their plate at school, and by providing the students with anti-obesity knowledge they can make the right choice of what should be put on their plate. School food managers and culinary specialist are constantly looking for ways to improve children’s diets. A culinary approach to healthy menu interventions that target school age children and encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables is very appealing for one major reason that the possibility that healthy dietary practices learned during childhood may continue throughout adulthood. A recent study at St.
Paul-Minneapolis middle school showed students’ parents and teachers found that only 18% of parents and 31% of teachers believed schools gave adequate attention to student nutrition (Roseman). With the constant school menu change, hopefully students and parents will be able to one day find new healthy choices they can put on the menu that will make all the difference to live a healthy life. With the current economic crisis, many parents have been laid off from their jobs, making them resort to; collecting unemployment, losing their house forcing them to move into low income neighborhoods where it is affordable.
A big change in a child’s life does take a toll on their way of living day to day, and health in this case. Many children have depression and being depressed, some people resort to food for comfort. Going from having everything you could ever imagine to losing everything you have, can make a child very depressed. People say that money can’t buy you happiness, but when someone is very comfortable with their way of living and were raised that way, changing that atmosphere has a big affect.
When moving a child out of a neighborhood and school that has many activities to participate in, to a school that had suffered from budget cuts and no longer has sports teams, the child would most likely stay inside at home becoming bored all day, leading him or her to sit on the couch doing nothing but watch television and snack on unhealthy food. On the opposite side of the spectrum, children who do have both working parents can often times be neglected. In both economic households, some children are neglected because of their hard working parents trying to provide for them.
When parents are not around as often, children are not able to learn important things while growing up; such as what food to eat, what is healthy and what is not, how many servings of fruits and vegetables do you need a day. Instead children are forced to find the facts themselves, or never learn them at all. Obesity in children has been a constant rising epidemic throughout the years, although it is treatable, many people are unable to afford it. Across the United States, American children are a part of the growing number in many health factors.
Several children are victims of a variety of health problems inflicted by the insufficiency of good nutrition and physical activity. In this new decade, fast, fatty, and sugary, foods have become a trend in our society. America’s children are exposed to these foods and unfortunately take part in this diet because their head providers, parents, present them with unhealthy eating habits. Not only do they have an inadequate nutritious diet, they also lack physical activity in their lives. As parents, they have control over what foods they bring to the household and are the key role models in their children’s lives.
It is very understandable how tired working parents can be and when they feel they have no energy to make a home cooked meal, and it is understandable when families are unable to afford the best nutritional food to put on the table, but parents should encourage their children to have a nutritious and active lifestyle as much as possible. Overall, parents are held responsible for their child’s health, no matter how hard they are working at their job that day. The amount of families eating fast-food and parents, who do not encourage physical activity among heir children, is at an all time high. A study made by Katie Bogue, a registered dietitian, found that on average, American families eat out four to five times a week. Another study from overweight and physically activity among children: a portrait of the states and the nation 2005 states that a survey that 28. 7 percent of children only get less than three days per week of physical activity from ages ten to seventeen, because parents let children spend too much inactive time, these children do not get enough physical activity due to the lack of parents encouraging physical activity.
This reveals a parent’s absent responsibility over their children‘s health. They apparently are not awake by the fact that their children’s health is possibly at risk. Parents need to be aware of the negative health aspects affecting their children. Parents can pursue simple steps to prevent their children from eating unhealthy foods and encourage them to eat nutritious foods. If eating out is a frequent, parents could choose healthier options at fast-food restaurants. For instance, McDonald’s offers healthy food options including salads, brewed tea, and yogurt parfaits for just $1. 0 each. Parents could also purchase healthier food choices by eliminating unhealthy ones, such as ditching the Oreos and buying the 100 calorie-packs by Nabisco. Parents could also purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables, since money seems to play a huge role in childhood obesity, frozen vegetables and fruits are much cheaper and provide equal nutrients. Buying whole-grain breads, low or non-fat yogurt, and diet soda all contribute highly to a healthier lifestyle.
As their main providers for nutrition, parents can make simple changes towards their health for them and their family. Due to the absence of physical activity in overweight and obese children, parents can inspire their children to become active. Because parents are significant role models in their children’s lives, they too need to be physically active with their children. Even if parent’s finances play a role in children not being able to participate in sports team, they could always take the family to the park or a close field to kick a ball around or play catch.
Parents can play sports or other activities such as soccer, flag football, hide-and-go-seek, tag, bicycling and various forms of physical activity for all ages of children. Parents can even take their children out for walks around their neighborhood, go jogging with their children, or take the whole family to a local city swimming pool during the summer. There are countless ways for parents and children to be physically active without having to pay a penny, even when there is nothing to participate in the community.
Having physically active parents enhances a child’s motivation to be active themselves. Parents are not always to blame when their children are either overweight or obese, sometimes it is due to genetics or a medical disorder, and many times low income families are unable to get the medical attention they need for their children because of how much money it cost. Between the years of 1999 and 2005, the average medical care costs for children suffering from obesity rose from $125. 9 million to $237. million (Weitzman, Michael). Medical costs might be easy to pay for those who have medical insurance or can fork out the money, but those who do not; often times get left untreated unless assisted by the government. There are government assisted medical aids that low income families can receive such as Medicaid. Medicaid provides health coverage for over fifty million children, covering preventative care, immunizations, screening and treatment of health conditions, doctor and hospital visits.
All States provide Medicaid to infants and children under age 6 with family incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level ($29,725 for a family of four in 2011) (What is Medicaid? ). With the help of Medicaid all children are able to be treated and receive the necessary treatments to help relieve them of living with such a disease as obesity. There are countless numbers of people who resort to having no medical insurance, no money to pay for doctor visits, and when in dire need of assistance either self medicate or enter the hospital through the emergency room racking up a big bill.
Although there is aid out there for medical assistance, many people do not know about their helpful resources. Childhood obesity will continue to rise and be a problem in America, but with the correct knowledge to prevent obesity and learning to be more physical, no matter how much income has played a role in the disease; many children can live a healthier life. There are many answers to determine why childhood obesity continues to rise, but there is one in particular that many people find interesting, and that is household income level.
It’s unfortunate to know that people in America are suffering from health issues. There have always been rumors about America and how Americans are just getting bigger, fatter, and how unhealthy we have become, but it is time to put an end to the everlasting problem of obesity. Times are changing, ghetto’s are getting cleaned up and safer to live in, they mine as well not be called “ghetto” any longer, the economy is finally making a comeback from its fall, people are starting to find jobs, the world is “going green,” it is about time everyone starts living a healthier life.