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Childhood Obesity

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ALGates
Words 1992
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Childhood Obesity

ENG 122

April 26, 2012
Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is an ongoing problem that we will all face in our lifetime. We may encounter this from our own experience as being an overweight child, seeing it in our children, their friends or even in our grandchildren. We all need to have a better understanding of childhood obesity. We will start this journey by address a brief history of childhood obesity, short and long-term health concerns, methods for treating obesity, and prevention of obesity in children. The overall purpose will be to foster an understanding of the impact high-fructose corn syrup usage in the last 30 years has had in relation to the childhood obesity epidemic. Childhood obesity is not a new problem but it is becoming an epidemic in the United States. Dr. Fals (2009) writes, “this country has been struggling with obesity for well over 20 years now” (p. 1). Most of us can remember when there was maybe one overweight child in a classroom, now there are two to three instead. The National Center for Health Statistics has been conducting surveys since 1963 relating to obesity among children and adolescents in the United States (Ogden, 2010). This is the only organization that has solid scientific history and statistical data available. It appears that obesity was not tracked on a nationwide level prior to 1963. One reason may be that there weren’t enough cases of childhood obesity to raise any red flags up until the 1960s. Since the National Center for Health Statistics have been conducting these surveys, obesity has been showing a continually increasing rate (Marks, 2011). The largest jumps in reported obesity were from the 1976-1980 studies to the 1988-1994 studies. Obesity among children increased from 5.5% to 10.0% on an overall average. That was the largest increase among the 45 years that the study has been conducted nation wide. It was also noted that obesity rates doubled in the 1980s and now have tripled in the 2000s (Berg, 2005). This is just a snapshot to help you understand the scope of the problem. Now that you have the basic knowledge of the severity of obesity lets discuss some of the health implications that can stem from this disease. As obesity becomes more common in our youth, so do the myriad of health conditions that were formerly thought of as adulthood diseases. There are two types of health problems that are associated with obesity, physical and emotional. Short-term effects of this disease lean more towards emotional. Most children that are struggling with obesity will tend to be depressed or have low self-esteem. They may even show anxiety symptoms. Classmates may be teasing or bullying them which may cause the depression or anxiety (Hassink, 2006). These health concerns would now also need to be addressed. Some of the long-term effects of being obese are high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and several types of cancer (Rossen, 2012). Obviously most of these would be caused by long-term obesity and not treating the disease or giving it the appropriate medical attention it deserves. Unfortunately, in the last 15 years these formerly “adult” diseases have become prevalent in children and adolescents. Diagnoses have now occurred with type 2 diabetes in children as young as eight years old (Daniels, 2006). This is just one of many concerns that are now being addressed because of the rapid increase of childhood obesity and the health implications of not treating this preventable disease. Childhood obesity can be caused by several things to include genetics, an underlying medical condition not previously identified, medication, diet or a combination of any of these. Since there are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration before you can treat childhood obesity, you should start with involving your child’s pediatrician or family doctor in help identifying the root cause. The doctor should begin with a detailed medical examination; gather family history, any medications the child uses, nutritional history to include the types, quality and quantity of foods that are consumed, and the child activity level (Caprio, 2006). Part of the assessment should include an accurate weight and height of the child to plot on the gender-specific body mass index chart, and a measurement of body fat. This will allow the doctor to make an accurate assessment of the degree of obesity. Once all the facts have been collected, the doctor can now try and determine the root cause for the obesity. If obesity is caused by medications, parents might have to look at alternative options if the child cannot be taken off of that particular medication or switched to another type. The types of medications that cause the most significant weight gain in children treat Asthma and ADHD. If the obesity is not due to medication the best treatment plans seem to be a combination of a dietary component, behavioral modification, physical activity, and parental involvement (Caprio, 2006). Now that you have seen what some of the treatments are available to obese children let look at what may be some of the causes and how to prevent obesity from occurring in children in the first place. Many would like the general public to believe this disease is mainly genes or lack of motivation for our youth to exercise: these are not the primary influences for obesity in children. There are many things that directly contribute to our youths rapid increase rate with obesity over the years but there is one direct link that sticks out like a sore thumb, high fructose-corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is the key element to childhood obesity. It is the silent culprit that has slowly leached itself into our daily lives and now has an overwhelming presence in everything we eat and drink. Since it’s creation and introduction in the 1970s, high fructose corn syrup usage parallels the rise in obesity during the same time period. This one sugar substitute is slowly killing us all, and especially our children, without us even noticing it’s overarching effects.
High-fructose corn syrup was introduced and widely accepted as a sugar substitute starting in the 1970s (Flavin, 2008). It was originally introduced as a sweetener mainly for soft drinks to cut overhead costs. Since than high-fructose corn syrup is now being used in salad dressing, commercially made cakes, cookies, breakfast cereal, bread, crackers, and ice cream. This supposedly safe sugar substitute has somehow made its way into almost everything we eat on a daily basis. Simply open up your cabinets and read the labels. It is a shocking surprise to see where this sugar substitute can be found. The increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in our daily lives this can be directly linked to the rise of childhood obesity in the United States. Around the same time that it went into mass production and replaced cane sugar is the same time that childhood obesity doubled.
Some would like us to believe that this is just coincidence and this low cost sweetener is just as safe as any other natural sugar; it is not. Dr. Hyman (2011) made an alarming statement regarding the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and the direct effects it has had on obesity. “The average American has increased their consumption of high-fructose corn syrup from zero to more than sixty pound per person per year. During that time period, obesity rates have more than tripled” (p. 1).
You can view the propaganda that our government is trying to feed us on this supposedly safe sugar alternative. Just watch the television commercials that say this artificial sugar is just as safe and good for you as natural sugar. You can even visit the corn.org website that tries to debunk the myths, rumors, or proven facts surrounding the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup. The corn industry as even tried to rename high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) “corn sugar” to give the illusion of safety and wholesomeness. The FDA has officially stated that high-fructose corn syrup is not a natural food since it cannot be produced in nature without mankind’s assistance.
High-fructose corn syrup is a by-product of government subsidies encouraging farmers to grow corn since the 1930s. Since farmers have been paid for the last 80 plus years to produce more corn than our population can eat other derivatives to use corn in other creative ways were fashioned and high-fructose corn syrup was born (Barbour, 2011). There was no scientific method based research done in previous years regarding the prolong affects of using high-fructose corn syrup.
In recent years, scientists have now started to conduct experiments on long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup. The findings are alarming since it goes against everything that we have heard previously from the corn industry or even our own US Department of Agriculture. At Princeton University, a research team conducted an experiment using high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar on rats. The experiment produced the following finds, “the long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup led to abnormal increase in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides” (Parker, 2010).
With this information one can easily draw the conclusion that childhood obesity is not something that just simply developed over time on its own, but it was created from not understanding the consequence of our actions in creating a low cost substitute for sugar and increasing its use at an alarming rate. If individuals are informed about the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup then they can start to make inform decisions that will affect their children in a healthy way. By knowing the true dangers of high fructose corn syrup we can start to reverse childhood obesity.
References
Barbour, S. (2011). Obesity. United States: Gale and Greenhaven Press.
Berg, F. M. Underage and Overweight Our Childhood Obesity Crisis- What Every Family Needs to Know. New York: Hatherleigh Press.
Caprio, S. Treating child obesity and associated medical conditions. The future of children.
16(06), 209-224. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/future_of_children/v016/16.1caprio.html
Daniels, S. The consequences of childhood overweight and obesity. The future of children.
16(06), 47-67. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/future_of_children/v016/16.1daniels.html
Fals, A. (2009, August 4). Childhood obesity: a bit of history. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/childhood-obesity-in-national/childhood-obesity-a-bit-of-history Flavin, D. (2008, December). Metabolic danger of high-fructose corn syrup. Retrieved from http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2008/dec2008_Metabolic-Dangers-of-High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup_01.htm Group, E. (2010, July 8). 5 health dangers of high fructose corn syrup. Retrieved from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/high-fructose-corn-syrup-dangers/ Hassink, S. G. (2006). A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity A Road Map to Health. United
States: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Hyman, M. (2011, May 16). The not-so-sweet truth about high fructose corn syrup. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/high-fructose-corn-syrup-dangers_b_861913.html
Marks, S. (2011, January 24). The history of obesity in children. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/364363-the-history-of-obesity-in-children/ Ogden, C. (2010, June 4). NCHS health e-stat prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents: United States, Trends 1963-1965 through 2007-2008. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_child_07_08/obesity_child_07_08.htm
Parker, H. (2010, March 22). A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn Syrup prompts considerable more weight gain. Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/ Rossen, L. M. & Rossen E.A (2012). Obesity 101. New York, NY: Springer Publishing
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