Friday, June 6, 2008

The Childhood Obesity Equation Is As Simple As A Equals B

by Donald Saunders

When it comes to weight the human body is not a difficult machine to understand. In order to function it requires energy which it gets from the food we eat which is broken down into sugars to fuel the various complex mechanisms of the body and waste products which we simply expel.
As long as the balance between the amount of food we take in for conversion into energy and the energy we expend going about our normal day to day business remains in balance our weight remains steady. However, if we take in more food than we need to convert into energy then the body simply stores the excess fuel for a rainy day in the form of fat.

So, let us take a look at the United States, which has one of the world's highest obesity rates, and examine both sides of energy equation.

Data collected over the past twenty years shows that, on average, the energy intake of most Americans has increased by about 200 Kcal/day and that much of this has come from an increased consumption of sweetened beverages, which today account for a staggering twenty-five percent of the daily calorie intake for young adults. In addition, consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has fallen to levels which are below those recommended and consumption of fast food prepared meals and low cost energy-dense foods has increased. A final factor of note here is that regular meal times have also largely disappeared and that people are increasingly eating throughout the day.

On the other side of the equation surveys also show that energy expenditure has dropped markedly in recent years with the Centers for Disease Control reporting that less than thirty percent of the population today lead lives which provide them with an adequate level of physical activity. For the remainder, about another thirty percent are not too far below a satisfactory level of activity but some forty percent are leading what amounts to sedentary lifestyles. Most worrying of all however is the fact that children are leading lives at well below the necessary level of activity for healthy growth and development.

In one particular study involving girls between the ages of nine and eighteen a very significant drop in the levels of physical activity was recorded over previous studies and you do not have to look very far to see why. The level of physical activity in schools in well down, due in part to budgetary constraints and increasing pressure for higher academic performance, while outside of school physical activity is often limited by a variety of factors including the need for safety. For example, the number of children who now walk or cycle to school has fallen dramatically in recent years and, rather than playing outside, the average child now watches well over thirty hours of television each week.

Against this background it is hardly surprising that the energy equation no longer balances and that the increased energy intake on one side and the dramatically reduced energy expenditure on the other side, especially in children and young adults, accounts in no small measure for the obesity epidemic that continues to sweep across the United States.

The answer to the problem of course is very simple, but getting people to take the action necessary to put the equation back into balance is going to be a long and hard battle which is going to see many more casualties before it is won.

About the Author provides a growing number of articles including several childhood obesity articles and also provides additional information on child obesity surveys



The Childhood Obesity Equation Is As Simple As A Equals B



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home