Sunday, June 21, 2009

Childhood Obesity - Statistics, Health Risks and Causes

by Fiona Applebee

What is a traditional average American family? It used to be described as a "married couple with 2.4 kids and a dog living in a house with a white picket fence. Things have changed dramatically and continue to change steadily. Technology has something to do with some of these changes and the economy has a great deal to do with the changes. Most women used to stay at home and take care of the children and the household. Now, it takes both parents working to keep the family going in most households. Children are often the ones who pay the price, and the price often comes in the form of childhood obesity.

Childhood Obesity Statistics

According to childstats.gov, a forum on child and family statistics, 17% of children aged 6 to 17 were overweight from 2005-2006 in comparison to 6% in 1976-1980.

Why is this? First, children aren't eating the meals that they need to eat and aren't getting the exercise they need. No longer is the average family the one that has a healthy, home-cooked meal prepared for the family to sit at the table and eat. It's all about eating on the go and the food that we eat when we are in a hurry can really pack on the pounds.

Health Risks of Child Obesity

How serious is child obesity? There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is considered Juvenile Diabetes which is an endocrine condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. It typically occurs during childhood or adolescence. Type 2, on the other hand, has always been considered Adult Onset Diabetes and usually occurs later in life. With the increase of obesity in children, there has been a sharp rise in the number of children who are developing Adult Onset Diabetes. Obesity is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes as opposed to not being obese in Type 1.

Factors that Explain the Rise in Childhood Obesity

The end of the family dinner isn't the only contributing factor to childhood obesity. Children are no longer required to walk to and from school, they don't get play time for physical activity at school, and they don't have chores that demand physical exertion. Many modern day children spend their time indoors in front of the television or playing video games. Electronics have become the live-in babysitters that give busy parents free time to take care of other responsibilities. American children simply aren't getting enough exercise.

While being entertained in front of the TV, children snack on foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Their activity levels have decreased while their intake of junk foods has greatly increased. This has the potential to create children with many health problems related to lack of nutrition and over-consumption of unhealthy foods. Fruits and vegetables that are essential for growth and good health have taken a backseat to processed treats.

The average family in America is no longer the image captured in many black and white sitcoms but has instead become a decline in quality that only seems to be growing as a trend in family behavior.


About the Author
The author writes informative articles for today's modern family. She specializes in family finance and family fun topics.

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Childhood Obesity - Statistics, Health Risks and Causes

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