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Contrary to the other health issues, obesity in children is deemed the responsibility of the parent and not the society as a large. The parents of obese children are often victims of public judgment since they are contributing members to the rise and persistence of the obesity. Often, the society focuses on the lapses in upbringing as the main cause of obesity. The individual is also responsible for the development of the obesity. He or she could be faulted for the deliberate disregard of the health information and the insistence on obesity. The pressure on obesity exists in the context of the stigmatization of the overweight children and individuals as well as the direct inducements to make the people spend more on the unhealthy living. The parents of the obese children and the obese children often find themselves fighting for the upholding of a healthy lifestyle by their children while the society increases the pressure for the consumption of the dietary products that will increase the chances of the children being obese. The omnipotence of the media pressure to consume certain products is often stronger than the power of the parent or the individual to resist the unhealthy product.
The media paints the products in a light of the coolness of the users. The paper will focus on the challenges facing the majority of the children in their fight against the pressure of communing unhealthy foods, as well as the pressure, to become healthy and lose weight. It will focus on the extent and nature of the stigma directed towards overweight or obese people. It will also examine the contradicting advice on the ways of dealing with the stigmatization and how the advice contradicts with each other. It will expose the difficulties in learning new eating habits in the face of the biological and other food preferences ('Corrigendum: Identification of an Obese Eating Style in 4-year-old Children Born at High and Low Risk for Obesity', 2010). The paper will culminate in the recommendation for a chance in thinking on the role of the society in the perception and treatment of obesity in children.
Stigma is the social consequences of being in a certain condition. The consequences of having a condition that is deemed to be less appealing to the people often lead to serious social consequences. Obesity is a condition that is not lauded by the majority of the people. The pervasiveness of the condition manifest in the prevalence of harassment directed towards the individuals that have the condition (Decelis, Fox & Jago, 2013). Obese and overweight people are the target of societal bias and stigma.
The public perception towards the people leans towards negativity in different public environments such as educational institutions, interpersonal relationships, the medical facilities and the mass media (Decelis, Fox & Jago, 2013). The public places mentioned above often hold the obese people in a certain negative light compared to the people with the normal weight. Bias and stigma could be direct or implied by conduct or distantly hinted at. This aspect of stigma makes it pervasive and less noticeable to the common observer unless the person was looking for the specific information on the biases ('Corrigendum: Identification of an Obese Eating Style in 4-year-old Children Born at High and Low Risk for Obesity', 2010).
Weight stigma and bias is the collection of the negative attitudes directed towards the people that have more than normal weight. Stigma and bias affect the interpersonal interactions and other activities in a negative manner. Stigma could take different forms such as verbal forms, which are direct; jibes directed towards the obese person. The jibes often have mean references and affect the personal view of himself. Verbal stigma includes the ridiculing, stereotyping, insulting and teasing. Other pejorative language also constitutes the negative perceptions. Stigma could also be in physical form such as touching, and other aggressive behavior. Sigma could be indirect such that the equipment and other public amenities are not designed to accommodate the plus size of the users (Decelis, Fox & Jago, 2013). For instance, the medical equipment could be designed in a way it accommodates only the normal sized individuals and not the obese. In this case, the individuals with obesity find themselves feeling left out.
In other cases, they are forced to pay for some amenities twice in order to fit in. Such as the requirement by the airlines to the plus sized people to buy to air tickets in order to fit. The treatment accorded to the individuals is a source of stigma for as much as the treatment is logically explainable (Decelis, Fox & Jago, 2013). They may also find themselves looking for their clothes in all stores and not find them. Omnipresent media stereotypes on the definition of beauty often lead to the psychological torture whereby the obese individuals have to accept that they are not beautiful; at least not in the popular way. The presentation of the perceived beauty often leads to the acceleration of the feelings of inadequacy, which may develop, into antisocial behavior.
Stigma could take place in different settings according to the range of individuals. For instance, in the work environment, the obese people face stigma from different sources. For instance, they may be less likely to be hired than the other normal sized individuals may. Rating of the obese applicant negatively does not work according to their ability. The system often rules out the person out regardless of what he or she is capable of doing. The obese employees are also accorded negative stereotypes such as they are purported to be lazy and less motivated compared to their counterparts that are normal sized. The society uses this stereotype for the employees even if they have a record of accomplishment of excellence.
In some cases, the obese and overweight employees suffer from pay penalties whereby their organizations often pay them less for the same work done by the normal size employees. In the school setting, the overweight and obese students often face the harassment and constant ridicule from their age-mates. There is also a risk that the obese students will receive negative attitudes from the teachers and other educators. This means that the society does not accommodate people with weight issues. In the college entry levels, the female students with obese tendencies often find themselves excluded from joining the colleges despite their accurate qualification.
The medical professionals are also biased against the obese patients seeking their attention. In most situations, the medical professionals find themselves associating their health issues to the obesity even when they are not directly linked. This stigmatization affects the confidence levels exuded by the patients as well as their relations with the rest of the students. It also increases the tendency of reclusive behavior targeted whereby they could retreat to their safety zones. The obese children find themselves working in the exclusion as a matter of choice and societal dislike. Stigma could lead to the exacerbation of the illness hence the increment in the morbidity of the obese.
Children are among the worst affected by stigma. They are specifically affected by the negative effects of bias. The negative perceptions towards the obese children start at an early age. In some cases, they are victims of stigmatization at the tender age of 3 years in the playgrounds. The children purport that the obese peers are mean, lazy, ugly and stupid. This perception often affects the self-esteem levels exuded by the children. The tender age at which the teasing starts is often a cause for a constant failure of the system. Peers are often responsible for the development and use of derogatory terms. The school setting is a major location for the development of the stigma towards the obese children. This social interaction experience could affect the perspective of the child of other people. It affects the development of the emotional intelligence in the child hence the exclusive and antisocial tendencies.
In the event, that the children lose weight, their self-esteem rarely recovers from the scars of the social torture that they underwent during their formative years. In the worst-case scenario, the teasing of the obese often leads to depression more so among the teenagers. This treatment leads to the development of suicidal tendencies that would actualize in the event that they are not treated. Social isolation of the teenagers could activate the psychotic tendencies and lead to the development of an array of different undesired behavior, which eventually harms the ordered way of life.
There are striking differences in the societal approach to obesity compared to other child safety measures. The society has embraced the need for the development of safety measures to protect the children against the hazards that they are exposed to. For instance, the society puts disclaimers on the materials that pose the danger to the children such as the polyethylene bags and other toys that could be swallowed. It also places strain on some measures meant to protect the children from the risk of exposure such as the correct use of toys.
The parents are even educated on how to train their older children on sing some toys. In the case of bicycles, the parents are required by law to ensure that the children have the necessary protective materials such as the helmets and kneecap protection. From the above examples, it is evident that the society has an instrumental role in the protection of the children against some of the dangers that they are exposed to. It executes this duty in the correct manner with the majority of the states placing much emphasis on some of the regulations protecting the children. However, when it comes to the issue of obesity, it does not indicate the same level of high enthusiasm. The same level of cooperation among the players in the society to protect children from the dangers that they are exposed to does not manifest in the case of obesity since the society assumes that the issue of obesity is a responsibility of the parent and the individual.
The issue was affecting the development of the comprehensive strategy to combat obesity is based on the behavior of the obese individual. The obesity treatment for the adults comprises of the behavioral and medical interventions. The obese children receive the same treatment approach. In some cases, the schools mail letter to the parents with the aim of alerting them about the health status of their children. The underlying message in this gesture is that the parent is responsible for the health status of their children. This is why the schools do not write to the companies that display the unhealthy foods as classy and attractive. They judge the advertisement companies differently an in isolation. In fact, they rarely judge the advertisement company since the parent is assumed to be in controls of the food that their children take.
The approach given to other environmental risks also has to be employed in the protection of the children and other obese individuals from the trap. The societal response to the issue of obesity is indicative of the double standards that pervade the institutions. The society is rife of eating. On the other hand, there is a strong stigma basis against the children and other adults that have obesity (Papadimitriou, Gousi, Giannouli & Nicolaidou, 2006). Simply put, the culture sends out two messages of a contradictory nature. On one hand, it exemplifies eating. On the other hand, it sends a strong signal against being fat.
The contradictory messages are sent by the media and the popular culture. However, the society does not accommodate the people that are obese. In the worst-case scenario, it does not accommodate the people with genetic predispositions for obesity. This means that the judgment of the people with obesity is the same regardless of the cause or the underlying explanation of the development of the condition.
The society and popular media is occupied by food products. The new food products are introduced into the market every time. The desire to try out the products increases with the increased introduction of new variants. The new products are advertised to expose the customer to the new tastes and liking that it brings in the market. Little focus is made on the adverse effects of the products (Koplan, Liverman & Kraak, 2005). The messages on how to feed the children only come into play during the pregnancy. During this period, there is a consistent message on how the parents ought to feed their child when he or she is born.
There is a constant and concerted effort to ensure that the health of the unborn child is maintained. The society even judges the person that put the unborn child in a danger of smoking or taking alcohol or eating some of the food (Kiess, Marcus & Wabitsch, 2004). This approach means that the society accepts its role in the protection of the child against any danger that she is exposed to. This means that the society is focused on the development of means of protecting the life in that stage (Papadimitriou, Gousi, Giannouli & Nicolaidou, 2006). When the children are young, there is a concerted effort to ensure that they have the best care. In fact, there is an increase in the advocacy for breastfeeding as opposed to use of formula. Organic foods meant for the young babies are on the rise with the promotion of the health benefits that the foods accord the child topping the list. However, after the child is a toddler, the role of protection shifts from the society to the parents.
The messages about the food products that are ideal for the children change after the child attains the age of 2 years. The emphasis on the quality of the ingredients and their associated safety wanes and is pushed to the background. The emphasis on the nutritional information no longer counts. The children are lumped in the group of potential customers, and their safety is no longer paramount (Koplan, Liverman & Kraak, 2005). Because of the information deluge on all the good foods that the parents can give their children, they are often swamped, and they settle for the one with the highest votes. The criteria of safety no longer count. The marketing strategy of informing the children about the products is to create a preference for certain products over the others.
The children are exposed to sweet foods, candy, fast food and soda at an early formative age such that they are sure of what they want at the tender preschool age (Kiess, Marcus & Wabitsch, 2004). They develop a liking for a certain product such that their preferences will be based on the product. For the marketing companies and the food producers, it is a good day for their sales since they have finally managed to recruit another loyal customer. The loyalty of the customer is more important to the companies than his or her health (Higgins, Gower, Hunter & Goran, 2001). The fact that a child has a liking for a certain product over the other makes him or her the target for future campaigns. The underlying goal of the campaigns is to increase the level of income that they enjoy. Health and safety of the children often take the back seat leading to loss of focus on the main goal that the food making companies started with during their advertisement of the baby foods.
Behavior of the companies indicates corporate dishonesty and clamor for profits. The ethical concerns of the safety of the child and the fitness for purpose of the foods are irrelevant with the companies focusing on the next dollar in (Kiess, Marcus & Wabitsch, 2004). The behavior is immoral and unacceptable to the majority of the researchers of the products viability focusing on the extent of the control that the companies have the customer base (Kiess, Marcus & Wabitsch, 2004). The tradition of selling the products with the main and sole aim being profiteering has led to the development of obesity tendencies (Papadimitriou, Gousi, Giannouli & Nicolaidou, 2006). The reservation of the oversight role of the parents and guardians lead to the development of the notion that the society does not care for the health of the people. The early beginning of the advertisements seeking to trap the children is the foundation of the obesity issue.
The government has a duty to protect the people from the exposure to the capitalist greed that increases the risk exposure to the citizen. By the time the children have attained the age of 8 years, most of them often deal with issues that emanate from their unhealthy habits. Marketing puffery endorsed by the companies often exemplifies the benefits of the product while downplaying the risk exposure that it accords all users (Koplan, Liverman & Kraak, 2005). Therefore, the government has a role in ensuring that the children receive the needed care. The companies also have the ethical responsibility of protecting the citizens against exposure to products that have detrimental effects on their well-being (Morgan, 2013).
The argument proposed by the authors are valid and based on the real life observations. The majority of the obese people can trace their conditions back to the upbringing and the exposure that they were brought up in. The genetic aspect of obesity does not manifest in most of the situations since the majority of the people can attribute their obesity to their environment and the modes of advertising adopted by the companies promoting the particular products (Kiess, Marcus & Wabitsch, 2004).
In the podcast, the interviewees indicate that their conditions are attributed to the constant advertisement of the products on their television and banners. They refer to the glamour that the adverts accord to the products such that they make them appear to be good and harmless. They also not the trend in the advertisement whereby the children from the walking stage to the adolescence have some adverts that are particularly designed for them (Koplan, Liverman & Kraak, 2005). They noted the use of the lifestyle advertising as the main captivating aspects of the adverts. They also identify the persistence of the different companies in advertising their unhealthy food products to coincide with a fad.
In the case of the cola companies, there is a tradition of advertising how taking their brands with meals lead to the best satisfaction (Higgins, Gower, Hunter & Goran, 2001). The proposal on the effect of the products on their health is often placed in the obscure areas of the packaging materials. The marketing companies ensure that the print indicating the adverse health effects of using the products is hidden and illegible. In the event, that there are explicit government regulations demanding a certain way of branding the packaging materials, the companies resort to using of jargon (Morgan, 2013). This practice is immoral since it is tantamount to selling a product to the consumer without explaining to him or her the real effects of the products.
Academic knowledge of the demerits and the underlying causes of the condition is a major source of insight into the ways of combating the social issue. The knowledge of the actual causes of obesity will lead to the understanding of the products that lead to the condition. For instance, the knowledge on the sugars will increase the level of understanding of the communities both at the local and international levels (Higgins, Gower, Hunter & Goran, 2001). The companies spreading the conditions through their global sales will be forced to meet the requirements of openness and clarity in terms of the ingredients and negative effects of the product.
Active citizenship is the process of advocating rights that all the people are entitled to using the masses as the main bargaining power. Active citizenship is a tool for effecting change in the society and the rest of the community at large. Active citizenship is based on the synergistic agitation for the rights of the citizenry. In the case of obesity, the active citizenship is a viable approach that the people can use to ensure that there is the change in the way that the society treats the obese people. More importantly, the approach ought to address the main reasons behind the development of the condition. The interventions should address the issue of the companies that advertise their products by painting them in the light that is far fetched from the reality. It will increase the clamor for the removal of dishonest and misleading adverts targeting the children and the youth (Scherer, 2011). These forms of advertisement could be removed or changed to reflect the real aspects of the products.
Targeting of children also has to be addressed since the choices that they make will be based purely on the impressions created by the products. Adverts for children food products ought to be done in moderation since the current approach to the advertisement uses the gullibility of the children against them and hooks them to the unhealthy food products (Reilly, 2007). Active citizenry can influence the adverts for the products such that the locus of focus not only centers on the child but the parent who has better decision-making advantage compared to the child (Whitacre, 2009). The current adverts make the child assume that he or she has the power over the purchasing while in the real sense the money comes from the parent (Reilly, 2010).
Active citizenry could also increase the information that the public has as far as the consumption of a certain product is concerned such that customers have an advantage over the products that they would be consuming. The involvement of the active citizenry approach will be instrumental in the attainment of the overall goal of dealing with the constant issues of obesity. Active citizenry can also be used to reshape the minds of the people towards the obese members of the society. The first step in the reconfiguration is the reduction of the stigma. This ought to be the most immediate move that the active citizenry should take. The negative attitudes toward children start with the peers and adults in their immediate environment.
The stigma reduction should start with the adults that spend time with the children (Reilly, 2010). The adults could be the guardians and teachers (Zeller & Modi, 2009). The change of the negative perception and the accommodation of the children with the condition by the adults will be the foundation for the reduction of the negative perception by the teachers (Reilly, 2007). Education of the participants about the unavoidable causes of the obesity will also help in the reduction of the strain on the children and teenagers. It will also encourage the society to be more accommodate to the people suffering from the condition. Education can lead to the reduction of the level of stigma directed towards the obese.
The application of active citizenry helps in the identification of the cause of obesity that is outside the control of the children. Identification of these causes leads to the development of the best approach to dealing with this issues. Genetically causes of obesity could be identified and used to configure the lifestyle of the affected person accordingly (Reilly, 2010). Education of the public on such predisposing factors will affect the perception towards the obese.
Active citizenry can advocate better life practices that will reduce the risk of the children getting the condition. There could be advocacy campaigns for the development of activities that encourage the children to move and work out. This will discourage the sedentary life that the children could be accustomed to in their homes (Reilly, 2007). Compulsory games in the schools could be used to ensure that the children exercise and reduce the risk of being obese. The advocacy foe better life practices could extend to the school feeding programs and dispenser machines allowed in the school grounds.
Corrigendum: Identification of an Obese Eating Style in 4-year-old Children Born at High and Low Risk for Obesity. (2010). Obesity, 18(3), 648-648.
Decelis, A., Fox, K., & Jago, R. (2013). Prevalence of obesity among 10-11-year-old Maltese children using four established standards. Pediatric Obesity, 8(5), e54-e58.
Higgins, P., Gower, B., Hunter, G., & Goran, M. (2001). Defining Health-Related Obesity in Prepubertal Children. Obesity, 9(4), 233-240.
Kiess, W., Marcus, C., & Wabitsch, M. (2004). Obesity in childhood and adolescence. Basel: Karger.
Koplan, J., Liverman, C., & Kraak, V. (2005). Preventing childhood obesity. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.
Morgan, R. (2013). Does the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup beverages cause obesity in children?. Pediatric Obesity, 8(4), 249-254.
Papadimitriou, A., Gousi, T., Giannouli, O., & Nicolaidou, P. (2006). The Growth of Children in Relation to the Timing of Obesity Development*. Obesity, 14(12), 2173-2176.
Reilly, J. (2007). Childhood Obesity: An Overview. Children & Society, 21(5), 390-396. doi:10.1111/j.1099-0860.2007.00092.x
Reilly, J. (2010). Evidence-based obesity prevention in children. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 4, S87.
Scherer, L. (2011). Obesity. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
Whitacre, P. (2009). Community perspectives on obesity prevention in children. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.
Zeller, M., & Modi, A. (2009). Development and Initial Validation of an Obesity-specific Quality-of-life Measure for Children: Sizing Me Up. Obesity.
Childhood obesity is an urgent and risking public health threat. Over the last decade, obesity rates among children had significantly increased, and the rates are alarming. In the current US society, 33 percent of children and teens are obese. The overweight conditions increase their risks of suffering from life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. Research on childhood obesity reveals that students consume high levels of calories whereas taking fewer nutrients in their daily diet. Surprisingly, schools environments present high fats intake. Foods and beverages sold out in food outlets in schools contain high calories and have low nutrient levels (Wade, 2011).
Selling of these foods to students in schools often contributes to the prevalence of obese conditions in students. Similarly, it enhances a perception to students that good nutrition is not important. In contrast, what they eat while in schools, in fact, influence their long-term health and overall well-being. Obviously, schools food outlets will not make losses by selling healthy foods to students (Wade, 2011). Despite the strong set standards for snack foods and beverages, school managers fail while implementing these standards leading to the increased high-calorie food sale.
In addition to the dietary factors that accelerate cases of obesity among students, some biological factors as well contribute to the condition. Normally, the condition has a relation on the genetic make-up of the student. Students with relatives with overweight conditions develop high risks of developing similar patterns (Barbour, 2011). The process of inheriting obese traits in a family is a complex process and involves multiple genes. However, the degree of these genes activity in human relies on dietary and environmental factors.
On the other hand, school environment highly contributes to the prevalent obese conditions among students. The degree of student’s obese condition accelerates based on the foods provided by school managements and as well in their home environments. Normally, fast foods exist in large quantities in student’s environment. Packaging of these foods often exceeds the minimum calorie recommendations. Similarly, society demands, characterized by high-energy intakes and expenditure imbalance is accelerating obese conditions. Thus, it is essential for school heads to take exemplary cautions while managing food contents taken by students while in schools (Barbour, 2011).
Based on a school scenario engaging my daughter in the local district school, school managements are to blame for the accelerating overweight conditions. Despite the continued campaign against high-calorie foods in schools, the school continues offering high-fat content foods. Lastly, the school gave students fries and pizzas for their lunch. These foods are very unhealthy to students. The scenario clearly displays the insignificance of the schools’ foods and beverages standards. Despite these foods being appealing to the students, the management ought to differentiate healthy from unhealthy foods.
The situation brought massive frustrations since my daughter was fighting against a humiliating situation with her peers. Often, her peers teased her based on her size stating that she could not fit in her skinny jeans, and she had a fat stomach. As an indication, while the school offered these fatty foods to the students, they increased the risks of being overweight thus worsening her condition. While her friends teased her on her stomach size, she faced moments of humiliation that affected her self-esteem. District school management does not pay significant attention to diet matters of the students. Conversely, their neglect on of the food standards has contributed to the burst out frustration emotions in the family.
Establishing the above grievances will aid while responding to the overweight conditions in district schools. I hope the management consider my allegations and improves the nutritional environment in the district school. Thank you for you in advance for your consideration for the matter.
Wade, C., & Tavris, C. (2011). Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Barbour, S. (2011). Obesity. farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
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