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Contrary to the common approach to other problems facing the health of the children, obesity is taken to be a responsibility of the parents in America. This pressure is present in the context of the stigma that the society places on the overweight children and the strong appeals to the children and parents alike to take nutritionally poor food (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 496). The parents of the overweight children have a precarious position where they have to worry about the image of their children in the social places. The health of the children is also an issue that makes the parents to develop various worries. The fight against obesity often feels like a losing battle to most of the parents and the children. This hopelessness comes from the omnipotent presence of information relating to the poor foods.
In a society that places a lot of emphasis on the how normal it is to take the fatty food, the obesity levels are not alarming. The society has almost failed in taking care of the problem that faces it. The medical profession has just shown a halfhearted approach to the campaign aimed at reducing the progress of the status. The parents have also failed to regulate the food that their children take while some of them are not even aware of the food. The problem of the affordability of high quality food to all the people is a major deterrent to the poor people that would love to maintain a healthy eating regimen. The attitudes of the people towards the food that they take come from the first setting that they face.
This setting is the home and the behaviors cultivated at home have some lasting effect on the person. Therefore, even as the rest of the society shoulders the blame for propagating unhealthy food practices, the family and specifically the parents are the ones to blame (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 496). The paper seeks to impart the anticipating parents with the necessary information and techniques that they can apply in ensuring that the environment that they expose their children to are conducive enough to discourage the lifestyle that leads to the development of obesity in children. The paper will look at the different approaches that the parents can take in order to reduce the obesity in their children as proposed by various literature. It will present the parents with the information that the parents can use in helping their children develop healthy eating habit even in the face of both learnt and biological food preferences.
The underlying problem in the treatment of obesity is the attitude that the people give it. Some of the people are of the opinion that obesity is more of a choice than a disease. They hold on to the misleading conception even in the light of the scientific study that proves that the condition has more to it than the choices that the people take. Other resign to the fact that the assumption that their obesity is because of the genetically predomination. In as much as the genetic predisposition a person makes him or her more susceptible to being obese than any other person that does not have the predisposition, the argument is used as an excuse for the people that may not necessarily have the obesity genotype (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 496).
The obesity treatment on adults involves behavioral changes and medical interventions that are aimed at ensuring that the person reduces the weight. The approach taken to the children with the condition is also the same and it targets both the child and the family. This means that the medical professional also have the opinion that the treatment regimens that they give cannot work in the event that the parents do not display the willpower to affect their recommendations. Some of the schools have also made the resolution of sending letters to the parents of the children that are overweight. This is an amplification of the attitude that the parents have the role to play in creating a stable environment that does not encourage the development of the unhealthy eating habits even in the face of the alluring adverts.
The paper is of the opinion that the society ought to take a responsibility in coming up with a solutions on this health crisis. They ought to approach it with the attention that they give to the rest of the environmental risks facing the healthy children. The paper will provide a link between the other players in the society in the development of the condition in children and adolescents (Grim & Steinle 52-55).
The culture that the children face has a lot of food and eating. At the same time, there is a lot of stigma from the same society that aims at the obese individuals (Wiley 97-128). Unfortunately, the children are also victims of the stigma. To put the issue in a different way, the modern society sends two counterproductive messages. On one instance, the society states that it is good to eat. One the other hand, it claims that being fat is a bad thing. This is the reason behind the influx of gyms and fitness trainers as well as eating-places. The contradictory messages sent by all the players in play may lead to confusion in the society. In fact, it has led to the development of a particular group of people in the society that are overly conscious of the health and the weight that they have. On the other hand, a group of people believes that there cannot be something wrong in eating. These two groups cannot be married. They are so distant yet they have the same source of the convictions that they hold about their weight and eating habits.
The paper will also provide insight on how the children end up forming their food preferences (Wiley 97-128). The challenges that the parents face in the toxic food environment will also be examined as a source of the increased obesity in children. The paper will focus on the role that the parents play in filtering the messages that their children access as far as the food that they can take is concerned. The look will prove that the solution of the obesity problem rests in the interventions made by the society as a whole and not the responsibility of the parents alone. However, the information in the paper is not indicative that the parents are completely absolved from the responsibility of ensuring that their children develop the best eating habits
In order to develop the basis of the discussion, it is important to look at the societal messages about the food taken by the children. In the United States of America, there are thousands of food products that are introduced annually. This has been the reason behind the increased desire in the people for the new products.
The society has some consistent messages that tell the parents on how to feed the children. The bulk of the messages place their focus on how to feed the children prior to the birth of the child. The messages are succinct and they warm the parents against feeding the children with any foods that are harmful to the health of the unborn child (Wiley 97-128). People go to the extent of developing guidebooks on the best foods that the parents should feed their children. The messages on how to feed infants are also unmistaken. The messages at this age are on imparting the parents with the knowledge on how to feed their children with the best foods that have the most secure nutritional facts (Grim & Steinle 52-55). This drive is not sustained through to when the child attains the school going age to the adolescence.
When a child attains the age of two years there is a remarkable change in the food advertisement messages. Instead of addressing the nutritional values of the food that the children take, the children change into targets for adverts that are all but healthy. The children face over 10000 food adverts of which 95 percent is made up of fast foods, candy soft drinks and sugared oatmeal. By the time the child gets to preschool, they end up developing food preferences. The advertisers place the cereal boxes at the sight of the children since they know that the toddlers have their desired tastes in cereal and other food. The society affirms this practice.
In fact, in most of the societies, the reward for good behavior to a child is done by issuing them with candy. In fact, most of the psychologists agree with the practice explicitly for behavioral change such as not wetting the bed. Food is well advertised and the children are the focus of the advertisement campaigns. By 1997, the food industry was the second largest advertiser. The media of choice used by the advertisement campaign is the television. This is not a coincidence since most of the viewers of TV are the children. This is the best approach since it can get to the parents as well as the child. If the advert misses the parent, the child will be ready to ask for the product in the stores from the comfort of the stroller.
The amount of dollars spent on advertising the highly processed food is many times than the ones used in advertising vegetables. According to the United States marketing statistics, the highly processed food companies spend more around seven times more than their vegetable selling companies (Grim & Steinle 52-55).
As the children progress into the elementary and middle school the messages sent by the society on non-nutritive foods become prevalent as well as confusing. Candy and sweet things are made to represent the holidays and parties. The channels that are dedicated to the adolescents and children have a different sort of an advertising rationale where they target the children with the foods that they can afford such as soft drinks and a candy (Wiley 97-128). In as much as the children have nutrition lessons; they are insignificant compared to the torrent of adverts that preach a different gospel from their nutrition teacher.
The adverts that place their focus on the parents are as unforgiving as the ones targeting the children. The adverts are based on the fallacy that allowing a child to have high calories sweet foods is an evidence of the extent of love that a parent has to the child. They also make the parents and the caretakers have the opinion that they are providing their children with the best childhood experience that they can afford. The special treats given by the parents to the children are inexpensive and convenient ways for the parents to please their children. Obviously, this is an advertising gimmick played by the business people (Wiley 97-128). Other ways of showing the children love and attention do not involve the placement of the health of the child in danger. The adverts aimed at both the children and parents that aim at promoting the unhealthy foods are means of propagating the obesity epidemic in the children. However, the brains behind the adverts look at the value that they create for the companies and not the major problem that they cause the families (Grim & Steinle 52-55).
The issues that compound the nightmare of obesity among the children does not end with the advertisements. Many societal influences face the parents and children alike messaged on obesity. In most of the cases, the parents are confused on how to handle the situations that arise from the obesity of their children. The society warns the parents on allowing their children to become obese (Reilly 128-133). The same society warns the parents on broaching the subject to their children in certain ways. This mixed communication from the society on obesity leads to more confusion than it brings solutions. The medical journals are also under the impression that the two issues of obesity and handling it are related.
Some of the journals claim that the pain that the parents and their children go to cure obesity is sometimes worse than the condition itself. This double speak may be read in different ways (Wiley 97-128). One person may interpret that obesity is not a bad condition after all since some of the medical professionals have that opinion. Others may believe that the loss of weight is the only way that they have that they can use to redeem their personal image. In a situation where all the stands about obesity are acceptable, the chances of the people wishing to brave the condition in the toxic environment are bound to face many contradictory signs. This mixed reaction to obesity even by the medical fraternity is the reason behind the increased obesity among the children and teenagers. Coming up with the best solution to the problem is not as direct as changing the personal eating programs. The environment that one lives in may encourage or discourage the attainment of a healthy society (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 496).
The parents are left to feed their children with the healthy foods according to their wisdom. They have to attain the healthy feeding habits for their children even in the toxic environment and culture that promotes the intake of poor foods. However, the parents are vulnerable to the pressures that come from the same society just like every other person. The parents have the constant reminders of how they should show their children love by giving them sweets while at the same time they are given subtle and explicit warnings that they should not let their children get fat (Wiley 97-128).
It is clear that the prints want to promote the development of healthy eating habits among their children. However, their god intentions meet the first challenge that is that they children have biologically driven preferences for the foods that they take. The transition from suckling to eating proper food begins after the first six months of life. This transition is important since it leads to the development of the foundation of the dietary habits of the children all through their lives (Purcell 433-446).
The other challenge that the parents face is the environmental and biological predisposition to like of sweet and salty foods (Reilly 128-133). This is a clash between the biology and environment. The children grow to love or hate some foods. They are inherently against sour and bitter foods. The parents have the difficult role of asking their children to exercise control when taking foods full of sugar and sodium. This could be easy if the parents were able to provide their children with foods prepared with the least use of salt and sugar. However, the society is full of these foods (Wiley 97-128). The foods are also heavily promoted outside the home context. This presents the parents with an enormous battle that they must face in order for them to attain good dietary habits for their children.
There is encouraging evidence that points out that when the children have the constant exposure to healthy foods they eventually learn to like them. Study indicates that the children can acquire preferences on the foods that they take by being exposed to the novel foods. The preference developed no matter whether the food was salty, sweet or plain. This study has some implication on those that make children food that is restaurants, schools or parents (Wiley 97-128).
The other issue that faces most of the parents is the reluctance that the children have towards accepting new foods. This is a possible source of bad eating habits since the children are very likely to continue with the food that they have been eating all along their loves. The change of diet is the most difficult thing to achieve in children. Therefore, the assumptions made by the parents that have children with poor eating habits are misguided (Wiley 97-128). Claiming that the children will be able to change from poor dietary habits to healthy ones all of a sudden is a lies that makes most of the parents have a misguided notion on the best practices as far as eating goes. Therefore, the wise parents start regulating their children eating habits right from the start. They regulate the exposure to processed food adverts too (Grim & Steinle 52-55). They have to indicate high levels of resilience to the temptations of rewarding behavior by offering sweet food presents. The food influences in children also come from the associative learning.
Children learn how to accept or reject any introduction of new foods. The criteria applied by the children in accepting the foods are by use of taste and the anticipated outcome of taking the foods. The more the child is exposed to new and unfamiliar food, the more the chances that he or she will have reduced fear of the new things (Reilly 128-133). Parents can use this information to make sure that their children have the anticipated feeding habits. However, in order for the parents to reduce the need of the children to take unhealthy foods, they must expose them to the new food varieties on a regular basis while withdrawing the access to the conventional bad food. This management of the microenvironment will lead to the formation of the best dietary habits that will be effective in reducing the instances of obesity in the society.
The research conducted by various teachers indicates that the parents can have a significant impact on the children by modeling the required behavior. Modeling is an important approach to the adoption of right feeding behavior among all the children. Children learn through role playing and aping (Purcell 433-446). Creation of a scenario that allows the children develop the right attitude towards novel foods is key to imparting the notion that the foods are not bad at all. The option of offering rewards to children is also applicable in the case of modeling only that the parent or the teacher does not use the unhealthy foods to reward good behavior. In place of the candies and chocolates, the parent or caretaker can use the novel foods such as dessert to reward good behavior in the children.
The children will take what they are exposed to on a daily basis. If the teacher keeps, many novel foods instead of the common junk food may create the impression in the children that the food is good. The parent or teacher ought to allow the children the chance to try the novel food often. The exposure and the chance to try the foods are most likely going to influence the behavior of the children in a positive manner such that they will end up taking the new dietary habits. The most effective way of modeling the desired behavior in children is by offering the novel foods as a way of rewarding good behavior (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 501).
This means that the novel food can replace the conventional practice of offering the children unhealthy sugary foods (Purcell 433-446). However, some of the researchers warn that use of foods in the context of rewards and punishment leads to the development of hatred for the foods. This may lead to rebellion towards the novel foods. Modeling the best eating behavior by use of peers is more effective than when the teacher models the behavior. The children will take after their peers willingly than they can take after the teacher. The practices outlined in this paragraph can affect the feeding behaviors of the child in a positive way. The applicability of the practices proves that the environment has a major role to play in the development of the correct eating habits.
The other problem with the environment that leads to the development of obesity in children is the constant availability of the unhealthy foods to the children (Wiley 97-128). The children have the innate preference for the foods that are rich in salt and sugar. They have to eat the energy dense foods for their high-energy needs (Heitmann et al., 910-922). This makes them to display some level of reluctance towards the foods that are novel in nature. They prefer the foods that will give them energy in a short while. These foods are also too concentrated with the energy that the extra energy ends up being converted into fat. This turn of events leads to the eventual development of obesity in the children.
However, the innate desire in children for the foods with high energy does not work alone (Purcell 433-446). Constant exposure of the child to the foods compounds the innate preference for the foods. The association of the foods with the social situations leads to the increased desire of the foods. Various research conducted in the most preferred foods in the top restaurants in the united states indicates that the children have a high preference for foods that are rich in sugar and fat such as chicken nuggets and hamburgers (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 498). The restaurants use the constant exposure of the foods to the children as a way of making them eat them. The first trials of the foods lead to the acquisition of a habit of taking them. The predisposition of the children to high-energy foods is a weakness that the marketers exploit in children that eventually leads to the development of obesity. The permission of the fats food vendors to put their establishments in the locations surrounding the schools and social parks makes the restricted eating habits at home useless against the fight for the right eating habits (Reilly 128-133).
The environmental challenges that make the children develop high food preferences for the fatty and unhealthy foods make most of the parents to develop the desire to regulate the foods that their children take (Heitmann et al., 910-922). However, as pointed out earlier, the power of the parent over the foods taken by the children only goes as far as the home (Basic at al., 399). There are other places where the children can find the unhealthy foods apart from their homes. This situation leads to hopelessness for the concerned parents. The solution to the other places where the children have exposure to unhealthy foods may come from the ability of the children to regulate their feeding habits.
Some of the studies state that the children may be trusted to self-regulate their intake in some circumstances (Grim & Steinle 52-55). This happens in the situations where the parent is absent. Studies conducted in 1930s indicated that there was a possibility of the children to regulate their intake of nutritious foods even in the absence of the parental supervision. However, the children will eat even when they are not hungry if there is some exposure to palatable food. The ability of the children to self-regulate should be a top consideration for the administrators in the schools on whether they should leave out the soft drink vending machines and candy machines. The information on self-regulation is also important to the parents as they make decisions on whether they should allow the fatty foods into the family (Purcell 433-446).
The parents pose another worrying trend for their children. In some cases there are reports indicating that the parents do all that they can in order to encourage their children to eat? Rewarding eating is not the right avenues that the parents should follow (Heitmann et al., 910-922). Parents that force their children to take all the food that they are served with increase the chances of the children failing in the self-regulation of the energy that they take in. feeding of the children should be in an environment that does not encourage the completion of the servings even after they are full. Less controlled or strict eating environment may encourage the children to eat according to their energy levels (Reilly 128-133)
When the parents encourage the children to take all the food that they have in a single serving, they end up forming an eating habit that does not allow them to have the flexibility that they deserve. The chances of the constrained feeding environment leading to the formation of binge eating habits is increased in the instances where the parents force their children to take all that they have in a single serving (Haberstick & Lesssern et al., 503). Therefore, the free environment as far as the size and number of potions that the child should take leads to mastery of the energy levels demanded by the child. This mastery is very critical in coming up with a healthy population as well as reducing the instances of obesity and binge eating and other eating disorders.
The attempts made by the parents to restrict the access of the children to unhealthy foods are prone to lead to rebounds when the control is lifted for a while. The maternal protection of the children and what they eat leads to the maximization of the opportunities that avail themselves (Reilly 128-133). This phenomenon is common among the girls. The mothers that try to restrict the food that their daughters take are most likely trying to prevent the recurrence of their life experiences on the daughters.
The environment that the mothers try to create is short-lived and when there is no control, the daughters resume taking the foods with an abandon (Heitmann et al., 910-922). If there are a couple of free moments when the daughters can indulge in the restricted foods, the calories intake is so much that they may end up eroding the gains made by the institution of a controlled environment (Purcell 433-446). However, the only way of ensuring that the control instituted by the parents works is changing the basis of the restriction and starting with an amicable agreement on the gains of the exercise. This increases the resistance displayed by the daughters to temptations to indulge in the novel foods.
The advancement made in technology fields have been sources of revolution in the ways that man carries out his activities. Some of the effects of the advancements are positive while other is negative. Technology has its role in the increase of obesity. One of the traditional influences of technology on the lifestyle of the people is the television (Must & Strauss 2). Most of the young people spend their time watching television at home (Purcell 433-446).
The many hours spent watching television compounded by the poor dietary habits that are common to most of the children leads to the formation of obesity tendencies (Gollust & Neiderdeppe et al., 98). The natural predisposition in the children to take foods that are rich in sugar, fats and salt comes from the tendency of the children to be hyperactive active. The level of activity is highly hindered by the sedentary lifestyle that most of the children lead.
The other impact is the common tendency of the children to take a backseat role in the chores carried out in at their homes (Reilly 128-133). The traditional sense allowed the children to work alongside their parents in the fields or simply running errands. This role is none existent in most of the urban areas. The children are left idle and they may start eating the junk out of boredom. The lack of physical activity makes the children develop overweight tendencies. Most of the children prefer and video games as opposed to the track activities such running or even football. Cycling is also no longer appealing to the children (Purcell 433-446). The exposure of the children to an environment that does not allow them to exercise is a contributing factor to the development of childhood obesity.
The built world may also contribute to the development of obesity. There is a tendency towards living in apartments. The lifestyle means that the children will never have a chance to play outdoors since they are limited to their apartment. This leaves them with the option of playing indoor and less physically involving games. The regulations in construction do not define the amenities that the built environment should have. If the society imposed, some rules on creation of a residential environment that allows the children to play, it may be a significant step in controlling the sedentary life effects on the development of obesity (Reilly 128-133).
In conclusion, the issue of obesity originates from the environmental factors as well as genetically motivated factors. The obesity genotype is not adequate to cause the children to develop the condition. The genotype is compounded by the environmental factors. The solution to the issue lies in the ability of the people to form concerted efforts towards preventing the factors that increase the chances of the condition. The locus of responsibility ought to shift from the individuals i.e. parents and the obese children, to the environment. The parents can try enough but the enticing factors in the environment can erode the gains made by the individual efforts in an instance (Wiley 97-128). The attitudes of the society also have to shift in order for the environment to be conducive for adoption of novel foods.
Bašić, Martina, et al. "Obesity: Genome and Environment Interactions. / Pretilost - Međudjelovanje Genoma I Okoline." Archives Of Industrial Hygiene & Toxicology / Arhiv Za Higijenu Rada I Toksikologiju 63.3 (2012): 395-405. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
Gollust, Sarah E., Jeff Niederdeppe, and Colleen L. Barry. "Framing the Consequences Of Childhood Obesity To Increase Public Support For Obesity Prevention Policy." American Journal Of Public Health 103.11 (2013): e96-e102. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
Grimm, Eleanor R., and Nanette I. Steinle. "Genetics Of Eating Behavior: Established and Emerging Concepts." Nutrition Reviews 69.1 (2011): 52-60. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
Haberstick, Brett C. Lessem, Jeffery M. McQueen, Matthew B. Boardman, Jason D. Hopfer, Christian J. Smolen, Andrew Hewitt, John K. "Stable Genes And Changing Environments: Body Mass Index Across Adolescence And Young Adulthood." Behavior Genetics 40.4 (2010): 495-504. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
Heitmann, B. L., et al. "Obesity: Lessons From Evolution and The Environment." Obesity Reviews 13.10 (2012): 910-922. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
Must, A, and R S Strauss. "Risks and Consequences Of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity." International Journal Of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders 23. (1999): s2. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Purcell, Megan. "Raising Healthy Children: Moral and Political Responsibility For Childhood Obesity." Journal Of Public Health Policy 31.4 (2010): 433-446. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Reilly, Phillip R. Is It In Your Genes? The Influence of Genes on Common Disorders and Diseases That Affect You and Your Family. Cold Spring Harbor: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2004. 128-33. Print.
Wiley, Lindsay F. "No Body Left Behind": Re-Orienting School-Based Childhood Obesity Interventions." Duke Forum For Law & Social Change (DFLSC) 5.(2013): 97-128. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Production of GMO foods is on the rise in most countries. Research shows that in some areas such as Argentina the production of GMO food has risen by double the amount within a very short period (Carolanne, 2014). This rise is alarming owing to the health issues that have been linked to production and consumption of GMO food. Clearly, GMO crops are not good for people as discussed below.
The ministry of health in Argentina released a report on the health state of people living in areas where there is intensive production of GMO foods. According to the report, there was a sharp increase in the number of cancer deaths in Cordoba, Argentina (Carolanne, 2014). The region is known for the growth of GM crops which are most likely consumed by the local inhabitants. An average cancer death of 158 per 100000 people was recorded not forgetting that some regions such as Pampa Gringa had higher rates of up to 216 people.
The increase in cancer deaths was as a result of overuse of pesticides while growing the crops. Apparently, a large proportion of the chemicals were retained in the crops up to the harvesting stage. This means that the people took in the chemical compounds inside the foods which increased their chances of developing cancerous cells (Taylor & Francis, 2009).
Additionally, GMO crops contain elements that could trigger genetic complications in the human body. Since the main purpose of GMO food is to increase productivity, some critical aspects have been left out. These aspects include the impact of the crops on the gene alignment in human body (Pusztai & Ewen, 2006). There are no clear explanations as to how the human body could react to the GMO foods. As a result, people are not sure what the consumption of genetically modified foods may yield in the future. Clearly, GMO foods are not good for people.
Carolanne,. W. (2014). Breaking: report finds cancer deaths have doubled in argentin’s GMO growing regions. PDF.
Pusztai,. A. & Ewen, .S.W. (2006). Genetically modified foods: potential human health effects.
Taylor & Francis. (2009).Health risks of genetically modified foods.
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