Childhood Obesity On The Rise

Over the next few weeks, “The Talon” will be releasing a series of stories regarding depression, anxiety, obesity, nutrition, sleeping habits, and time management. Sources were given the option to remain anonymous, as the topics are incredibly personal. Please be advised, some of the published stories may be disturbing to some readers.

By Jasmine Chen

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five children and adolescents are affected from obesity. Childhood obesity, referring to a medical condition in which a child is significantly overweight for his or her age and height, has increased throughout the past few years in the United States. Unlike many other medical conditions, it is self-diagnosable and self-treatable. However, it can lead to serious consequences if continued into adulthood. Therefore, it is very important to know how to prevent childhood obesity from occurring, and how to implement solutions if it has already happened.

Over the past few years, childhood obesity has increased throughout the United States. To reduce childhood obesity rates, education comes first. The causes of childhood obesity include “poor nutrition, inactivity, video games” among other things, according to Eric Ringdahl, Oak Hall physical education teacher and varsity girls basketball coach. “[A] lot of kids that are obese from the time when they are small, run a greater risk of getting diabetes…Self-esteem drops because they do get excluded from certain activities, certain running activities, certain games at school. They can get made fun of, even bullied,” Ringdahl said.

Besides having effects on a child’s mental health, childhood obesity also leads to a high risk of various diseases. “[If] it continues into adulthood…health factors are high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of cardiovascular disease, and we are also seeing an increase in child onset diabetes, also gastric reflux…usually from being overweight because your stomach’s bigger than normal, and some kids have breathing problems, then there’s excess weight on your joints,” Oak Hall Lower School Nurse, Mary O’Meara, explained. 

To prevent childhood obesity, it is important that we “limit the screen time that goes into children’s days, increase more PE time in schools, and introduce more healthy behaviors in the home,” O’Meara suggested. On the other hand, “controlling portion size” is also a significant factor. Eating too much is one of the main causes of gaining too much weight. In addition, what children eat every day plays a major role as well. Having healthy meals reduces the risk of being overweight. To help children who are already dealing with obesity to get rid of this medical condition, it is important to let them know that exercising is the key to staying in shape. “Kids at that point don’t want to exercise because they are heavy,” O’Meara said. However, if they continue to avoid exercising, obesity can get worse over time.