The human body needs a certain amount of calories in order to function properly. If this amount is equal to the number of waste calories, body weight will remain unchangeable. However, if people eat and drink more than their body needs, the energy imbalance will lead to overweight and obesity. Children should also balance their energy as the increasing tendency to obesity is observed both in adults and children. Nevertheless, there are many other factors that can lead to weight gain. A risk of becoming obese before birth is very high. Pregnant woman with excessive weight or diabetes may give birth to a child who will be prone to obesity.
Global View of Obesity
In the 21st century, obesity has become one of the most serious public health problems in the world. The prevalence of obesity has greatly increased and reached epidemic proportions over the last years. Obesity is a health issue that is accepted as a state problem in lots of developed countries, and especially in the United States of America, where it was first noticed. Moreover, the rapid spread and worsening of the obesity pandemic among children greatly increases the number of unhealthy population.
Figure of obese people growths due to their consumption of the unhealthy foods on the one hand and a lack of physical activity on the other hand. In addition, the food has never been so affordable. However, the category of the cheapest foods is rich in fat and sugar. Therefore, massive obesity is a result of the tendency to the excessive food consumption and sedentary lifestyle (Baghi 2011).
Studies on the rate of obesity in the United Kingdom have shown that poor social groups more frequently suffer from obesity as they do not pay attention to the healthy lifestyle and diet. For instance, a university study found that the inhabitants of Glasgow region were more prone to obesity in comparison with their neighbours, who were the residents of the elite residential area (EI-Sayed 2010).
In 2006, World Health Organization has arranged the European Ministerial Conference on combating obesity, which was held in Istanbul. Scientists have posed ethical and economic arguments in favour of increased measures of obesity treating. Obesity is not only harmful to the health and well-being of a vast population number. However, it significantly increases the expenses of health services.
Problem of obesity affects 30-50% of adults and up to one-third of children in the European Region. The obesity pandemic has spread globally. Medical authorities spend up to 6% of total health expenditure on the treatment of health problems, such as Type II diabetes, some types of cancers and heart diseases caused by obesity (Moreno, Pigeot and Ahrens 2011).
Obesity and Children
Children obesity is probably even more disturbing issue as it tripled over the last two decades. More than 10% of children are considered to be overweight before they reached puberty. As a result, the problem leads to decline in the average age of the population. Moreover, the annual rate of obesity prevalence among children continuously increases in the present time.
According to scientist’s observations half of all adult population and every fifth child are overweight. Moreover, every third child suffers from obesity. Nowadays, up to one million people die from excessive body weight worldwide every year. The problem is that children are far more exposed to commercial advertising than the influence of teachers or parents recommendations. Child obesity epidemic is a serious threat to the health of future generations. According to scientist’s forecasts if no measures are taken to address the problem, the prevalence of obesity among children will continue to increase extremely rapidly.
Consequences of an overweight on children’s health are clear. Scientific studies show that obesity is a cause of coronary heart disease, hypertension, ischemic stroke, colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer. Children obesity is strongly associated with risk factors for diabetes, orthopaedic problems, and serious mental disorders.
Lots of health problems are associated with the obesity that were found only in adults is more often seen in children during the last years. Examples include the following problems: high blood pressure, early symptoms of hardening of the arteries, type II diabetes, breathing difficulties during sleep. Nowadays obese children are more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome and its consequences at an earlier age.
Young children should be physically active through sport and other activities. This improves motor skills and coordination development, strength and flexibility. Proper eating habits are equally important for the development of a healthy personality. Parents and caregivers must be responsible for the upbringing of a healthy child (Gard 2011).
Besides, obesity makes a negative impact on the child’s psychosocial, social development and quality of life. Scientific studies prove the fact that children obesity increases the risk of social isolation at school years. Obese children become the victims of bullying what damages their self-confidence and self-esteem. It hinders achieving progress in study and finding friends among other pupils. That is why, these children more frequently play truant and their progress in education is worse in comparison with their classmates. Social skills of obese children are poor that leads to more bulling. As a result of all above mentioned reasons, these children feel themselves going round in circles (Davies and Hiram 2008). Constant low self-esteem and helplessness may trigger depression, which can lead to additional weight gain. They even may find no savour left in life.
Children obesity and behaviour problems are closely related. Scientific findings have proven that obese children are as much as five times more likely to face behaviour problems, such as temper tantrums and resentfulness. They often refuse to comply with rules and can blame others for their poor behaviour and mistakes (Baghi 2011).
In addition, obese children often come across negative attitudes from their peers since obesity is viewed as unacceptable and stigmatizing. Studies have shown that non-obese or average-weigh peers are more preferred as friends than those who suffer from obesity. Scientists – Potter and Roberts held an interesting experiment. They presented children with information about peers suffering from diabetes and epilepsy and noticed that those who got explanatory information conceived the peers as less attractive than those that got only descriptive information. In other words, the experiment has failed to support the assumption that increasing children’s understanding will improve their attitude to obese children. Moreover, sometimes the family members, for example elder brother can tease his younger obese sister instead of helping her to overcome the problem. Weight-related teasing is considered to be an acute problem for obese children. Children being teased by peers or family experienced significantly lower body satisfaction.
Cultural Understandings of Obesity
Humanity has been struggling with the food deficiency for long period of history. That is why the obesity has been viewed as a sign of prosperity and wealth in the Middle Age and the Renaissance. It was common among officials of higher ranks in Europe. In Britain the normal average weight was higher in 2007 than in previous centuries. This fact is explained by the increasing rates of obesity leading to the acceptance of extra weight as being normal. In modern culture, excess weight is perceived as unattractive and is associated with health problems and negative stereotypes. Nowadays obesity is considered as a reason for discrimination rather than a sign of prosperity. Thereafter, adults and children face social stigmatization and bulling (Davies, and Hiram 2008). However, obesity is considered to be a sign of well-being and wealth in some parts of Africa.
The myth that obese people are strong is easy to debunk. Their might is often associated with their body mass. In fact, lots of people seriously suffering from obesity can hardly walk. Most of them can not control their body and will themselves into doing the simplest physical exercises. That is why there is no point to speak about their strength.
Canadian researchers claim that there is the genetic evidence that explains why the obese people are happier and kinder in comparison with the slim people. The scientists have discovered that the gene FTO was not only an obesity gene. It can be called as a “happy gene” as well. In other words, this gene functions as a protector against major depression (Jagran Post 2012).
Nevertheless, obesity harms the health and well being of a great number of adults and children and significantly increases the cost of health services. Obesity prevention should belong to one of the major task of public health services and schools in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, in the European Region and other countries all over the world. Prevention measures can not be delayed even for a minute since, according to the scientist’s forecasts the number of obese people will increase considerably. There are many recommendations how to treat obesity among children as a young generation in order to reduce the figures of obesity in future prospective. Providing a healthy start on life, supplying schools with healthy food, engaging children in various physical activities are considered to be the effective and useful measures of children obesity combating.