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The Growing Epidemic in America

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The rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past thirty years and is threatening the health and welfare of our children (CDC, 2011). Children who are obese have a much higher risk of developing both physical and emotional issues growing up. Adolescents can be a struggle for all kids as they get older; however obesity has the potential to make that journey much more difficult. Children who are obese are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem, along with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, breathing problems, and bone and joint issues (DHHS, n.d.). Children's early experiences impact the development of the brain and influence the specific way in which the circuits (or pathways) of the brain become "wired." A child's brain is a work in progress. The outside world shapes its development through experiences that a child senses (NDSU, 2005). Children are not yet capable of making informed life decisions on their own; therefore how could we blame them for taking advantage of what they are exposed to? Childhood Obesity is the fault of children's parents and their care givers and not the children themselves.

As Americans It is our responsibility to raise and influence the youth of society to be healthy, and productive members of their community as people were taught growing up. Parents and care takers are increasingly busy and do not take enough responsibility for their children's health. Although it is easy to let children entertain themselves with their favorite video game, television show, or junk food it is taking an easy out. Between home and the community people live in, children are not getting nearly enough activity or encouragement from their remodels to get outside and play or eat healthy. The old saying "lead by example" has been around for a long time for a reason. Children look up to the influences in their lives, primarily their parents and care givers. Leann Birch, a Distinguished Professor of Human Development, and Director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, showed that the food consumption of toddlers

and primary and secondary school children is influenced by the social groups to which they

belong (Birch, 1999).Children look to those influences for guidance and sometimes need a push in the right direction.

It is vital that the role models in our children's lives start to learn how to positively influence and reshape the lives of the children in our society in order for them to lead healthy and productive lives long into the future. Studies show that the life expectancy for young adults has the potential to decline by five years if aggressive efforts are not made to slow the rising rates of obesity. It is also estimated that children who are obese have a 70-80% chance of becoming obese adults (DHHS, 2005). As children start to develop obesity related diseases at such a young age, the potential for more aggressive and advanced illness rises significantly. As parents and caregivers we no longer have the luxury of playing the blame game, trying to place the fault for childhood obesity on other facets of our children's lives. It doesn't matter; what matters is that our children are sick and need help. As the saying goes "If you're not part of the solution, your part of the problem".

A parent's role in a child's development is integral. Parents are meant to be the biggest advocates for their children's health and welfare. The parents make the all of the important decisions such as what food is brought into the house, the amount of physical activity allotted for each day, as well as being in charge of reinforcing the rules. How can children be expected to make the right decisions for their health when their brains are not fully developed? "A number of factors influence early brain development in children. These important factors include genetics, food and nutrition, responsiveness of parents, daily experiences, physical activity and love. In particular, parents should be aware of the importance of furnishing a healthy and nutritious diet, giving love and nurturing, providing interesting and varied everyday experiences, and giving children positive and sensitive feedback"(NDSU, 2005). Parents



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