Childhood Obesity: The Overlooked Epidemic

Community health is a very important topic that gets overlooked by both citizens and politicians. We put our trust into government officials to find cures and solutions to our health issues, but fail to look at the source of these issues. If we want to make a change in community health we must look at the core of the problem and focus more on primary prevention rather than tertiary prevention techniques. With the majority of our community health issues being preventable diseases, in order to prevent them we must eradicate the cause.

Childhood obesity is constantly on the rise and we have failed to do anything about it. Of course there have been numerous attempts to reduce the obesity rate in children but these attempts are more focused on secondary and tertiary prevention. We are focusing too much on reversing the effects of obesity and not enough time on preventing obesity in the first place. If we inform our community of the health risks that they are entering when they are obese we can teach them how they can prevent it. We must target the parents and not the children. Parents are the source of food for children and at a young age they must be properly feed and active so that these preventable diseases do not occur later on in life. Physical education in school must be more active and less optional. We must actually teach physical education rather than allow students to roam freely among themselves and choose whether or not they will be active.

A child is unable to make life decisions surrounding their health and as adults we should be assuring the children in our communities are in their best health. Poor communities are just as capable of living healthy lifestyles are middle class but without the understanding of how to do so, they will reason their lack of health to their financial standings. Community leaders must provide options for parents to seek out in order to keep their children healthy. Community health groups, activities, or even a park would be helpful. If we can get our kids out of the house and into the yard we are making progress. By lowering childhood obesity, we are able to prevent the likelihood of strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, and heart diseases. All of these major issues are linked to obesity and there has to be something done to lower our rates. Obesity has risen from 7% in 1980 to 18% in 2012. That is not a good ladder to be climbing with our generations to come. About 1/3 of Americans including adults are obese and this is even more overwhelming. The problem lies in people not knowing that they are obese or thinking that obesity is just a word that more fit people call less fit people. We must explain to people why they are classified as obese and the health risks that are associated with obesity. Most people hear obesity and think of it as an insult. We fear telling others that they are obese because it sounds hurtful and parents despise being told that their child is obese. The truth of the matter is obesity is here and is rising. There is no way to sugarcoat the facts. We can continue to act as if it is not an important issue and the rates will continue to increase as the years go on. Children should not have high blood pressure, or any other disease associated with overweight. This issue will not change until we start to make it a priority. I believe this to be the most important issue in our community health because people fear the outcome of bringing childhood obesity up around the parents. It is also critical to point out that you don’t have to be rich or extremely wealthy to eat healthier foods and be active. Parents should be more involved in their children’s lives and encourage them to be more active on a day to day basis. Restrict TV time and increase time spent outside. Maker better food choices when feeding your kids. Teach parents the importance of nutrition and fitness and why it should matter to them.

These are ways in which we can help make a turnaround in our communities for the better. We must focus on the now and not the later. When flu season comes around we get flu shots weeks before the virus is actually being accounted for. We vaccinate because it prevents us from getting the flu. It does no good to get a flu shot once you are infected with the flu virus. Just as this is true so is it for obesity. We must take the necessary steps before hand to prevent the disease from affecting our children.

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