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  • Deckelbaum and Williams (2001) Chilhood Obesity The Health Issue
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Deckelbaum, RIchard J., and Christine L. Williams

    2001 Childhood Obesity: The Health Issue. Obesity Research 9:S239-S243

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            Deckelbaum and Williams discuss childhood obesity and it’s correlation to adulthood obesity as well as its health effects and possible prevention in the article “Childhood Obesity: The Health Issue". The article is very informative with statistics and percentages showing the differences in obesity trends in multiple cultures. The authors cite studies that track obese or overweight children through adolescence into adulthood to get an accurate look at the connection.

            The article first discusses the fact that childhood obesity is on the rise. It states, currently “8% of children 4 to 5 years of age in the United States are overweight” and that the majority of the 8% are girls. According to the National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES), “in children older than 6 years of age, and particularly in adolescence, there has been an approximate doubling of obesity prevalence in boys as well as in girls in the United States.” There is also a relation between overweight children and their ethnicity. Mexican American children have the most, non-Hispanic white children have the least, and non-Hispanic black children are in-between. Low socioeconomic status also has a direct relationship to obesity , not only in the United States but in other developed countries as well. For example, in Japan, they saw a 5% increase in obese 6 to 14 year old children in 19 years.

            But the authors also mention that unindustrialized countries are also struggling with childhood obesity. The percentage of overweight children has now surpassed the percentage of malnourished children in developing countries in places including South America and in Northern Africa. What I find interesting is that the United States doesn’t have the highest percentage of overweight children, which I’ve always assumed. Countries such as Nigeria, Argentina, and Peru are a few that are above the U.S. This might be because these countries can only afford processed foods. 

            The article then answered my question: if you are obese as a child does that mean you will be obese as an adult? Studies have shown that “higher levels of body mass index (BMI) during childhood can predict overweight late in life.”(Deckelbaum and Williams 2001: 240S) One third of obese children in Japan were still obese as adults in a study by Kotani (1997). Another factor influencing obesity is family environment. Having an obese parent increases the chances of both obese and non-obese children of becoming an obese adult. The most commonly assumed causes of obesity are also mentioned; increases in high calorie food consumption and decreases in exercise.
            The important issues of health complications that accompany obesity are also discussed by Deckelbaum and Williams (2001: 241S): “60% of overweight 5 to 10 year old children had one cardiovascular risk factor.” Also, type 2 diabetes is also on the rise with childhood obesity. There are also psychological problems like low self-esteem that come along with this rising epidemic. The prevention of this obesity issue does not have just one solution for all. Since “aerobic capacity may be lower in African American than in white children and may be more significant than energy expenditure leading to obesity.” (Deckelbaum and Williams 2001: 241S):

            Overall, the authors give a good unbiased view with straight-forward facts and statistics on childhood obesity. I agree with their approach to this issue where they suggest maintaining normal BMI, increased physical activity, and a balance of energy intake and output in an attempt to prevent it. The authors are also in favor of government funding, which I believe is a far-fetched and unrealistic solution. The government already spends a lot of money on this issue and obesity is still on the rise so it's obvious that the government spending more money isn't the answer. I also think the author should have considered the point of view of the obese population. It’s easy for a non-obese person to just list off ways to prevent obesity, but as they say, things are easier said than done.  A reasonable summary with some evidence of critical thought.

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