Socio-economic, Environment, and Childhood Obesity
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Socio-economic, Environment, and Childhood Obesity
Obesity is one of the most salient public health issues of our time affecting children and adolescents in both developed and developing countries. Obesity results from the accumulation of body fat due to the high intake of calories and fat. Over the past decade, the prevalence of obese children aged 5-12 years has doubled in the United States of America, affecting individuals from all socioeconomic, ethical, and racial backgrounds (Lieb, Snow, and DeBoer, 2017). Obesity is known to be more prevalent among children from low socioeconomic status families. Obesity is a salient health issue in the United States of America that has become an epidemic. In the country, about one-third of American children, 25 million, and aged 5-12 years are obese (Banik, Naher, Pervez, and Hossain, 2020). An increase in obesity had led to 500 000 death each year and growth in comorbidities such as high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and glucose intolerance. According to WHO, obesity is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide. This paper examined some of the socio-economic factors which contribute to the worsening obesity epidemic among children.
This is qualitative research that examined how the socioeconomic environment during early childhood contributes to obesity. The paper qualitatively assessed peer-reviewed evidence to gain have a comprehensive understanding of how socioeconomic background during early childhood contributes to obesity. Paper reviewed peer-reviewed articles and journals published in MEDLINE, PubMed, Science Direct, and Informit. To qualify to be used as review material, the report had been published in English within the last six years, found in the above databases, and included one or more of the following outcomes; socioeconomic, obesity, health measure, fast food, and childhood obesity.
The paper reviewed ten quality peer-reviewed related to how socioeconomic environment during early childhood contributes to obesity. Below are socioeconomic factors that were documented to contribute to the obesity epidemic among children.
1. Low Socioeconomic Status
Low socioeconomic status is one of the prime risk causes noted in previews studies as a contributor to obesity and other adverse health complications such as mental health issues, cancer, and diabetes. The paper found that there is a graded correlation between childhood obesity and low socioeconomic status. Study findings indicated that there is a wide gap in the obesity prevalence between low and high socioeconomic status groups. There is a stabilized or reduced rates of childhood obesity developed countries and groups with higher socioeconomic status, whereas, a steady increase in the rate of childhood obesity has been seen in groups with low socioeconomic status.
2. Socioeconomic Discrepancies in Nutrition
The prevalence rates of obesity in the country it is also attributed to the shift in the United States of America food environment. American children exposed to the food environs that are rich in a range of processed food, characterized by higher energy density, range, portion sizes, and added sugar and fat.
3. Lack of Physical Exercise
Lack of physical exercise is another factor contributing to obesity among children. Though it is recommended that children should participate in 30 to 60 minutes of consistent physical exercise every day, only a fraction of American children engages in these activities. A low level of physical activity coupled with the massive consumption of fast food is linked with an increased risk of obesity.
4. Direct promotion and sale of food inside American schools
Direct marketing and selling of food products by fast-food companies inside the school to children are other contributing factors to pediatric obesity. In most district schools, there exist fast-food firms that sell food and beverages directly to school kids by posting outside of school cafeterias. There are also soft-drinks vending machines in nearly all American schools. These variables have increased children’s consumption of fast-food products and soft drinks, which have significantly contributed to the worsening obesity epidemic.
1. Low Socioeconomic Status
The study findings show that there is a graded correlation between childhood obesity and low socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic hardship is a prime upstream facilitator that has set the stage for dangerous midstream risk dynamics such as offspring insecurity, poor mental health, family strain and dysfunction, emotional turmoil, and low self-esteem that elevated the prevalence of obesity. It is documented that children from low socioeconomic status families are more likely to be exposed to adverse childhood experiences such as physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, parental violence, and imprisonment (Banik, Naher, Pervez and Hossain, 2020). There exist a steady and graded link between adverse childhood exposure and consequences such as severe obesity, poor self-rated health, ischemic heart disease, mental illness, and alcoholism.
Low socioeconomic status families are characterized by financial adversity, a low awareness, lack of cohesion, neglect, prioritization of a healthy lifestyle, low self-esteem, mental health problems, and addiction, which results in an adverse social environment for infants and young children. Financial adversity makes healthy lifestyle selections less reachable, thus encouraging unhealthy lifestyle decisions such as frequent consumption of calorie-dense and unhealthy foods, reduced physical activities, and less opportunity for education (Friedrich, 2017). Most people from low socioeconomic status groups lack higher learning and rational thinking, which leaves them more susceptible to junk food marketing. In their study “adverse Childhood Experiences,” using a retrospective research design, demonstrates that negative childhood experiences and family dysfunction have numerous adverse health outcomes.
These conditions disturb a desired emotional, psychological, and social environment for the nurturing of the child. Early childhood is when the kids are most susceptible and contingent on the exterior nurturing, attachment, and support since they are yet to acquire adequate protective mechanisms such as independence, self-esteem, coping skills, and resilience. In their paper (Lieb, Snow, and DeBoer, 2017), affirmed children raised under these circumstances are more prone to adverse health issues such as obesity, chronic inflammation, and mental health problems. Disturbance in the socioeconomic background during early childhood significantly plays a central role in weight gain and obesity.
Hemmingsson (2018), indicated that socioeconomic adversity was the prime upstream catalyst that sets the stage for critical midway risk conditions such as offspring insecurity, family strain and dysfunction, emotional turmoil, and poor mental health that elevated the prevalence of obesity. In their paper (Lieb, Snow and DeBoer, 2017), it also affirmed that low socioeconomic status is one of the prime risk conditions that contribute to one developing obesity and other adverse health complications such as mental health issues, cancer, and diabetes.
2. Socioeconomic Discrepancies in Nutrition
Previous studies have attributed prevailing rates of obesity in the country with the shift in the United States of America food environment. Since the twentieth century, there has been a drastic change in the food-environment that children are exposed to. Studies have argued that change if the food environment is the prime cause of the obesity epidemic (Friedrich, 2017). Today’s foods are cheap, abundant, and calorie-dense, which contributes to unhealthy eating. The current food environment allows the excessive and unbalanced intake of energy and nutrient. In their paper (Lieb, Snow, and DeBoer, 2017), noted that these alterations in food environment coupled with declined physical exercise have significantly contributed to an increasing energy imbalance, which has led to rising in pediatric and adult obesity. The disparity between today’s U.S. food environments equated to the mid-twentieth century is the outcome of critical change in food features such as quantity, quality, and availability. Today’s food environs are rich in a range of processed food, characterized by improved energy density, scale, portion sizes, and added sugar and fat.
Most fast foods contain high calories content, which causes weight gain. Since most kids eat fast food, which has high calories and high-fat, studies point out that they are likely to consume the triple amount of calories recommend a day. Hall (2017) pointed that the obesity epidemic in the United States of America can be attributed to the high consumption of a lot of soft drinks that readily available and cheaply bought at vending machines and eating unhealthy fast foods sold at fast-food outlets. In their paper (Sudfeld et al., 2015), found that firms’ responsible manufacturing of soft drinks and the production of processed food add high sugar content beyond the recommended amount to soft drinks and add some preservatives to processed food to make it more appealing and tasty to children.
Most fast-food firms and beverage companies lie to their customer about the explicit content of sugar in their soft drinks and processed food products. They lure and expose children to sugar-loaded food through misleading advertisements and low price schemes. In their paper noted that children are more likely to eat any food which seems appealing and tasty. Due to loaded promotions on televisions and low price schemes, lures parents and children in consuming more processed and fast foods. Using an example of an ideal American family (Hall, 2017) illustrates how American children are likely to be obese. For instance, most low-income and middle-income American families eat a bowl of cereal and drink a glass of orange during breakfast. This meal contains more sugar and calorie content, which exceeds the daily recommended amount. Kids from these families likely to add a bottle of coke during lunch meals, tripling their daily calories and sugar intake.
Today, most people prefer to buy fast food since preparing nutritious meals at home requires more money to purchase and take more time to prepare. However, while making a comparison between individuals who eat raw and natural foods and those who eat processed food (Poh et al., 2019), observed that participants who eat fresh and natural foods were healthier compared to their counterparts who consumed processed food. They conclude that processed and fast food contains a high amount of calories and sugars contents that are required to maintain the children’s daily activities, growth, and metabolism.
3. Lack of Physical Exercise
Lack of physical exercise is documented to be another factor contributing to obesity among children. Previous, physical activities were once a central part of daily life for all persons, old and young; however, the modern amenities of today’s experience (easy food source and transportation) and lack of time to engage in healthy behaviours and exercise have altered this considerably. Lieb, Snow, and DeBoer (2017) noted that today children rarely participate in physical activities and fitness programs. Though it is recommended that children should participate in 30 to 60 minutes of consistent physical exercise day-to-day, only a fraction of American children engages in these activities. Low levels of physical exercise were linked with an increased risk of obesity. While examining the relationship between watching television and overweight (Friedrich, 2017), found that there is a graded correlation between being overweight and watching tv. Children who spend most of their time watching TV, four or more hours a day are most likely to be obese compared to those who watch less than one hour daily.
4. Direct promotion and sale of food inside American schools.
Previous studies have also documented that direct marketing and selling of food products by fast-food companies inside the school to children is another contributing factor to pediatric obesity. In their paper (Lieb, Snow, and DeBoer, 2017), noted that fast-food firm sells products straight to school kids by advertising outside of school cafeterias. Most district schools generate substantial revenue by buying discounted fast-food products and make them up before sale to students. Lieb, Snow, and DeBoer (2017) highlighted that there are soft-drinks vending machines in nearly all American schools. Availability of these fast food products and beverage have increased children consumption of these products and drinks, thus contributing to the worsening obesity epidemic.
It documented that the hash socioeconomic atmosphere during childhood contributes to obesity and several obesity comorbidities. Obesity has shown resilient to conventional treatment and alterations, such as an increase in appetite, increasing hormones, and reduced metabolic rate (Shori, Albaik, and Bokhari, 2017). Prevention seems to be the only comprehensive approach to minimize population exposure to common obesity risk factors. Parents are requested to improve their lifestyle by adopting traditional eating habits so that they can reduce the prevalence of obesity and encourage their children to participate in physical exercise and limit their time watching television (Srivastava, 2019). Educational stakeholders and the government need to enact policies that restrict the direct selling of processed foods in the learning institution that they can minimize children’s exposure to these junk foods.
Obesity is still a prevalent public health issue of our time affecting children and adolescents in the United States. From study findings, it is documented that the obesity prevalence in the country has been contributed by; low socioeconomic status, socioeconomic discrepancies in nutrition; lack of physical exercise; direct promotion and sale of food inside American schools. Since obesity has shown resilient to conformist treatment and alterations such as an upsurge of appetite increasing hormones and reduced metabolic rate, prevention seem to be the only comprehensive approach to minimize population exposure to common obesity.
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