Childhood Obesity Essay

How Childhood Obesity is Linked to Poverty in America

Most regions in the U.S have high rates of obesity levels, which is common among the young people. It is unfortunate that most of these children come from low-income areas in the U.S. (Menifield et al., 2008). Obesity Epidemiology journal compared the magnitude of child obesity in Norway, Canada and U.S. It states, “In Canada and especially in the US, we find a much greater extent of obesity for poor than non-poor children” (Obesity epidemiology; child obesity linked to child poverty in the United States and Canada, 2006). The article asserts that obesity is common among the poor communities than in areas where people have a high socioeconomic status. The research involves analysis of various studies that have been done about obesity in children and poverty in America and the analysis of researches that do not support that obesity is linked to poverty.

Obesity has increased over the years as asserted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) where it has indicated that there was no state that had obesity rates higher than 15% in1990 but today only 6 states have less than 20% of obesity rate (Menifield et al., 2008). Although Menifield et al. (2008) may seem of concern to only a small group of countries, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about the health of the young adults. The study has also indicated that obesity has increased to 17.1% among adolescents between 1999 and 2004.  Poverty levels have being linked to the increase in obesity levels in U.S. obesity is therefore is a rampant health issue among many young people in U.S and it is increasing each year according to the research. The research on how poverty is linked to Childhood obesity in America is important to the government, health institutions and the public. Childhood obesity is an epidemic that has become to solve in the poor regions in America thus the affected families need assistance to solve the issue. The research will enable institutions such as the government and non-governmental organizations to come up with strategies that will help people with low economic statuses in America be assisted to ensure the levels of childhood obesity in their homes decrease. Some of the strategies could be making fresh foods and organic food cheap and closer to the proximities of such people. More job opportunities could be provided to these communities to enable them have better living standards and hence reduce the obesity levels.

Lee, Harris and Gordon (2008) examined the link between childhood poverty and obesity from adolescence into young adulthood. I have lived to believe that people from high income earning families are more likely to be obese but research from various scholars indicates that poverty has a bigger impact on children being obese than financial stability being the cause. The research discovered that there was a significant influence of poverty in childhood on obesity for females but not for male adolescences. The research indicates that poverty may affect female obesity through interceding effects of inadequate sleep, physical activity, skipping breakfast and some forms of parental monitoring (Lee, Harris and Gordon, 2008). The researchers discovered that lack of parental monitoring is rampant in homes with high poverty levels hence might make children skip breakfast or have inadequate sleep due to the financial constraints at home, which result into obesity. Girls also seem more emotional to situations than boys hence the reason why they are affected more by poverty levels in their homes unlike boys as they grow into being young adults.

Lack of finances is rampant in the low-income communities. Obesity and Genetics Journal research used Canada’s statistics on people living below low-income levels. It emphasized, “Household income had an effect for the younger, preschool-age cohort. Among kids living in poverty (i.e., living below the low-income cut-offs established by Statistics Canada), the risk of being obese was 20% greater compared with the risk among kids not living in poverty, and this risk was regardless of parenting style” (Obesity epidemiology; child obesity linked to child poverty in the United States and Canada, 2006). I agree that household income affects kids who live in poverty to become obese , a point that needs emphasizing since so many people believe that obesity is an issue affecting children from well-up families. 

 A study examined regional and state differences in obesity among over 40,000 adolescents and children in the U.S based on the socioeconomic statuses of the regions. Singh, Kogan and Van (2008) state that there are disparities in regions on obesity levels in children. For instance, the East and Southcentral region has 18.9% while the Mountain region has 11.4% of obesity levels. Inequality in income is higher in East and Southcentral regions in the U.S than in the mountain region and it has highly contributed to the increase of obesity among the children. “Geographic differences in the physical or built environments as well as state-level policy measures may be crucial in explaining further geographic disparities in childhood and adolescent obesity.  The upstream contextual factors such as income inequality and poverty have influenced obesity prevalence in various geographic regions” (Singh, Kogan and Val, 2008). People from these regions have lower socioeconomic statuses than other regions in America thus the high obesity levels.

Gordon-Larsen et al. (2004) studied the main changes in physical activity and diet globally and their effects on changes in obesity and used nationally representatives studies and large-scale surveys to gather information. They assert that inactivity and physical activity habits have effects on teenagers turning into young adults. Children from poor families have fewer opportunities for organize sports participation and outdoor exercise hence become obese for lack of the facilities.  Yet a careful analysis of the data reveals that parents monitor and establish the lifestyles of their children when they are at home. Therefore, the children are restricted from taking non-nutritious foods chosen by children. Parents living in high poverty levels are not able to monitor children’s diet, physical activities and diet patterns because of time constraints and stress when they work. In other words, Gordon-Larsen et al. (2004) believe that the children are therefore subjected to wrong food choices and hence eat non-nutritious foods, as it is what they like most and in the end cause obesity in children from these families. These parents spend most of their time looking for finances to support their families hence have minimum time at their homes and cannot manage to monitor their children at home in matters such as the food choices the children make.

Children living in the low-income families lack people who can offer nutritional advice to them. They attend basic schools that do not offer extra classes on issues such as diets and the importance of exercising one’s body. White (2006) who did a study for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the effects of obesity from various doctors asserts, “8: Percentage of elementary schools with physical education.” It indicates that very few children in America have access to physical education. While White (2006) is probably wrong when he claims that only 8 percent of children in America have access to elementary education, he is right that many children do not have these physical activities in their schools.  Lack of this information has led the children to eat any food without thinking of its repercussion in their bodies in the future.  On the hand, children from high-income earners have being educated on such matters and are more cautious when eating unlike those from low-income families. Lack of finances has led the children to lack proper education on matters of health, and it has affected their lifestyles thus being the reason why most children from low-income families are obese in America.