The War on Childhood Obesity
By Charles Hopkins
Published 01/2/2008 | Fitness
The fact that fifteen percent of children are obese has become
sufficiently alarming to mount a movement aimed at fighting childhood
obesity. The Journal of American Medical Association in its December
12, 2001 issue portrayed childhood obesity as an epidemic. The UK House
of Commons in May 2004 urged that if actions are not quickly
implemented to fight childhood obesity, it will become the leading
cause of morbidity around the world, surpassing even smoking.
Experts around the globe have been crying out in unison that the
primary causes of childhood obesity are mostly environmental. They
point accusing fingers at vending machines located in schools and the
growth of the fast food industry (junk food) worldwide. The easy access
to food lacking nutrition along with relatively minimal emphasis on
exercise has been predominantly blamed for the rise of childhood
obesity. Today's children face a serious health threat - and not simply
as future adults, but also during their more fragile developing years.
The fight against childhood obesity must enlist the attention and
assistance of parents, the children themselves, and even governments.
The combination of easy access to empty-calorie junk food along
with sedentary lifestyles; (e.g. TV, video games, instant messaging)
all converge as a health plague against the well-being of children.
Such a deadly combination calls for cooperative action among concerned
family members, private organizations, and legislative bodies. Fighting
childhood obesity cannot be the purview of only a few or merely a
battle cry without subsequent follow through.
To fight childhood obesity, policy makers in the UK have planned to
implement the labeling of food content to categorize each item's level
of healthfulness. Since there have been decades of heavy junk food
advertising, the World Health Organization is even considering a ban on
the promotion of such snacks on TV and print media, including teen
magazines and newspapers. Of course, the impacted manufacturers cried
"foul" at the announcement since such a policy is supposedly not
evidence-based and reflects poorly on their products. Instead, they
have urged that governments and other obesity organizations conduct
scientific studies to validate the claim that their products are indeed
Numerous obesity organizations - including the American Obesity
Association and Overeaters Anonymous - have been instrumental in
fighting childhood obesity through awareness campaigns and family
consultation. Even the Surgeon General has called the citizenry at
large to join the fight in diminishing and preventing the incidence of
childhood obesity. All have recommended that parents encourage their
children to become more active in sports, dancing, and other healthy
physical activities that help to burn calories and strengthen the
heart. These recommendations are in lieu of parking in front of a TV
for hours with little more than a bag of chips and can of soda.
Fighting the plague of obesity cannot simply be addressed by
personal adherence to diet and exercise alone. The combined efforts of
individuals, concerned organizations, and governing bodies are
necessary to provide a message of solidarity that helps to control the
incidence of obese children and thus minimizing their current and
future health risks.