Childhood and Adolescent Obesity in the US

Childhood and adolescent obesity have reached epidemic levels in the United States. Currently, about 17% of children in the United States are obese (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Obesity can affect all aspects of children’s lives, including their psychological and cardiovascular health; their overall physical health also suffers. The link between obesity and other conditions makes it a public health issue for children and adolescents. Primary prevention methods aim to educate the child and the family and encourage proper nutrition and exercise from an early age to adulthood (Bean et al., 2020). In contrast, secondary prevention methods are aimed at reducing the impact of childhood obesity to prevent the child from maintaining unhealthy habits and obesity into adulthood (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Current methods are not enough to achieve the best results, and it is necessary to introduce mandatory training for parents on the basics of a healthy lifestyle.

Childhood and adolescent obesity have reached epidemic levels in the United States, affecting the lives of millions of people. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity has more than doubled among children and tripled among adolescents (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Obesity can affect all aspects of the lives of children and adolescents, including, but not limited to, their psychological and cardiovascular health and overall physical health (Bean et al., 2020). The link between obesity and pathological outcomes makes it a public health issue for children and adolescents. Obesity has a significant impact on both physical and psychological health.

Consequently, it is associated with several concomitant diseases, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, sleep apnea, low self-esteem, and even severe forms of depression. In addition, obese children observed before adulthood were much more likely to suffer from cardiovascular and digestive diseases (Bean et al., 2020). An increase in body fat also puts children at increased risk of cancer, such as breast, colon, esophageal, kidney, and pancreatic cancers (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Thus, the problem of childhood obesity is significant because if it is not provided now, there will be even more problems. Various methods are used to solve this problem, such as introducing healthy food programs in schools. However, these methods do not bring significant results.

Urban communities and educational institutions have begun to enact laws and implement programs such as healthy eating in schools and health awareness workshops aimed at youth and the prevention of childhood obesity in the United States and Canada (Bean et al., 2020). However, the leading statistical indicators of childhood obesity do not show a significant difference compared to when these programs were not introduced (Sjunnestrand et al., 2019). Another way to combat childhood obesity is to inform parents about proper nutrition and calorie needs in their children’s diet. However, this method of information dissemination is not currently effective in the form in which it exists. For example, one of the main limitations of informing parents about childhood obesity is that only written information is used to obtain medical information and prevent diseases.

The same problem in educating parents is that medical institutions have several issues conveying information to parents. Nurses said they were reluctant to pay attention to children’s weight if it could undermine the trust of parents (Sjunnestrand et al., 2019). Nurses identified several organizational obstacles to dealing with the child’s weight issues with parents, including insufficient cooperation with other healthcare providers and limited time for visits. The nurses cited as barriers the lack of sufficient knowledge about what to offer the family and the lack of confidence in their communication skills (Sjunnestrand et al., 2019). Doctors, and school staff participation is crucial when educating parents about nutrition and health issues in preventing obesity in children.

While all the previous data reflect more obvious methods of preventing obesity in children, it should be noted that ensuring the participation of the whole family in the intervention will give the best results. All current research shows that families should be included in the treatment program for obesity in children (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). As mentioned earlier, there are two primary components of the prevention and control of childhood obesity. Firstly, to inform parents about the nutritional needs of their children, and secondly, to apply the information received. The main problem at the moment is the second point. Family lifestyle interventions are recommended for treating obesity in children, and clinical guidelines constantly emphasize the importance of including parents in these interventions (Bean et al., 2020). Training among parents may be proposed as a solution to solve this problem. This should become mandatory, like a planned visit to a pediatrician.

It is necessary to submit information in an accessible form to make it easier for parents to implement knowledge. Materials should be presented in an accessible language so that the population with a low level of health literacy can adequately understand the educational material and maintain motivation for the prevention of childhood obesity (Bean et al., 2020). Visualizing information in color charts is also essential to help parents visualize rather than trying to understand with numbers and words. Educating parents about the portion sizes of food and snacks is crucial. Similarly, healthy eating should be taught in schools as a required and essential method of preventing childhood obesity. This must be presented not as a diet but as a healthy lifestyle.

The main problem with such a solution is the social responsibility of parents. Since many parents can easily ignore such classes, as they ignore scheduled visits to children’s doctors. However, statistics show that parents are involved in this topic (Sjunnestrand et al., 2019). Thanks to the political methods of combating obesity, namely the wide publicity of this problem, this topic has become a priority for many parents (Bean et al., 2020). That is why such training should be mandatory for parents to attend local medical centers, schools, or community centers. This way, conveying the essence to the maximum number of people will be better. In addition, such training can be helpful for people, not only as parents but also as independent individuals. Teaching parents and children the diet’s requirements has its limitations in that the information must be easy to understand and accessible to be practical. By making the available educational materials more understandable, from simple tables and numbers to more essential aspects such as colors or numbers, parents will be able to visualize the changes they need to make, whether in terms of portion sizes or even to see how much childhood obesity is present in their family.

Thus, assigning some responsibility to parents and informing them that controlled cooking, diet control, and family participation in physical activity will help treat and manage obesity in their children. The home environment in the family can affect children at an early age; thus, making changes to the household from an early age can educate them and influence them to grow up healthy. The overall need to reduce obesity levels will help children and their families in future generations by creating a healthy lifestyle and environment. General health and lifestyle should be a priority as they balance one with the other to cope with the rising levels of obesity.


Bean, M. K., Caccavale, L. J., Adams, E. L., Burnette, C. B., LaRose, J. G., Raynor, H. A., & Mazzeo, S. E. (2020). Parent involvement in adolescent obesity treatment: a systematic review. Pediatrics, 146(3). Web.

Sanyaolu, A., Okorie, C., Qi, X., Locke, J., & Rehman, S. (2019). Childhood and adolescent obesity in the United States: a public health concern. Global pediatric health, 6. Web.

Sjunnestrand, M., Nordin, K., Eli, K., Nowicka, P., & Ek, A. (2019). Planting a seed-child health care nurses’ perceptions of speaking to parents about overweight and obesity: a qualitative study within the STOP project. BMC public health, 19(1), 1-11. Web.

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