Childhood Obesity Prevalence in Rural vs. Urban Communities
Marian Alva Rose Rogers
10 October 2018
Childhood Obesity Prevalence in Relation to Socioeconomic Status.
Childhood obesity is one of the largest and most dangerous epidemics of the 21st century. While many things can be blamed for the increasing weight of America's youth, socioeconomic status (SES) too often seems to factor into poor health and nutrition. This is arguably due to the lack of resources, knowledge, and healthcare. In order to understand the disease, there are several terms that can greatly aide in one's understanding of the severity topic. Obesity can be defined as being “overweight” or in other words, having too much body fat (CDC, 2018). Obesity is a measurable disease with a large sum of data that can be tracked and compared. A person is able to calculate their body fat percentage through a calculation that referred to as a (BMI) or Body Mass Index. The relationship between these two factors is positively correlated. This means an increased B.M.I. is one of the characteristics of an obese person. The CDC properly explained their joined roles by stating, “Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile of the CDC sex-specific BMI-for-age growth charts (2018)”.
Modern technology and research can be used by professionals to study weight demographics. This allows them to compare environments so that they can pinpoint causes and help provide a change. One of the noted findings is that according to Johnson, “Obesity rates are higher among rural children than urban children in the United States” (2015). Many people argue that this is due to a lack of resources in rural areas, while urban environments have resources such as markets and convince stores. A prime example of this argument was presented by Vans “Parents reported limited access to healthy foods in rural areas compared with their counterparts living in urban areas (2017)”. In the real world, this would be represented by the lack of nutritional restaurants and shops in low- income areas so unhealthy options are all that is present to this community.
According to recent findings by Johnson (2015), “rural youth have a 26% greater chance of becoming obese than youth from an urban environment”. This shows how great this diversity of resources can affect a young population. Childhood obesity sets the tone for many long- lasting issues and must be taken seriously when it is impacting such a large portion of the youth of this country. This condition seems to stay consistent throughout the race as long as the SES stays at a shared score (Johnson, 2015).
Fradkin (2015) noted this revelation by stating, “Youth in the highest SES had a significantly lower prevalence of obesity than those of lower SES at both 5th and 7th grades when disregarding race/ethnicity”. This shows that everyone in a lower status is more likely to feel the effects of obesity regardless of genetic factors.
While studying this topic, I found that SES truly impacts one's health and lifestyle from the moment of conception until death. I was amazed on how the health of children relied so much on what they had the access to. I always held in the back of my mind that many children loved sugar and craved fast- food as a snack, but it was not until now that I realized that absolute severity of this epidemic that continues to rise. According to Haboush (2011), “Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for disease and fatal health conditions, such as hypertension, type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and some cancers. Not only is obesity linked to clinical conditions, but it may also lead to mental health problems such as self-blame and low self-esteem.” This shows that not only does obesity affect one's physical appearance, but also their mind and other internal organs.
Obesity does not only make life harder but can also factor into cutting one's lifespan significantly shorter. According to Haboush (2011), “Obesity is an epidemic facing millions of people across the globe, resulting in more than 300,000 deaths in the United States alone.” This shocking number does not apply to children alone, but I thought it was essential to realize how many lives are being cut short due to this epidemic. This number has been estimated to rise if we continue to allow our youth access to poor nutrition and continue to allow society to normalize and support unhealthy eating habits.
I have since thought about this topic and we can see how marketing is a prime example of the targeting of low SES. When you are in a low- income environment many fast-foods and fat, greasy, and processed foods are available and this often that is available and affordable to the local community. This, in turn, is fed to the rising youth and it causes them to suffer through childhood obesity. This can have both social and health repercussions.
This epidemic does not only affect one age but rather it affects children of all age ranges. According to the CDC (2018),” Obesity prevalence was 13.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 18.4% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 20.6% among 12- to 19-year-olds.” This shows that this epidemic does not have an expiration date, but rather can haunt youth into their lives later on. This should draw all our attention to the epidemic as we can see it ages with our youth and continues to grow over time.
The health of our children is not only a parent's responsibility anymore, but the responsibility of the community as well. In order to truly invoke a drastic change, we must continue to track health records and nutritional resources in the community. I found a quotation by Haboush, (2011), “The welfare of our children involves efforts at all levels of the community and it is our hope that this information will be used to increase community-based research, and activate appropriate efforts to reduce childhood obesity and its associated negative effects on children's wellbeing.” With this in mind, I would like everyone to think about the next time we give a child a fatty snack in order to silence them when we could give and display a healthier alternative to the unhealthy mainstream.
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