Obesity is one of the major health problems among children today. This is evident from the United States and many developed countries in the world. Pediatrics in the past has come up with different ways of addressing the issue for instance by encouraging much time for physical activity in schools. They have also argued that television viewing in children should be reduced to at least two hours per day (Crane et al. 2013). These efforts have borne no fruits since obesity among children still remains to be a big challenge. Studies that have been carried in the past have showed that the major cause of obesity is eating junk food and lack of exercise. However, it has not been answered what really makes children not to have physical exercises like sporting and what makes them consume junk foods yet they have been warned that it will make them overweight. There are attributes that TV viewing is the main reason why children consume junk foods because of the different adverts that they are exposed to (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). It also denies them the opportunity to have physical exercises. Therefore, it is argued that there is a direct relationship between TV viewing in children and child obesity.
Although researchers have strongly supported TV viewing to be a major cause of obesity in children, there have been no longitudinal studies of childhood viewing and their health. In addition, it has not been explained how TV viewing can contribute to overweight in children yet some argue that it is a psychological activity that makes them active in one way or the other (Kimm, 2003). This study will be aimed at looking at the relationship between television viewing and childhood obesity.
Background and Rationale
Television viewing among children is said to be worse because research has shown that more than 70 percent of them have TV in the bedroom. They are said to spend most of their time watching television when they are not in school. This is more with American children aged 8 to 18 years (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). Researchers have found that television viewing among children results to increased wait specifically high waist circumference. It is directly related to obesity, however, this is said to happen in two different ways. The first one is the idleness whereby children do not have time for exercise. This results to increased weight. The other side of the matter looks at the adverts in the television. There are many ads on unhealthy or junk food that the children get attracted to an end up getting the foods. This is also contributes to obesity in children.
Since the United States has received alarming increases in childhood obesity, treatments have been developed to help. This has, however, being unsuccessful because the results have been modest. Prevention is the only way childhood obesity can be reduced. Most prevention measures relate to increase in physical activity, two hours of TV viewing in a day, and healthy diets (Crane et al. 2013). It has not been well understood how TV can be a cause of obesity in children because many of the studies that have been carried out in the past have shown lack of physical exercises and unhealthy diets as the major causes of the disease. This calls for the need to find the relationship between television viewing and childhood obesity.
The objectives of this research will be:
1. To find out the relationship between television viewing in children and childhood obesity
2. To find out how TV viewing can result to increased weight in children
3. To find out whether limiting the time children watch TV can help address childhood obesity
Research Hypotheses and/or Research Questions
The study will be directed by the three objectives that have been stated so that it can answer the question:
What is the relationship between television viewing and childhood obesity?
Significance of Study
This study is crucial because it will provide evidence on how TV viewing is resulting to overweight in children. Many parents do not have information on this which makes them not to control the time their children are exposed to TV viewing. Therefore, when they get the information it will be expected that they will take corrective measures to ensure that their children are not exposed to TV viewing for long. They will be made aware of the risks of TV viewing in their children.
The study will also fill a gap on the different ways in which television viewing can result to overweight and childhood obesity. Most of the studies that have been carried out in the past have only showed TV viewing as a sedentary activity that increases the risk of obesity; however, they have failed to show how this happens (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). The study will therefore, bring in new information in the field to show how TV viewing can contribute to childhood obesity.
Obesity in Children
According to Kimm (2003), childhood obesity is ‘an emerging pandemic of the century’. This has been marked by increase in the number of children with obesity over the last two decades. Over the period childhood obesity has been observed to increase by 50 percent and the number has doubled that of adults with obesity. In the United States it believed that 20-25% of children have obesity. Childhood obesity has become a major public health problem in the United States just like it is many countries in the world. The major problem with the disease is that it affects children in their childhood and later in their adulthood.
Factors Influencing Obesity in Children
Mitchell, Pate & Liese (2013) came up with 15 chromosomal loci that were linked to weight, body fat, and other obesity related trains. There were seven genes that they identified as possible causes of obesity in humans. It was also found that obesity results from the interaction of multiple genes and not from a single gene. However, this is not a major cause of obesity in children because it is stimulated by other factors like food intake. On its own genetic factors cannot strongly account for overweight and obesity in children.
This refers to a situation where there is increased energy intake and decreased energy expenditure. It can simply be explained as lack of exercise and idleness. This is a major cause of childhood obesity because of incidental snacks. Children will eat without plans and in most cases they watch TV while having snacks next to them. Between meals children have been observed to do much snacking (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). This results to accumulation of fats in the body because they are not doing any exercise which can lower the energy intake. This eventually results to increase in weight and obesity.
This is the main cause of obesity in children. It is defined through inactivity where children will spend most of their time in sedentary activities. These are activities that do not promote physical activity like browsing, playing games, watching movies and generally TV viewing. In the digital age browsing is a major cause of inactivity in children because they spent most of their in social networks. Some like Facebook and Twitter are very addictive and will end up consuming much time of the children. This results to increased BMI. McLennan (2004) made it clear that substitution of sedentary activities in children is the only way children can be secured from obesity (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). This is because they will also be prevented from junk eating because during the sedentary activities they engage too much in snacking.
Coakley (2003) identifies the media to be a major cause of obesity in children however this has not been observed by many people. If we look at the ads in the media we will see that majority of them that are related to food advertise junk foods. This is because they are on high demand and each entrepreneur in the business is trying to pursuit for a competitive advantage through advertising (McLunnan, 2003). There are only few adverts that encourage good nutrition. This encourages children to eat these junk foods. It encourages unhealthy lifestyle and as much as children will try to avoid they will be encouraged and tempted by the adverts in the media.
There is evidence that the lifestyle of parents has an impact on childhood obesity. For instance, parents who do not take any exercise are likely to encourage their children not to take any exercise. If parents are consuming too much of junk foods this is likely to be the case with their children. In many cases it has also been observed that parents involve children in their leisure activities like travelling and watching movies which further encourages inactivity in children. The end result of this is overweight and obesity.
TV Viewing in Children
TV watching is the favorite pastime in the United States just like it is in many parts of the world. According to pediatrics children are supposed to view a maximum of two hours per day, but this is not the case because the time spent on TV by many children in the United States is over five hours. The worse is that many of them have TVs in their bedrooms. This makes it hard for parents to limit the time their children are exposed to the TV screen (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). It has been found out that TV viewing in children accounts a big percentage on their overweight and obesity.
The main reason why children are exposed to long time television is because of the lifestyles that they have been brought up in. in many families there are house helps who are left with the duty of caring for children. They just leave the television to keep the children busy as they perform other household chores. In addition, food is always available and the households will provide the food that the children want.
How TV Viewing Adds to Childhood Obesity
There is widespread speculation that TV watching is one of the most easily modifiable risk factors to obesity among children. American children spend more time playing games and watching television than doing anything else except sleeping (Coakley, 2003). Two primary mechanisms by which television viewing contributes to obesity have been suggested: reduced energy expenditure from displacement of physical activity and increased dietary energy intake, either during viewing or as a result of food advertising.
Researchers have found that TV watching can promote overweight and obesity in children in different ways. One of the main ways is that during TV viewing children are inactive. Since they spent much time watching television, they are idle and inactive. Therefore, they do not make use of the high energy intakes. The result is that the excess energy accumulates in the body making them overweight.
The other way is snacking whereby children have snacks close to them when playing games on their play stations or when watching TV. This increases their energy intake (Coakley, 2003). They also add their meals which further increasing their energy intakes yet they are not exercising.
TV viewing also promotes obesity in children through the different adverts. The adverts are mostly on junk foods because they are on high demand among adults. Consumption of junk foods in the country has been observed to increase by over 50 percent in the last two decades (Mitchell, Pate & Liese, 2013). The adverts encourage children to make purchases of such foods. As much as children will want to keep off from the junk foods, their battle is counteracted by pressure from the media.
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