Childhood obesity and poverty in America – Term Paper

Many stores in America have made it hard to access fresh foods and mostly have processed and canned foods for its customers. These foods are not healthy and when consumed frequently make one obese due to the high fats and preservatives in them. It is indicated by the data in White (2006) research that twenty percent of children drink more than four sodas daily. The low-income earners due to lack of finances opt to buy the available and affordable foods for their families regardless of their effects on their bodies and those of their children. The high-income earners have the resources and know the importance of eating fresh foods hence will ensure they buy them even if they are expensive. Obesity and Genetics journal asserts, “It’s not just genes that are the cause: socio-demographic and environmental elements are also contributing factors. Lower socioeconomic status, living in neighborhoods that aren’t walkable and poor access to fresh fruits and vegetables can all increase the risk of being overweight” (Obesity and genetics; childhood obesity is linked to poverty and parenting style, 2015). The canned and processed foods, therefore, end up affecting children from the low-income earners more than their high-income peers. In the end, the children from low-income families become obese because of the foods found in the food stores or supermarkets in America.

Nevertheless, critics of some researchers will probably argue that childhood obesity is not linked to poverty in America. Levine (2011) researched about the relation of obesity and poverty in the U.S and reviewed 3139 counties in America. He argued that high-income countries have higher rates of obesity than the low and middle-income states. He states that U.S being one of the wealthiest countries globally has a third of its population being overweight while another third has obesity. It is an indicator that more than half of America’s population is subjected to overweight issues. Therefore, not only poverty levels have brought up obesity levels rising as half of U.S population cannot be in high poverty levels. By focusing on America as a whole, Levine (2011) overlooks the deeper problem of each state’s culture and economic status thus their overweight and obesity issues may be brought up by different factors and just poverty.

 Schweizer (2006) did research on different poverty levels against the obesity statistics of children from these families. He stressed,” Obesity prevalence increased as poverty level declined across the five poverty levels with the exception that near poor children had slightly higher obesity prevalence than poor children” (Schweizer, 2006). The near-poor families have a better socioeconomic status than the poor families and hence would be expected to have lower proportions of obesity, but it did not turn out as per the expectations according to his research. It is therefore clear that it is not always true that people with high poverty levels are the ones that will end up with the highest levels of obesity. Miech et al. (2006) did a study on prevalence of overweight among adolescents from different poverty status. They discovered that nutritional trends have not affected older teenagers in poverty. According to the researchers, older adolescents have more choices on type of food they want and they make choices such as breakfast skipping, snacking between meals and eating away from home thus no impact of poverty on obesity levels in children. Miech et al (2006) has therefore argued that the older adolescents do not become obese for lack of finances at their homes but because of the choices, they make in their lives.

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Obesity has been found to be high among the minority races in America. Most of these races are not as financially stable as the majority races. They, therefore, lack enough money to afford good living conditions such as healthy lifestyles that have led to high obesity levels among children from these races. Hispanic and African-American adolescents are the most affected as indicated by 2002 statistics (White, 2006). Twenty-four percent of black girls and 19 percent of black boys were in the obese category of age group 12-19. Mexican-American girls, on the other hand, were 20 percent while the boys were 15 percent according to the statistics.  Doctors have realized that the overweight children have begun having breathing disorders, hypertension and bone and joint complications and in the long term develop forms of cancer and heart diseases.   

It would be important for the government to stand up and assist the low-income families to access adequate education, job opportunities and physical activity amenities. They will be strategies that will enable the children as well as adults from such families know the importance of eating well as well as earn more income and have better living standards. In the end, there will be few cases of obesity thus low cases of children suffering from adult diseases such as diabetes.


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