Every year in the United States there is a rise in the prevalence of obese people as well as obese children. There is much controversy though of what the underlying cause is of obesity in adults and children. In this paper I will focus on the roles of nature and nurture in childhood obesity.
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Many people say that biology, genetics, and environmental factors have a huge role in this overwhelming number of obese children in the United States, but is there one with a greater influence than all of the others? For example statistics state that children have an 80% chance of becoming obese if their parents are both obese and a 50% chance of becoming obese if only one of their parents is obese (Benioff Children’s Hospital, 2018). Right now there are two sides to the argument of why there is an epidemic of obesity in children throughout the United States.
The one side is nature in which we can look towards children’s specific genetic makeup, predetermined physiological range, genetic alterations, and advantageous gene selection to help explain childhood obesity. The other side is nurture in which we can look towards children’s physical inactivity, sociodemographic features, and their diet to help explain childhood obesity rates. There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity, but is there a single factor that is more influential than all of the others? This is where the debate of nature versus nurture and their influence on childhood obesity begins.
On the side of nature leading to childhood obesity, there are various biological factors that have been discovered to cause obesity. In detail, the understanding that childhood obesity is caused by nature implies that one’s own genetic inheritance influences a child’s risk for developing obesity. Specifically, the genetic material provides the framework to develop an individual and is therefore important to examine when trying to gain a better understanding on the contributing factors to the obesity epidemic. In depth, obesity has been linked back to biological factors, such as one’s genetic makeup by examining the body’s natural physiological ranges, genetic alterations, and advantageous allelic selection.
Our body’s natural tendency to maintain a certain weight and stature, based on the amount of energy our bodies require, can lead to childhood obesity. According to an interview with Dr. Randy Seeley, director of Nutrition Obesity Research Center at MIT, our bodies have the ability to regulate fat via the hormone leptin. Leptin is produced by our body’s adipose cells to regulate the satiety and hunger centers in our brain, in which leptin travels to the hypothalamus to increase the satiety center (feeling of fullness) and decrease the hunger center (Cortell, 2014). This feedback mechanism tells us that our bodies have predetermined ranges for the amount of energy it requires to perform its daily bodily functions and activities.
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