Socioeconomic Status and Childhood Obesity

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Introduction

Over the last few years, the rates of obesity among both children and adults have been on the rise (Rogers et al., 2015). One impact that can increase the risk of someone becoming obese is their socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status encompasses more than just the financial resources that someone has access to, it is more of an accumulation of income, occupation, and education (Socioeconomic Status, n.d.).

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One’s socioeconomic status can impact not only access to resources, but also privilege and control (Socioeconomic Status, n.d.). This paper is going to prove the relationship between poor socioeconomic status and childhood obesity in rural communities.

Background

The American Heart Association describes obesity as a person who has a body mass index (BMI) of over 30, in other words you weigh 20% more than your ideal weight (Obesity Information, 2014). Nearly 70 percent of adults in America fall into this overweight or obese category, so it is a fairly common affliction in this country (Obesity Information, 2014). When it comes to American youth, about one in three children aged 2-19 are obese (Obesity Information, 2014). And unfortunately research shows that children that are obese are more likely to be obese once they reach adulthood (Cole et al., 2000). Obesity can also be dangerous for your health. It is a known risk factor of high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, and even certain cancers (Obesity Information, 2014).

Childhood obesity also has its slew of more specific risk factors. Child development can be curbed by the mechanical stress caused by the access weight, as well as consequences of adipose tissue disrupting normal organ function (Lutfiyya et al., 2012). Even more rarely discussed is the psychological impact that being overweight has on the development of young children and teens (Lutfiyya et al., 2012). Children living in rural areas are also at a higher risk of poverty, no health insurance, no preventive care in the past year, and little physical activity (Lutfiyya et al., 2012).

Obesity is not a disease that develops overnight. This is a chronic condition that can take years to slowly manifest. It is a learned and repeated habit of eating too much and exercising too little (Harvard Health Publishing, 2017). There are a few other indicators like that some individuals are genetically more likely to become obese, but the largest risk factor is the link to behavior (Harvard Health Publishing, 2017). The modern world’s heavily sedentary lifestyle is another factor, for example an average American spends 4 hours watching television a day (Harvard Health Publishing, 2017).

An activity that expends little to no calories compared to walking or other types of exercises.
One piece of research that is proving to be very interesting is the role of food advertisements in this cycle.

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