W3 Activity: Childhood Obesity in America

It is no secret that obesity is an epidemic in America, and we can thank both our culture and our genes for that.  Like the stress associated with being a person of color in the United States, obesity is a health problem that is highly correlated with low income. One study conducted in various locations across the country helped show even more factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Breaking up several cities in one state based on median income gave the researchers the ability to break down several behaviors or tendencies and their frequency in each income bracket.  The most important factors, “low weekly levels of moderate physical exercise, high levels of daily television viewing, and routine participation in a school lunch program” were a major part of the study, which aimed to learn how each unique community affected thee main factors.  Once each student’s weight and height were documented, BMI was used to designate a student as obese or not and each student was asked to fill out questionnaires regarding the amount of TV they watch, the food they eat and the level of exercise they achieve every day.  Once the results were gathered, it was clear how big of an impact income has on a child’s daily life.  The children in low income cities watched considerably more TV, ate less nutritious food and were able to exercise less, all factors that contribute to obesity. A low income is either directly or indirectly responsible for these things. People with little money are often unable to purchase nutritious food, leaving only the obesity inducing, high sugar and fat foods available to them. In other countries, cheap nutritious food or even cheap food not high in sugar would be an option for its poor citizens, but Americans are often forced to consume junk. Furthermore, low income households are often in neighborhoods with very few public parks to exercise in, and a parent strapped for cash won’t be able to enroll their child in activities like sports to keep them active, while in developing countries, physical activity is usually not optional, and sports are played informally. All these factors contributed to the overall result- the communities with a higher median income also had less children who qualify as obese.
Eagle, Taylor F., Anne Sheetz, Roopa Gurm, Alan C. Woodward, Eva Kline-Rogers, Robert Leibowitz, Jean Durussel-Weston, Lavaughn Palma-Davis, Susan Aaronson, Catherine M. Fitzgerald, Lindsey R. Mitchell, Bruce Rogers, Patricia Bruenger, Katherine A. Skala, Caren Goldberg, Elizabeth A. Jackson, Steven R. Erickson, and Kim A. Eagle. “Understanding Childhood Obesity in America: Linkages between Household Income, Community Resources, and Children’s Behaviors.” American Heart Journal 163.5 (2012): 836-43. Web.


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One thought on “W3 Activity: Childhood Obesity in America

  1. Admittedly at first I questioned whether obesity could be a culture bound syndrome in the United States. But after reading your blog post and thinking about it, I think it does fall under that category. To me, culture is defined as all of the things that make a particular group unique. And we part of the things we do as a society are leading us down the path of society. A simple trip to the grocery store can show aisle after aisle of cheap, calorie laden, heavily processed food that greatly outnumbers the area of fresh food. Commercials on TV aren’t talking about eating fruits and vegetables, they show all of the different restaurants where one can eat several days’ worth of food in a single sitting. We watch more TV and exercise less than many other countries (although many of these things seem to be changing slowly with our generation. Ironically I was just talking to some of my coworkers (from eastern European countries) about this. They discussed how different things are in countries such as Albania or Kosovo. There are smaller markets with local, fresh food. Everybody bikes or walks to where they’re going. This is just the way they are, it’s their culture. And because we miss the mark on so many of these things, I feel that obesity is part of our culture.

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