The causes of obesity are multiple, interactional, and complex with many causal contributors: cheap calorie-dense food, the glitzy marketing of super-sized portions, few sidewalks in urban environment making residents car dependent, students being bused to school rather than walking; dependence on computers for recreation and television entertainment are contributing barriers to a child’s healthy lifestyle, all fueling the obesity crisis.
Bureaucrats have followed the tenet that poor food choice interventions must involve an increase in an individual’s personal valuation of health and that by understanding adolescents’ perceptions towards food and nutrition along with factors that influence their food behavior, nutrition intervention models can be designed and adolescents can be convinced to follow them. Federally sponsored nutrition literacy training and exercise incentive programs intended to motivate a change in adolescent eating behavior are proving ineffective.
Adolescent obesity is approaching 25% in the United States. Being overweight during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension, respiratory ailments, orthopedic problems, depression and Type 2 Diabetes as a youth. The hospital costs alone associated with childhood obesity were estimated at $127 million during 1997–1999 up from $35 million during 1979–1981. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that an increased fat mass accelerates puberty in girls; girls with higher BMI reach puberty earlier than normal-weight counterparts.
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