Childhood Obesity in the USA


With the worrying trends in childhood obesity recorded in the United States, various policy frameworks have been proposed and embraced with differing levels of success in the management of the problem (Currie-McGhee, 2012). It is worth noting that the number of children with obesity has been on the upward trend over the years amidst great concern and commitment of the stakeholders in the health sector to raise the alarm and manage the issue (Birch, Burns, & Parker, 2011; Hojjat, 2015). In fact, the percentage of obese adolescent aged between 6-11 years increased from 7% to 18% in 1980 and 2012 respectively (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, Flegal, 2014). In addition, the percentage increased from 5% to 21% for adolescent aged 12-19 years during the same period. Various policies have been used with varying degree of effectiveness in reducing the prevalence of obesity recorded in the children (Frieden, Dietz & Collins, 2010). This paper outlines and analyzes three policy frameworks that would be harnessed to manage the challenge of rising rates of children suffering from the overweight conditions.

Physical Exercises

Among other policies that have been embraced and which presents most sure preventive strategy in managing the increase in obesity cases are the policy on increased physical activities (Gnadinger, 2014). Various approaches have been used to encourage children to engage in physical exercises for the children both at school and when at home. For instance, the inclusion of the physical studies in the school curriculum would be pointed out as strategic in ensuring that children engage in physical exercises, especially through games and extra-curricular activities (Gonçalves, et al., 2016). Among other benefits of the engagement in sporting activities would be combustion of the fatty tissues in the body to avoid gaining a lot of weight (Rowe, Borra, & Kelly, 2003).

Nutrition Policies

Secondly, the policy makers have highlighted the need to develop and impose the appropriate food (nutrition) policies, which are likely to lower the cases of obesity (Waters, 2010). The government has the primary role in developing and imposing the policy frameworks on better dieting in the society to overcome childhood obesity (Totura, Figueroa, Wharton, & Marsiglia, 2015). For instance, if the government alters the relative food prices, shifts the exposure to food by individuals and improving the image of food to the public, then the challenge of increased cases of obesity with children would be reduced (Ács, Lyles, & Stanton, 2007). The argument in the policy is that the government has the potential of influencing the attributes highlighted. By subsidizing the costs of food production, then the government would alter the prices in the market and hence influence the affordability by the public (Longjohn, et al., 2010). Similarly, the government would regulate the sale of ‘unhealthy’ foods in the retail outlets so as to reduce the accessibility of the products to the children (Langwith, 2013). Finally, the government can regulate the packaging and poor advertising done by the food retailers. Through the appropriate packaging, the public would be shielded against the poor image of the unhealthy foods such as the junk foods; hence, reduce the attractiveness to the public and the children (Unger, Kreeger, & Christoffel, 1990).


Zoning is another strategy that if well implemented, would facilitate a reduction in the rates of obesity with the children in the US. The policy regards having the government impose laws that would restrict the establishment and running of fast food retail outlets in the residential areas and near the schools (Jordan, 2008). The effectiveness of the policy would be through making the fast foods not easily accessible to the children (Heerman, et al., 2016). The closer the foods are for the children, the higher the likelihood of a child to access the food; hence, that would increase the cases of obesity as associated with the fast foods (Tuschen-Caffier & SchlSsel, 2005). While the government would have the biggest role in zoning, the people, and the society would equally play a significant role in facilitating zoning.


As is evident from the above analysis, the paper highlights three primary policies through which the increase in cases of obesity in children would be addressed. The policies discussed will ensure that children engage in physical exercises, ensuring that the nutritional needs of the children are prioritized as well as regulating the establishment of the fast food joints as alluded to in the zoning aspect.


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