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Obesity is a health disorder where extra body fat accumulates to the extent of health complications. Obesity is usually as a result of disproportion of calories this means that too few calories are released for the amount of calories consumed. Factors leading to this condition range from hereditary, behavioral, and environmental. Statistics reveal that children obesity has increased considerably over the years. The dominance of obesity among kids aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The implications of obesity can either be short lived or long term. Obese children are more prone to bone and joint, they also experience social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-concept. These children are more likely to experience heart- cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke, several cancer diseases.
Several schools of thought and theorists have come with different opinions on the explanations of causes, prevalence, attitude and implications of obesity on children. The functionalist theorists states that some societal needs must be fulfilled for a social system to exist. The social system aims to sustain equilibrium through the socialization of its members into the elementary standards and norms of the society. A Variety of social control mechanisms are there to reinstate conformity when the rules are not adhered to, or to isolate non-conforming members from the rest of society. The society does not take obesity as a norm thereby parents of obese children are considered as neglectful and irresponsible as they do not control their children intake of food nor do they encourage their children to take exercises.
The society believes that the many obese people lack self-control of their eating habits and that they do not engage in exercises as they ought to. The mechanism set by the society in regard to controlling obesity involves stigmatization and isolation. Social stigma is an unwanted or demeaning characteristic that a person has and which consequently reduces that individual's status in the eyes of the society. The stigma, stereotypes and beliefs attached to obese children adds to the burden of the disorder and makes it almost impossible to manage. Their parents often end up concealing their kids and secluding them from other kids and social functions for the fear of becoming outcasts.
Conflict theory is states that the society and its components are in conflict that is entirely based on power and how power is controlled and maintained. Conflict theorists describe obesity as a result of the living conditions, stress and poor dietary that the poor or those that are not in power are subjected to. Conflict theorists continue to ascertain that the poor individual can only afford cheap commodities that may be unhealthy for consumption. At the same time the ruling classes are able to afford the goodies of life and in most cases the children will have more than enough to feed on unlike the poor children. Though this theory clearly fails to explain why there are obese children on both sides. Obese individuals are in a conflict with the healthy individuals who view them as unhealthy and unfit in the society, this discrimination continues building the antagonism between the two.
Symbolic interactionists' theory centers around the subjective facets of social life, rather than on objective, macro-structural aspects of social systems. It sees every individual as an actor who performs and understands symbols within every interaction. The interactionists view obese as a connotation of the ability to resist food and inability to exercise. For instance the moment one sees an obese child there is an attribution of the parents failure to control the obese kid. Feminists view obesity as a cause of inequality in resources and social assets, i.e. economically, educationally, socially and physically. This results to the children being disadvantaged in many ways due to their weight and left with no appropriate mechanisms to manage and reduce their weight. The manifest theorist tries to explain that the results are what people expect and desire. It views that the people expect and desire to be obese and so they do whatever is possible to be obese. The actions are deliberate and calculated.
It is the responsibility of the parents, teachers and other stakeholders to educate and inform children and teenagers on the dangers of being obese and on the measures to take to avoid being obese (or managing obesity for those who are already victims).