The problem of obesity is still a prevalent one in the American society. It is often looked at from the perspective of meeting the beauty standards, standing up to ‘fat shaming’, or fighting for the condition of your health. The subject gets even more ‘touchy’ when ethical questions are stirred up pertaining to medical issues of overweight children. Professors often assign this essay topic to their class to get the conversation going. The essay found below can serve as an example to one of these works and not meant for reproductive purposes.

The Ethical Dilemma in Treating Childhood Obesity

The problem of obesity is still a prevalent one in the American society. It is often looked at from the perspective of meeting the beauty standards, standing up to ‘fat shaming’, or fighting for the condition of your health. The subject gets even more ‘touchy’ when ethical questions are stirred up pertaining to medical issues of overweight children. Professors often assign this essay topic to their class to get the conversation going. The essay found below can serve as an example to one of these works and not meant for reproductive purposes.

The Ethical Dilemma in Treating Childhood Obesity

Since the 1970s, the childhood obesity percentage in the United States has more than tripled. Recent data shows that nearly every fifth teenager and young fellow 6 to 19 years of age suffers from obesity. In other words, approximately 20% of all American children have problems with excessive body fat.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the easiest and most common way of measuring whether one is overweight or not. To screen your BMI, simply divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters (not centimeters), then, divide the results by your height (meters) once again to get your BMI score in kg/m2. You can then crosscheck your results with BMI categories:

  • – Underweight = <18.5
  • – Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • – Overweight = 25–29.9
  • – Obesity = >30

The simplicity of these calculations makes excessive weight measurement accessible to everyone. However, what many young people fail to acknowledge is that this data can lead to the inception of destructive thoughts unless approached in the right mindset. For instance, with pop-culture dictating a certain ‘perfect body image’, you can either refer to evaluation results of the current condition of your body for healthy lifestyle motivation purposes or fail to meet initially inflated expectations. This leads to being fixed on the idea that you are overweight. Unless this information is handled correctly, it can lead to problems with self-esteem, self-shaming, or depression.

Unfortunately, with children in question, parents too come into play. Often, body standards — objective or not — inspired by the parents have a tremendous impact on how a child views oneself. Even kids with the BMI of the Normal weight category often perceive themselves as ‘not good enough’. Some teens, regardless of their BMI, get so caught up in the idea of being unfit that they develop eating disorders, low self-esteem, and even consider surgical intervention.

That’s where ethical disagreement and controversy kick in. In particular, the dilemma revolves around the treatment and whether it should be withdrawn, withheld or altogether canceled. The complication of teenage perfect body aspirations is amplified by the possible uncertainty in the caretakers’ motives.

For example, the cases when fit parents approve of bariatric surgery for their own adolescent flesh and blood need more vigilance from the doctor to prevent harming a child incapable of making adult decisions just yet. After all, parents’ consent to surgical treatment, among all possible factors, can be driven by sheer aesthetics. Often, there is no complete understanding of unnecessary and irreversible lifelong compliance with eating modifications, potential complications, behavioral change, and other worrisome consequences done in favor of a fitting the body image.

The number of bariatric surgeries performed on teenagers between 12 to 18 years old has tripled between 2000 and 2009. Unfortunately, a lot of these irreversible decisions could have been avoided with the help of alternative methods of overcoming obesity. That, too, easily falls into the dilemma category. Before the surgical treatment of obesity, the doctors have to double-check to ensure that both the parents and the child have taken to heart natural methods of dealing with causes of excess weight. The basic actions parents can take are the following:

  • Increase access to affordable healthy meals, treats, and desserts at home.
  • Increase the time and intensity of children’s athletic activity and games when they are out-of-school.
  • Encourage physical activities and active lifestyle by cultivating a suitable environment and habits in the family.
  • Break unhealthy eating patterns. Reduce child’s exposure to marketing of unhealthy foods.
  • Limit the consumption of junk food, empty calories, an excessive amount of sugars, etc. In other words, all food that puts a child at risk of getting diabetes or other diseases and medical problems.
  • Pay attention to symptoms in the areas of genetic infirmity and take preventative action before a child hits puberty.

Pair this with a healthy rest, sufficient sleep, changes in metabolism and return to hormonal balance and you are soon to see the results.

The problem with childhood obesity is relevant to this day and with it, the ethical dilemma of its treatment. Fortunately, with enough education on the issue, surgical intervention is not the only option parents have, to ensure the well-being of their child.