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Cultural and Socioeconomic Issues of African-American Children and their Relationship with Obesity

Info: 2622 words (10 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 27th Nov 2020

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Tagged: obesityculture

Abstract

Obesity is a major problem that is threating the health and well-being of low-income, urban, African-American children. Do African-American children have among the highest rates of obesity in the United States of America and do they suffer from a variety of obesity-related illnesses. With research on social, cultural, and environmental factors from a montage of different forces that promote the weight gain in these children and also prevent them from losing the weight. What is holding back the political, health and religious leaders to develop new or revised strategies to improve the health of these children? How does as a society overcome its  fears, bigotry and other unspoken reasons to better understand and overcome the nutrition problems facing low-income African-American children living in the urban areas within our inner cities?

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"Ten to 20 percent of a population's well-being is determined by access to excellent health care, and that's great and we want to continue to provide that," stated Dr. Aparna Bole of University Hospitals. "But if we want to improve our community's overall well-being, we need to focus on social, economic, environmental, physical issues in the community."(Cleveland Scene 2019)

The statement from Dr. Bole is so true, that as a society should be focusing on the whole person and not just one aspect of that person, the part the cost the most. With the community are there enough practitioners to provide the care for all, or is it limited in its scope? Are there enough grocery stores in the urban landscape or is it a food desert and limited selection or one has to drive out of the neighborhood to get to a true grocery store.

If the city had more health care and human services, then crisis like this would not ravish the city like it is, if there are more human services, like access to mental health issues, breaking down the barriers to health care, like transportation, access to affordable medications and even pharmacies within the local neighborhood, that charge a fair rate and not an over-inflated rate for the medications. Also breaking down the barriers of care for the individuals, like having colon cancer screening, mammograms, A1C testing for diabetics, and retinal eye exams too. Treating preventable issues. (Cleveand.Com)

The cultural aspect of gaining access to health care and clinical trials is a major factor in how African American view To gain access to any clinical trials that could reduce the obesity rates in those in urban settings, and with a majority stating that trust is a major factor in being in a clinical trial, with the history of African Americans being lied too about clinical trials, most would not participate in them. (Banquet) 

The World Health Organization did a survey (the type of survey and the amount being surveyed was not given) of obese children being mocked, bullied, or just accepted being who they are in social or school settings. When if they experienced being bullied and a slight majority of 51% answered accepted and 24% answered mocked and 26% answered bullied. Since being obese is not a stigma that it once was in decades past. The obese children were acknowledging their obesity and this could be leading to diminishing victimization individuals who are overweight and obese. (Ruskin)

What do Captain Crunch, Coke, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Bud Light Beer and Applebee’s all have in common? We all know these television commercials, and they have become synonymous with the American lexicon on food and where we buy it. As Americans watch more and more television, the amount of obese people in America is increasing too. The more television that is watched, the more commercials are being seen and the changes of having a healthy diet may decrease.

Twenty-two percent of those commercials are for food products, either fast food or otherwise.  In the meantime, the percentage of obese Americans has grown from 15% in 1978 to 33.9% in 2008. (OECD)

With the growing variety of junk / fast foods that Americans have available to them, the chances of picking the right one or least un-healthy one is becoming increasingly more complicated but also more vital too. The health consequences of obesity can be deadly. As a person becomes heavier or to the point of being obese, his likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and stroke increase as well. (CDC)

As adults, there is a better understand the role of advertising and can make  a better choice, and yes if as adults that could make the wrong choice could have serious consequences to the health of the individual and have an increased cost to the health care system, but children need to be protected from distorted television commercials.

With the American health and more individuals becoming obese, it is so critical that Americans receive the best and most accurate information about the foods they can put into our bodies. The television advertising industry in the United States generates more billion dollars of annual revenue.

Television with the food advertisements often will tell of a story of healthy, active people with enviable lifestyles being able to eat and enjoy whatever they want, regardless of any nutritional deficiency to its products, but portrays those products as healthy or vital to one's well-being. (Television Facts and Statistics)

Back in the early 1960’s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) started to crack down cigarette television commercials, they found out that smoking was harmful to one’s health and the government started to police what type of commercials could be aired and when they could air them, then the FTC just stopped allowing cigarette commercials altogether, then the same thing happened in the print media, and now one does not see adds for cigarettes in social media, what is the hold-up with the unhealthy food that is being shown to the children and maybe this would help those who are affected the most.  Maybe eliminating the commercials for non-natural food is the way to go, but how would this be monitored and enforced?

Once it was found out that with scientific studies that smoking was unhealthy and could lead to cancer and other diseases, the FTC then told cigarette companies should be required to label on the cigarette package to warn those who smoked or may start to smoke of the dangers of smoking.  However, this failed and then Congress took it to the next level off of the advice of the FTC and mandated that the warning label read, "Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous To Your Health." (FDA 2019)   The labels on food, were introduced back in 1991, that the labels had to be more of the actual ingredients within the product and then revised in 2009 to show more of the makeup of the products, like trans-fats and saturated oils, however, does this really tell the consumer of what the product will do to them if they consume this for any length of time or at what volume that is healthy for them to eat?

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Even though a McDonald's Big Mac and or a Quarter Pounder, is not a healthy choice for a meal, but sells billions each year around the world. Could it be binge eating, marketing or just convenience and do American’s continue to make bad choices that are not in the best interests of their health, even though all of the nutritional information is readily at ones finger tips. With new technology and medical discoveries of the negative effects of eating junk food on people, there is an increasing need to have government regulation on how food is being advertised. The ill effects on one’s health, do food companies push advertising of products to the edge with no nutritional value. Is it aggressive marketing that shifts our attention away from our ethics and moral code and as more data comes to light about the negative health consequences, much like tobacco's history, again does there need to be more policies in place to have the food industry change.  (Wilson 2012)                           

Despite the FTC's attempt to regulate food advertisements targeted at children, most of the restrictions in place today are self-imposed by the food companies. For example, candy-maker Mars has its own "Marketing Code" and prohibits itself from such actions as advertising to children under age twelve or removing vending machines in elementary schools with candy and replacing them with fresh fruit. To some people, it might seem like the company is being health-conscious and noble in its efforts to protect the consumer from his own failure of self-restraint. The context surrounding this statement, however, tells a different story. Mars's consumer protective move fell exactly two weeks on the heels of the release of the University of California study that claims sugar is toxic and addictive. (Rochman, 2012)

There are new steps being put into place for the FTC and those are being challenged by political action committees to roll back and or roadblock the proposed act for Children's Advertising Rule. When the FTC was gearing up for this new proposed rule, the FTC came to the conclusion that found that advertisements targeting children ages twelve and younger were "inherently unfair and deceptive" because children of that age group are too young to understand the purpose of advertising. 

The rule suggested three things:

(1)   All television advertising where audiences were mostly children would be banned.

(2)   Advertising foods with high sugar content would be banned when the audiences were mostly between the ages of eight and twelve.

(3)   Sugared food advertisements would include health and nutrition facts when the audiences were mostly between the ages of eight and twelve.

This proposed rule, known as the "Kid Vid" proposal, was highly criticized by those in social media for being so broad that it would effectively limit all advertising and have regulatory implications that would reach far beyond the food industry. 

Apparently ahead of its time, the FTC learned a valuable lesson. Although the "Kid Vid" initiative was directly related to the government's interest in protecting children, the regulation was too broad of a subject line with no direct impact.  If any advertising regulation were to stand, it would have to make large enough progress towards a legitimate goal sufficient enough to justify the restriction on commercial and freedom of speech.

With cultural, social and environmental issues in the African American community, many factors are taking place.  That there is no one answer to solve this dilemma. That the stigma of being obese is less now than in the past and that the lack of quality health care, and how the children are being bombarded with television commercials and commercials in social media that something has to be done to limit how children are being educated wrong about their health and what is considered healthy.

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