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There is a saying for when it comes to eating and gaining weight — and no offense by the way. That saying is, “You are what you eat.” But letting this be the case for adults, what about for children, adolescents, and teenagers as well? For some youths that come from different backgrounds and descents of different ethnicities, their forms of obesity are based on their ethnicity. This is the case for children and adolescents of African-American descent, Latino-American descent, and Asian-American descent. As the experiences of obesity from different ethnicities are being shown, the solutions in combatting against obesity are shown as well so that the next generation of adolescents won’t have to suffer like some are. While there are some adolescents of different ethnicities that fall under the clutches of obesity, restaurants, companies, schools, and children and adolescents that fall under this disorder should change the foods that are served and consumed and alter their habits in order to fight against childhood obesity.

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Among the various minorities in the United States, childhood obesity is “prevalent among African American children” (Davis et. al 1). In other words, obesity is a concern for African American adolescents due to causes that vary from family to socio-economic causes. According to a study conducted by Dr. Melvin Davis, Young, Sheila P. Davis, and Moll, they found out, in the state of Mississippi, that obesity in African American adolescents is high in girls than in boys. This is proven with the study showing that 49% of African American girls were obese while 39% of African American boys (Davis et. al 1) were obese. In a sense, gender role also plays a role in adolescent obesity. Another cause to adolescent obesity in African American adolescents and teenagers are parenting styles. According to researchers, they stated that “parenting style is likely to be a fruitful area of current research into childhood obesity etiology” (Davis et. al 2). The reason for this being that parenting styles are “essential for controlling childhood obesity” (Davis et. al 2). More specifically, the control factor towards childhood obesity is based on the interaction between children and parents. According to Davis and her research group, they stated that depression “appeared to compromise African American mothers abilities to engage in more optimal forms of parenting” (2). In other words, depression in parents is a negating factor when it comes to bonding with children while dealing with childhood obesity. Another factor for childhood obesity in African American adolescents is that the parents “have a history of trying unsuccessfully to help their child lose weight” (Davis et. al 2). That being said, parents sometimes have a misunderstanding of how their children deal with childhood obesity and find different ways in dealing with it. But while there may be ways for their children, there were unsuccessful outcomes to those solutions. Another factor to childhood obesity in African American adolescents is the family’s history. According to Davis and her group, she stated, based on their research and interviews with the parents that participated in the experiment, that “14% of their siblings were obese, and 32% of the parents had an obese grandparent” (3). While African American children are affected by childhood obesity, Latino American children are also similarly affected in the same way as African American children.

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In a study conducted by Gloria P. Martinez, her research showed that 44% of Hispanic and 32.2% of non-white Hispanic adolescents (Martinez 1) suffered from childhood obesity. In comparison to African American children, her researched also proved that there is a “prevalence of obesity among Mexican Americans and Hispanic Blacks” (Martinez 2) with a percentage of 49.2% African American children (Martinez 1) that are found to be overweight. The main cause of child obesity in Latino American adolescents are the culture and habits absorbed once they spend time in the United States doing activities that increases their weight. Specifically, the main cause is that “they adopt American lifestyles behaviors and social norms” (Martinez 2) such as binge-watching and eating foods that are high in fat and sugar. Another cause to obesity in Latino American adolescents are the types of foods they would eat. In a study conducted by Guerrero, Ponce, and Chung, it is stated in their research that Latino American children have a higher tendency for fast food and sugary foods and drinks than vegetables and fruits (Guerrero et. al 4). Moreover, Guerrero and her group’s study shows that Latino American children are “less likely to consume 2 or more vegetable servings in the previous day than their non-Mexican Latino counterparts” (Guerrero et. al 3). Specifically, Latino American adolescents have less healthy foods in comparison to Asian American adolescents. According to Guerrero, Ponce, and Chung, their study showed that Asian American adolescents — specifically Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese adolescents — have a tendency for vegetables and healthy foods than Latino adolescents (Guerrero et. al 4). When it comes to fast food, Korean and Filipino adolescents share the same rate of tendency in fast food as Latino adolescents (Guerrero et. al 4). In comparison between Asian and Latino American children and adolescent, their obesity rates are almost similar except at the point where Latino American children prefer fast foods and high calorie foods and beverages than vegetables. 

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In regards to the aformentioned ethnicities, one of the places of childhood obesity can be found in schools. According to Suarez-Balcazar et. al, there are many cases in which schools “are grappling with the problem of unhealthy lunch options and unhealthy items in  the vending machines” (1). In California, there was an instance in which the state banned junk foods and drinks from vending machines in schools and introduced salad bars in the luncheon menu (Suarez-Balcazar et. al 2). While that’s not enough, many people from schools were “concerned about the school luncheons and vending machines” (Suarez-Balcazar et. al 2) since it wasn’t enough to combat obesity. Another state that had a similar movement was in Illinois. Taking place in Chicago public schools, the CFSC, known as the Chicago Food System Collaborative, was formed in order “to help increase access to healthy foods in a minority community” (Suarez-Balcazar et. al 3). Furthermore, Chicago public schools were given salad bar luncheons by the Cool Food group which “involved contracting with the existing school food service vendors in order to include a salad bar option in a few of schools at a time” (Suarez-Balcazar et. al 7). 

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While adolescents may be enjoying fast foods, soft drinks, and anything else they can get their hands on, there are ways to fight against childhood obesity and change the lifestyles that these adolescents conform to when it comes to food, drinks, and activities that are easy to enjoy and indulge yourself in. One way children, adolescents, and teens can fight against obesity is reducing how much food and drinks they consume. Also known as dosing, it is a way to moderate how much children can intake so that they don’t accumulate too much body fat while indulging in food and drinks and not exercising. According to Hoelscher, Byrd-Williams, and Sharma, they stated that dosing “has been found to be significantly associated with outcomes in child obesity-prevention interventions” (2). Dosing is a common action when it comes to dieting and exercising in order to fight against obesity. Another factor that can be considered is considering environmental factors inside and outside the places you go and in the food and drinks you consume. When it comes to kids’ meals in fast food restaurants and in other foods that are deemed healthy as inscribed on the label or as seen on TV, they may not be as healthy as it seems. As it turns out, “commercials still promote predominantly unhealthy food” (Hoelscher et. al 2). So while there are some foods that are not-so healthy, there are other healthy options to consider. Another factor in environmental causes to obesity are the limited number of places for children to play in. According to Hoelscher et. al, “the lack of safe play areas can decrease physical activity opportunities for preschool children” (2). It is not just in the play areas for small children, but also in the places that adolescents could go to for exercise as they grow. Sure they can’t go to a children’ playground — unless if they want to do so. But there are other places that adolescents can exercise in, such as the park, basketball court, tennis court, and even the gym.

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With obesity being a common concern for today’s adolescents, especially children of different ethnicities, that concern can be combatted with the actions of moderating the intake of high calorie food and drinks, having more healthy options, and exercising. Obesity is not a joke, especially for some of us who may be in this problem. The problem of obesity comes from internal causes — such as what we eat and drink; if we exercise or not; what bad habits we have; history of obesity in the family bloodline — and external causes — such as how restaurants and companies give out their products; how the environment affects what children and adolescents eat, drink, and exercise. 

Annotated Bibliography

Davis, Melvin, et al. “Parental Depression, Family Functioning and Obesity among African American Children.” Journal of Cultural Diversity, vol. 15, no. 2, Summer 2008, pp. 61– 65. EBSCOhost,

This article talks about the different causes of child obesity in African American children. These causes varied from social, from within the relationship between parents and children, to the background history of the family. This article will be used to show the causes and statistics regarding child obesity in African American children. Melvin Davis is a professor from Jackson State University and is a part of the university’s Department of Psychology. Sheila P. Davis is from the University of Southern Mississippi. George Moll is from the University of Mississippi’s Medical Center.

Guerrero, Alma D., et al. “Obesogenic Dietary Practices of Latino and Asian Subgroups of Children in California: An Analysis of the California Health Interview Survey, 2007-2012.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 105, no. 8, Aug. 2015, pp. e105– e112.

This article discusses childhood obesity in regards to Latino and Asian American children. Moreover, this article shows a comparison of obesity rates between Latino and Asian American adolescents. This article will be used to convey the statistics and characteristics of obesity in Latino American and Asian American children. Alma D. Guerrero is from UCLA’s Department of Pediatrics and David Geffen School of Medicine; she also has connections with the Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute and Mattel Children’s Hospital. Paul J. Chung is from UCLA’s Department of Health Policy and Management and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. He also works with Guerrero in UCLA’s Department of Pediatrics and the David Geffen School of Medicine. Ninez A. Ponce is from the Center for Health Policy and Management, Center for Global and Immigrant Health, and UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

Hoelscher, Deanna M., et al. “Prevention of Obesity in Early Childhood: What Are the Next Steps?” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 108, no. 12, Dec. 2018, pp. 1585–1587.

The article discusses some solutions in fighting against childhood obesity. These solutions range from dealing with restaurants and companies that supposedly give out healthy foods, the places where children can be active, and much more. This article will be used to show that there are solutions for children, adolescents, and teens in combatting against childhood obesity.  Deanna M. Hoelscher and Courtney E. Byrd-Williams are affiliated with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas’s Department of Health Promotion/Behavioral Sciences. Shreela V. Sharma is affiliated with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, the University of Texas’s Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Science.

Martinez, Gloria. “52. Social and Cultural Correlates of Latino Children’s and Adolescent Obesity.” Conference Papers — American Sociological Association, 2009 Annual Meeting 2009, p. 1.

This article discusses the statistics of childhood obesity in African American and Latino American children. Moreover, this article specifically shows the perspective of Latino American adolescents being under the veils of childhood obesity and how they cope with it. This article will be used to compare the forms of childhood obesity between African American and Latino American children. Gloria P. Martinez is a professor at Texas State University and is a part of the Department of Sociology.

Suarez-Balcazar, Yolanda, et al. “Introducing Systems Change in the Schools: The Case of School Luncheons and Vending Machines.” American Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 39, no. 3/4, June 2007, pp. 335–345.

In this article, the story of unhealthy luncheons and vending machines are told in this article written by Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar and her group. These narratives are told based on their observations in public schools in both California and Chicago. This article will be used to discuss how schools were places that influenced childhood obesity through their unhealthy luncheons and junk foods and beverages given to adolescents through vending machines. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar is from the University of Illinois’s College of Applied Health Sciences. LaDonna Redmond is Minnesota’s District 3 Hennepin County Commissioner and is currently a part of The Pollination Project as a part of the project of food justice. Joanne Kouba is a dietitian and a professor at Loyola University Chicago. Rochelle Davis is from the Healthy Schools Campaign. Louise I. Martinez is from the University of Illinois’s College of Applied Health Sciences. Lara Jones is from the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC).