How Children Learn to Be Healthy

How Children Learn to Be Healthy

How Children Learn to Be Healthy

How Children Learn to Be Healthy

Synopsis

Exploring the ways in which children learn to be healthy, this book examines children's understanding of health, from early childhood through adolescence, and how it affects their behavior and actual physical health. The study scrutinizes the ways in which parents, other children, schools, media, and children's home and neighborhood influence children's health, attitudes and behavior.

Excerpt

The goal of this book is to explore the ways in which health behavior develops in childhood in the context of childhood socialization processes. In the first chapter, several issues are presented. The first aim is to define the state of children’s health in the United States. Most parents want their children to be safe and healthy, but implementing that desire can be a difficult and challenging process. According to recent surveys of Americans’ health habits, American parents and children are fatter, more stressed out, exercise less, and pay less attention to what they eat than ever before. Many of the most serious health and social problems facing our nation today have their origins and potential solutions in health behaviors developed in childhood. At least 8 out of 10 of the leading causes of death heart disease, cancer, strokes, injuries, chronic lung disease, diabetes, liver disease, and atherosclerosis-are strongly related to such behaviors and conditions as diet and obesity, exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol. What must be addressed is that these health behaviors begin in childhood. By the age of 12, more than 40% of American children have at least one modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease (Richter et al., 2000).

Physicians and other public health and medical professionals now know enough about how to keep children well so that debilitating illness and disease should be much less frequent than they are in the United States. Yet, in this country, children’s health suffers from birth. The overall U.S. infant mortality rate ranks 22nd worldwide; 9 out of every 1,000 children in the United States die before age 1, which is twice the infant mortality rate of Japan. Between 30% and 55% of 2-year-old American children are not adequately immunized, and the percentages of underimmunized children are much higher in major U.S. cities. Today, a 2-year-old in . . .

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