Award Winning Speech Childhood Obesity

I am posting the winner of the 2008 Western New Englad College Speech Contest.


The following award winning speech is on childhood obesity. While it serves as an outline, the informaiton is a perfect fit to update this blog.




The Causes of Childhood Obesity

by Karen Bycenski April, 2008


General Purpose: To inform.


Specific Purpose Statement: To inform my audience about the main causes of childhood obesity.


Central idea: While there are many causes of childhood obesity, the two main culprits are eating too much and exercising too little.


Method of Organization: Topical



I. (Attention-getter) Take a look around you next time you go to the mall.

            A. Take a look around you next time you go to the stores.

            B. Take a look around you next time you go anywhere.

            C. What you will see is what has seemingly become the new trend among children.

            D. What you will see has become a big problem-literally, and it is growing each year.


II. (Reveal topic) The topic I am speaking about is childhood obesity.

            A. According to the article “America, 100 Percent Fat” by Martica Heaner, the current generation of children is the first ever predicted to die younger than their parents.

            B. Children’s waistlines are growing at breakneck speed.

1.      The Mayo Clinic reports that “in just two decades, the prevalence of overweight doubled for U.S. children ages 6 to 11- and tripled for American teenagers.”

2.      Sources vary on the actual percent, but the general consensus is that about 15% of American children are obese.


III. (Establish credibility) After thoroughly researching this topic and witnessing it firsthand, the causes of childhood obesity have become very clear.


IV. (Preview main points) Today, I will discuss the two main causes of childhood obesity: eating too much and exercising too little.


Signpost: We’ll start off by looking at how eating too much contributes to childhood obesity.




I. Eating too much has commonly been recognized as a major culprit in regards to childhood obesity.

            A. The Center for Disease Control states that energy imbalance is a key factor.

1. Energy imbalance is defined as “when the number of calories consumed is not equal to the number of calories used.

2. Many children are eating excessively and not burning off those extra calories.

B. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is most common in industrialized countries where more fast food and convenience food is consumed.

                        1. According to, about 49% of parents say that because there isn’t enough time for a home-cooked meal, they turn to restaurants, which are typically high in calories and have less fruits and vegetables.

                        2. Fast foods are loaded with refined sugar, fat, and sodium.

                        3. According to CBS News, a recent study uncovered that every day approximately 1/3 of children in the United States aged 4-19 eat fast food.

3.      It is estimated that that packs on about 6lbs per child each year.

4.      The study also found that children who eat fast food consumed about 187 more calories every day, due to the fact that they ate more fats, sugars, and carbohydrates and less fruits and vegetables than children who did not eat fast food.

            C. Parents play a vital role in what and how much their kids eat.

                        1. Kids learn eating habits from their parents.

                        2. Parents encourage their kids to clean their plates- we’ve all seen the kid in the restaurant with his parents urging him to finish his meal.

            D. Today, we are seeing increased portion sizes.

1.      Registered dietician and director of nutrition services with Lisa Drayer says that restaurant portions are distorting Americans’ views of portion sizes, and consequently, Americans have acquired a “more is better” mentality.

2.      According to, the portion sizes have increased tremendously.

3.      In the 1950s, for example, the portion for a fountain soda was 7.0 oz, compared to 12-64 oz in 2003.

4.      Jennifer Fisher, an assistant professor at Baylor College, conducted a six-month study, in which two series of meals were served to thirty preschool children- the first series offered the children an appropriate portion of macaroni and cheese, while the second series offered the children double the portion.

a.       The researchers found that the children ate 25% more when they were served the larger portion.

b.      Fisher and the other researchers realized that, when given larger portion, kids will eat more.

E. A recent study conducted by the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan found that children between the ages of 2 and 6 ate 30% more when snacking in large groups.

1.      The researchers served snacked in 2 different settings- one when the kids were in a group of nine, and one when the kids were in a group of 3.

2.      The study found that children ate more quickly and spent less time socializing when they were in the larger group.


Transition: But it’s not just what we eat or how much we eat; as any dietician will tell you, weight gain or weight loss is all about a balance of diet and exercise.


II. Exercising too little has also been recognized as a major culprit in regards to childhood obesity.

A. Exercising too little has become a plague in the United States, and sedentary lifestyles have led to “extra padding” on many people’s bodies.

            B. According to the CDC, physical activity plays a vital role in energy balance.

1. Children consume more calories than they expend- when this happens, weight gain occurs.

                        2. Take a look around you when you’re driving down the street.

                        3. How many kids do you see out playing?

4. Not many- I rarely see kids playing outside; when I was younger, as soon as I got home from school I’d be outside playing with the kids in my neighborhood.

5. Rather than playing outdoors or engaging in other forms of physical activity, many children spend more time watching TV and playing videogames.

a.       According to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, the average American child spends at least four hours a day engaged in sedentary activities such as watching television, playing videogames, and playing on the computer.

b.      The Screen Digest points out that according to the British Dietetic Association, kids spend roughly two and a half months each year staring at a TV or computer screen and that this trend is common in industrialized nations.

c.       The more time spent on these sedentary activities means less time spent on physical activities, and, when engaged in these types of activities, children are not burning the calories they are consuming.

C. When children are engaged in such activities like TV viewing, they tend to graze nonstop- their mouth is moving more than any other part of their body.

1. According to Penn State Researcher Lori Francis, watching TV while eating interferers with natural cues children’s bodies are sending them about being full.



I. (Signal end of speech / review central idea) In conclusion, there are many causes of childhood obesity.

            A. The main causes of childhood obesity are simply eating too much and exercising too little.

            B. All you have to do is take a look around you and you can see for yourself.

II. (End on a positive note) Now, hopefully, you better understand the dynamics of childhood obesity.



Associated Press “Poll: Lack of exercise blamed for kid obesity.” MSNBC. Posted 25 Oct. 2005. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2008 <;.

Carmona, Richard H. “The Obesity Crisis in America.” Testimony before the Subcommittee on Education and the Workforce. United States House of Representatives. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Washington, D.C. Posted 16 July 2003. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2008 <;.

“Childhood Obesity.” Mayo Clinic Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Posted 31 Mar. 2006. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2008 <>.

“Contributing Factors: Overweight and obesity: an overview.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Posted 22 May 2007. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2007 <;.

Cox, Amy. “Study: Americans super-sizing at home, too.” CNN. Posted 23 Jan. 2003. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2008 <;.

Duchene, Lisa. “Probing Questions: Does eating while watching tv harm kids?” Research Penn State Posted 7 Aug. 2006. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2008 <;.

“Fast Food Linked To Child Obesity.” CBS News. Posted 5 Jan. 2003. Retrieved 20 Feb. 2008 <htpp://>.

Flores, Alfredo. “Larger Portions May Lead Children to Overeat.” United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service. Posted 16 Jul. 2003. Retrieved 20 Feb. 2008 <;.

“Getting fat in screen-time.” Screen Digest 421 (Oct 2006): 352. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2008. <http://find/;.

Heaner, Martica. “America, 100 Percent Fat.” MSN Health and Fitness.  Retrieved 1 Oct. 2007. <;.

“Portion Distortion: Serving Sizes are growing.” Meals Matter. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2008 <;.

Warner, Jennifer. “Kids Eat More When in Larger Groups.” WebMD. Posted 13 Feb. 2007. Retrieved 20 Feb. 2008 <;.

Williams, Shawna. “Kids eat hefty number of calories while watching tv.” Stanford News Service. Posted 7 July 2004. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2008 <;.



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