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Nature vs Nurture Essay

Nature vs nurture essay

The following is an example of a nature vs nurture essay where the main subject that has been analyzed is childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity: Nature or Nurture?

            In the domain of nature and nurture, the former refers to the genetic or the biological effects on the traits that human beings acquire while the latter describes the influence of factors in one’s environment and learning. Childhood obesity is one of the topics that can be discussed in these two main contexts. Childhood obesity is a condition where a child’s health and wellbeing are negatively affected by excess body fat. Children that are obese usually have excess weight given their age and height. This paper seeks to determine which side makes the strongest contribution to this condition. The two components are extensively discussed before giving an evaluation on which side contributes strongly to childhood obesity.

 Description and research on “nature” components

            In as far as childhood obesity is concerned, natural factors refers to the factors that are inherited from the family members such as the parents. Some of the common factors that contribute to childhood obesity fall under this context of nature. If a child comes from a family of overweight people, he is likely to develop the same condition. Research has shown that these children are five times likely to become obese. Therefore, genetic components are one of the common factors that lead to childhood obesity. However, genetic susceptibility only affects weight when combined with other environmental and behavioral factors (Mayo clinic, 2015).

            Not all children that come from overweight families usually develop obesity. Mostly, the likelihood to develop this condition can be linked behaviors that are shared in the family such as eating disorders. For this reason, genetics usually contributes to less than 5% of cases of obesity among children. However, when genetics come into play, polymorphisms that are found in various genes and which are responsible for controlling metabolism and appetite usually predispose the children to obesity when certain calories are introduced into the body (Sahoo et al., 2015). Over 200 genes in the human body usually affect the weight that individuals acquire by determining the food preferences, metabolism, and body type. Therefore, having specific genes can increase the likelihood of a child developing obesity.

            Therefore, based on the argument given in the previous section, obesity can be perceived as one of the genetic disorders that may present itself during childhood. The genes that are responsible for this condition are usually passed from the parents or acquired through mutation. For instance, 7% of children that develop severe obesity at an early age usually harbor a single locus mutation (Bosmans, 2016). In the past, adoption studies have been used to show the relation that exists between genes and obesity while excluding the environmental factors that may come in to play. For instance, a study conducted on adopted children showed a great correlation between the adopted children and their birth parents than with their adoptive parents. Therefore, there is no doubt that there exists an association between genes and obesity in children.

            Therefore, from the information that has been reviewed, it can be proved that there exists a relationship between genetics and childhood obesity. Genes inherited from the parents may have a great effect in contributing to eating habits and metabolism in the body which results in obesity. In addition, mutations in genes also contribute to a small proportion of the obesity cases that may arise in children. However, there is a need for more research to be conducted so as to explain the relationship that exists between obesity and heritability. The information presented in this section has also revealed that although genetics also makes a contribution to obesity, the environmental factors are also involved since they are responsible for the expression of the genes. Having discussed the role played by nature in childhood obesity, the next section will examine the other context which is the role of environmental factors.

 Description and research on “nurture” components

            Based on the previous section, it is clear that although genetics or the factors associated with nature are some of the common causes of childhood obesity, these factors are not responsible for the increased rate of childhood obesity. There exist other factors that are acquired by the children as a result of what surrounds them. One of the arguments raised by specialists is that obesity results from the imbalance between the energy that is taken into the body and the amount of this energy that is used. Therefore, this suggests that the food that is ingested into the body is a major factor that may contribute to childhood obesity. Some of the environmental factors that may contribute to childhood obesity will be discussed in this section.

            One of the factors that may contribute to childhood obesity is the amount and the quality of food that is taken by a child. If children are served with large portions of food especially one that is fatty, they are most likely to develop obesity. This is because their body may not have the ability to burn these fats which may be stored in the body leading to obesity. Issues to do with diet are very critical in as far as children are concerned. A randomized study was carried out for three years where 1704 children that were in third grade were provided with two healthy meals in a day, an exercise program, and dietary counseling (Sahoo et al., 2015). However, the children did not exhibit any significant reduction in the amount of body fats. The results were attributed to the fact that although changes were made in school, no interventions were made at home. This study showed that obesity can only be reduced when extensive measures are taken. This also showed that there exists a strong correlation in the quality of food taken and obesity especially in children.

            The type of food that is consumed by children may also have a huge impact in contributing to obesity. If children develop a tendency of taking fast foods and sugary drinks at an early age, they have a high likelihood of developing obesity. These foods contain a great amount of fats that are stored in the body. Most sugary foods and drinks have calories that are also stored in the body of a child inform of fat. On the other hand, the children may develop an addiction to such foods at an early age which may eventually result in uncontrolled eating habits. Most of these foods are readily available in various places that are frequented by children. On the other hand, the companies responsible for the production of these foods spend a lot on the advertisement. For instance, McDonald’s has more than thirteen websites that are viewed by thousands of children and teenagers in every month. Therefore, children are more likely to develop eating disorders that may eventually lead to obesity.

            The other factor that may contribute to obesity in children is the failure to engage in physical activity. A Research was conducted where the physical activity of 133 children was measured using an accelerometer. Based on this study, it was discovered that the obese children were 35% less active during school days compared to the children that were non-obese. The variation increased to 65% during non-school days such as the weekends (Satija & Hu, 2017). Staying inactive usually leaves unused energy in the body which is usually stored in the body as fat. Therefore, children that fail to engage in physical activities such as play usually have a high likelihood of developing obesity. However, there are several factors that may come into play. These factors include age, psychological factors, and the availability of play areas.

            Although factors such as gender affect the ability of the children to engage in physical activities, study has proven that a great role is played by technology. Study has found out that there exists a great correlation between obesity and TV watching. Most children usually spend their time watching TV and playing video games. Besides their bodies remaining inactive, they are exposed to advertisements that promote fatty and unhealthy foods. Therefore, there exists a high likelihood that such children may develop poor eating habits which are combined with body inactivity (Mayo Clinic, 2018). When this happens, the chances of such children to develop obesity are high. Although the electronic media greatly contribute to inactivity, the parents may also play a part. For instance, most parents do not take an initiative in ensuring that their children remain physically active by assigning them simple tasks, encouraging them to engage in play, and ensuring that children engage in simple tasks such as walking to school. Therefore, it is clear that physical inactivity is one of the major factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Having discussed the various environmental factors that usually contribute to childhood obesity, the next part will determine the factors that strongly contribute to childhood obesity.

Evaluation: which side (nature, nurture) most strongly contributes?

            The previous two parts have discussed the role that is played by nature and nurture in contributing to childhood obesity. In the first section, the role of nature was discussed where the main factor that was determined was genetic inheritance. The main argument that was made is that some children may acquire genes from their parents that may control metabolism an appetite in a manner that may contribute to obesity. Children that come from a family of individuals that are overweight have a higher chance of developing obesity. In other cases, gene mutation may also take part where 7% of children that develop severe obesity at an early age usually harbor a single locus mutation. However, one thing that was clear is that although genetics also makes a contribution to obesity, the environmental factors are also involved since they are responsible for the expression of the genes.

            The second section examines the effect of nurture on childhood obesity where various environmental factors that may contribute to childhood obesity have been identified. This section reveals that there exists a strong correlation between food taken and childhood obesity. If children consistently take fatty food and one with high-calorie content, there is a high likelihood for them to develop obesity. This is due to the inability of the body to burn fats. On the other hand, there is proof that most children that develop obesity are physically inactive. This also contributes to obesity due to the inability of the body to burn excess fats.

            Therefore, it is clear that both nature and nurture are responsible for childhood obesity. The two factors play essential roles which is the reason why one argument that is derived from the discussion is that obesity is caused by the interaction of the two contexts. However, it is clear that the stronger contribution is made by nurture or the environmental factors that have been discussed. Nature or genetic inheritance only contributes to about 5% of the cases of obesity that occur. Also, it is clear that the environmental factors are also influential even in the case of genetic inheritance. Therefore, in order to deal with childhood obesity, parents and caregivers should deal with the factors that are associated to nurture which are the environmental causes discussed such as diet and physical inactivity. 

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Bosmans, C. (2016). Genetics of Childhood Obesity. Childhood Obesity, 137-150. doi:10.1201/9781315370958-14

Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 5). Childhood obesity – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from

Sahoo et al., K. (2015, April). Childhood obesity: causes and consequences. Retrieved from

Satija, A., & Hu, F. B. (2017). Prevention of Obesity and Physical Inactivity. Oxford Scholarship Online. doi:10.1093/oso/9780190238667.003.0065

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