Parents love their children, right? Well, childhood obesity statistics say otherwise. Almost 60% of children in America are obese children. Interesting enough, the rate of overweight children is increasing! A study in 2002 stated that 22% of U.S preschoolers were overweight. That means that children are already a health risk by the age 0f four or five. Am I the only one that believes a child should be able to run outside all day long without losing interest and stamina?
Before I go on about the big problem with childhood obesity in America, I must comment that I realize that family genetics and physical ailments can cause weight problems. I am not here with the intent to offend any parents that have overweight children. If you have tried different diets and exercise programs with your child, you should not feel guilty. However, if you have accepted the fact that your child is overweight and are not proactive about it, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Letting your child become overweight is like letting your child die. The truth is that obese children often turn into obese adults. Obesity can cause many types of physical problems such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and death. If you love your child, never give up on your child. Let them live a high quality of life. Parents, don’t let your child end their life prematurely.
Causes of Obesity in Children
Obesity is nothing new to society. Some families are plagued with weight problems due to family genetics and delicious food. However, over the years, obesity has steadily become a big problem with many children, even if they have a healthy family history. Here is my list on why the rate of obesity is increasing in America.
Why obesity is increasing in America?
- Fast food restaurants- such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Magic Wok. Fast food restaurants have not done anything wrong here. However, many Americans do not have the time or are not willing to cook at home. Far too often, Americans decide to pickup fast food to keep up with their fast paced lifestyle. While it may save time for mom and dad, it is one of the worst foods to consume. Eating fast food once a week is OK as a treat as long as the child has a well balanced diet. However, eating fast food once a day or more is like eating poison. As parents, if you are a having a hard time finding the time to cook good meals, follow some of my tips. I work 65-75 hours a week. On Sunday nights, I grill some turkey burgers, chicken and save them for dinners for the week. I use quick and easy recipes for my slow cooker. I put the slow cooker on in the morning and when I get home I have a healthy meal that is ready to be devoured. Best part is that the meals taste good and are healthy. Trust me, I love good food, but there are ways to eat tasty and healthy food and meet time restraints.
- Video games: I am such a hypocrite for saying this as I am a 28 year old adult that loves to play video games. I have a Xbox and PlayStation 3 to prove it. However, many children come home from school and play hours of video games. I know many kids that sit in school for 7 to 8 hours and come home and play video games for 6 to 7 hours. I do not need a calculator or a statistician to tell me that some children spend their entire day sitting or sleeping. Children that have this type of lifestyle will be prime candidates for obesity and other health problems. As a child, I could easily spend most of my days playing video games, however on the days I wanted to stay inside and play video games, my mom would be there nagging me to go outside and play. I remember one time, she unplugged my Sega Genesis. The few times I did have this conflict with my mother, I always remember having much more fun playing outside. My point is that parents need to force their child to do something active. It also keeps their brain healthy! Lastly, technology has given us video game systems that allow children to be active. The Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move are great new systems that force the player to stand up and get off the couch. I recently purchased the Xbox Kinect and I have thoroughly enjoyed all the games. I know I get a good workout when my fiance tells me to take a shower because my sweat smells bad. There is one game for the Nintendo Wii that will actually tell your age based on your performance and body weight. I am not the most fit person and the Wii told me I was 40 years old. I am a 28 year old with the fitness of a 40 year old.
- Poor diets: Similar to #1 and fast food, some parents are adding unnecessary pounds to their child by feeding them foods that are high in fat, chemicals and carbohydrates. In fact, poor diets in children cause behavior, intelligence and dental problems. Monitor how much soda, candy, chips and other junk food that your child eats. Also, find out what type of food your child’s school offers. Most school cafeterias offer pop, french fries and chips and some do not even offer vegetables or some type of fruit. Make sure your child has fruit, turkey or chicken sandwich, healthy bag of chips and a healthy drink in their lunchbox everyday. Lastly, avoid making meals that have preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals. The rule of thumb is that the shorter the list of ingredients, the healthier the meal is. Unnatural chemicals are perceived as toxins to our body. Our body will not digest those chemicals very well and it can often be turned into fat cells.
- Lack of exercise: I will keep this short as this should be an obvious cause of obesity in America. Due to technological advances, sometimes sitting on the couch watching T.V or surfing the web are fun activities for children. However, this is a poor habit for children. Encourage your child to get involved in sports. Get them involved in boy or girl scouts, chess or some type of club. Letting children use T.V as a common form of entertainment is hurting them physically and socially. Some parents have to force their child to play sports, but they often thank their parents after. Never let your child give up! If you teach your child good discipline and habits from an early age, it will be easier for you to help your child succeed for the future. If your child still resists, become creative and do the activity with them. Often children will do something just because they saw their parents doing the same thing.
Attitude is Everything
The most important thing to remember is if your child is overweight, make sure you have an encouraging attitude. One of the side affects of child hood obesity is low self-esteem. Classmates never let overweight children forget that they are overweight. Every day, their peers can say and do some of the most awful things. My peers teased me often because I was skinny and I could not imagine the ridicule for being overweight. Always make sure your child understands that you love them! Tell them the truth that you are concerned with their health. Point out that classmates or peers will always be cruel, however as we mature, we learn to love others for who they are. God rest their souls, use examples of famous overweight celebrities that died at an early age. This will show your child that society accepts overweight people and in the end, their health is the only concern. Interestingly, if your overweight child becomes depressed, they will often turn to food to reconcile their problems.
Children can not be solely responsible for obesity. They do not know what is best for them. If you develop good habits with them right from the start, you will minimize the health risks involved. As parents, you need to become active in developing a well balanced diet and an exercise plan. Find out what your child is eating away from home. Encourage your child to care about their health. Their bodies will thank them later.
Children want the same thing that parents do. They want to live happy and meaningful lives. Sometimes it takes a lot of determination to reach our desired happiness. As parents we have to help our child find their true happiness!
- Love Your Child Endlessly
- Author: Timothy Peters
Committed to supporting children’s hospitals, mentoring and educational programs, and funding various outreach initiatives that meet the needs of children in our communities.