Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at February 19, 2013

Who is Responsible For Overweight Children

Children and Obesity:
Obese childrenChildhood obesity is a major issue that our society has to battle with today. Obesity is the result of calorie imbalance, when too few calories are being used versus the amount being consumed, and is influenced by genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. The New York Department of Health found that 43% of public elementary school students are overweight and 76% aren’t getting five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

Obesity rates have nearly tripled in the past thirty years in all age groups. (Childhood Obesity Statistics, 2011). The argument is, “Who is to blame for this getting out of control?” I believe parents have full responsibility for the health of their children.

Hereditary Obesity
Overweight BabyNot only can children eat their way to obesity, but it is also hereditary and children can be burdened with it as early as birth. I think this is something that a lot of parents over look, but it’s a very serious issue. Kids can be born overweight, but they can also be born with diabetes and with a potential of contracting other serious diseases such as cardiovascular disorder. Over 71% of parents don’t even know that their children are overweight because they mistakenly think their child is healthy or only slightly overweight. Currently, 33% of preschoolers are obese and 12-15% of parents are obese. (Childhood Obesity Statistics, 2011).

Child obesity is becoming a more severe problem because what we used to believe ten years ago about children growing out of baby fat is becoming less and less true. It has been found that if children are obese by the age of two it could affect them later down the road.

Parents need to pay attention to children’s weight at an early age, especially if the parents’ themselves are heavy set. It is so extremely important that parents take care of themselves also. They can doom their child from the get-go with health problems if they don’t eat right and exercise to keep themselves in a healthy state.

Fast Food
Kid eating fast foodObviously, children depend on their parents while they’re young; needing food, clothes, love, shelter, etc. The health of children starts in their home. Kids tend to eat whatever their parents do. YES, habits are passed on and if you exhibit terrible eating behaviors then your kids are most likely to follow in those footsteps. If parents drink pop, then so will the kids. If parents order McDonald’s four times a week, then that is what your child is consuming.

Too many parents today are giving in to the pressures of fast food because it’s cheap, has good taste, is easy to get a hold of, and is quick. However, this is not the answer and can have devastating lifelong effects. Everyday dinner decision could mean the ultimate difference in the life path of a child. Adults need to realize that eating dinner at home is not only physically beneficial for kids, but also emotionally.

Spending time at the dinner table together allows families to communicate and bond. This is a great way to spend family time and to address a health issue. The change doesn’t need to be directed at the child, but can be a family decision to get healthy together. If parents demonstrate healthy eating habits then the kids will most likely pick up on them.

Make it Fun!
Children Playing OutsideA big complaint from parents is that kids don’t like vegetables or that they like to go to McDonald’s so often because they get the free toy. Truth is, parents can make eating fun too! If you make food into some kind of animal or somehow turn eating into a game, kids will be way more likely to participate and not even know that it’s healthy for them.

As a child my parents did this and I didn’t even realize they were trying to get me to eat new foods until I was much older. My brothers and I were very reluctant to try certain vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower, and steamed broccoli based off of their looks. One day my parents decided to try something to get us out of our closed mindset. They brought out a bunch of different dishes with lids on them and then blindfolded us. We had to try three foods without looking at them first and decide if we liked them or not. Then afterwards my parents showed us what we had eaten, so that we would understand that vegetables can be appetizing too! They were able to communicate with us on our level of understanding as to why we needed to eat more vegetables. Also, if you catch picky eaters when they’re hungry they’ll be more likely to try whatever you serve.

Try to incorporate healthy foods into meals they enjoy the most and will be more eager to try new things. If Moms and Dads would just put in the effort then maybe we would have much lower obesity statistics.

Technology Issues
A major problem that we’re dealing with today is the amount of technology that is available. Kids have GameBoy, television, lap tops, Xbox, Playstation, Wii, and computer games to keep them occupied inside. Do you think kids have the money to buy all of these expensive toys? No, parents make these things available to children by buying them new things every time they ask for them. I believe that technology is a huge part of the reason that the whole population overall is obese. Kids will go to school, come home and play video games for two-three hours, and then watch TV for nearly the same amount of time before they go to bed.

Parents are not only able to control how many of these electronics that kids own, but also and more importantly, the amount of time that they spend on these each day. If parents would set boundaries with their kids starting when they are very young then the chances are that they will be able to have a higher resistance to these things when they are older. Again, monkey see monkey do. Parents need to pay attention to how much time they’re spending on the internet and on technological toys. It’s perfectly acceptable to let children play video games and watch television, but the time should be limited and used more as a reward system when they have good behavior.

Kids doing Jumping JacksGoing hand-in-hand with the amount of time children spend in front of the television or playing video games, goes the amount of time children spend exercising. Play time is a very important part of a child’s life and if they aren’t getting the active time that they need it can be very harmful physically, mentally, and socially. Some schools today don’t even have PE classes, so when kids aren’t getting any exercise at school and none at home, where are they getting it?

Parents need to set aside time, especially on the weekends, for outdoor activities where kids are able to run around. They should be getting about an hour of free play time every day to exercise physically and creatively. Teaching children to be active at a very young age gives them a much higher chance of lifetime fitness activity.

The goal is not to become a body builder or to lose one hundred pounds (although these are great ambitions), but to be and STAY healthy. The more active a child is, the happier they usually are because they feel better and are involved with group activity with friends in most cases. Physical activity goes a long way and this value can be instilled by parents at a very young age.

When it comes down to it, kids across the country are lacking in every area from eating the right foods to daily exercise. Parents have the ability to control all of these things and they need to start putting their foot down if we want to make America a healthier place and if they want a healthier child who will live a long life.

If parents start creating good habits when kids are young they will be more likely to carry through with them as adults. Moms and Dads should take the weight of their children more seriously and work to improve the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets, the amount of exercise they are getting every week, and limit their time spent watching television and playing video games.

Sources: Childhood Obesity Statistics. Net (2011). Childhood Obesity Statistics And Facts. Child Obesity Advice.





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