With the end of summer and the return to school for our children looming a few weeks away, I thought it might be a prudent to address childhood obesity through several blogs. Childhood obesity has been on the rise, going from five percent in children under the age of ten to more than twenty-one percent. Teenage obesity rates are rising even faster than those of children. I don’t want our children to battle with weight problems and health problems as I have had to do. It is time to do something about it, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Let’s first address the causes behind childhood obesity. Some children are obese due to genetics. Genetics are hard to combat. That does not mean our children are condemned to be fat children growing into fatter adults. What it does mean is as parents, we have to work with our children’s doctors to determine an appropriate plan to help our children learn and desire a healthy lifestyle.
This means parents, who themselves may be obese, and obese since childhood, may have to learn proper eating habits, portion control, and lose weight so they may lead by example. There needs to be an emphasis on the importance of creating an atmosphere in the family home and dynamics of living a healthy life. We must teach our children the value of living a healthy lifestyle. If we do not put value into living a healthy lifestyle, our children will not value a healthy lifestyle either.
This includes movement and the burning of calories. The phrase “couch potato” was coined because adults plant their fannies on the couch in front of the television set instead of getting up and moving. Again, as adults, we have a responsibility to set an example that living well means movement. I hate the word exercise because everyone says they hate to exercise. How about substituting the word “play” for the word “exercise”.
We need to get up and “play”. If you love to jog, teach your children to jog. Swim, ride bikes, play sports, shoot hoops, hike, dance, whatever you enjoy doing, do it, and do it with your kids. Teach them to love movement by making it fun.
Obesity in our children does not stem only from genetics. We are a fast everything nation. We want everything faster, quicker, more instant, including our food. Fast foods and processed foods are loaded with fat, salt, and sugar and leave us wanting more. Our lives and our children’s lives are moving in a million directions. Our kids are busy with school and after school activities. Finding time to cook a home-cooked meal using fresh healthy ingredients has become a moment built into a special occasion instead of a daily norm.
Even meals prepared at home, today, include frozen and processed foods. Rarely do you hear anyone say they cook from scratch. Open a box or a can or heat up a frozen dinner is more the norm. It is quick and easy, and you can’t blame anyone for wanting to fix meals in a quick easy manner. The mornings, we are busy getting everyone up and ready to go so we can rush to our jobs. The evenings are jam packed with picking up children, getting homework done, attending events for the kids and the family, that by the time you get home, you have either stopped on the way and picked up something from a fast food restaurant or you rip open a box. I get it. We are busy.
All our busyness and involvement are important to our well-being in certain ways, but it is causing a toll on our children who develop weight management issues. The bottom line is that while we are too busy to teach our children how to eat right, one third of our nation’s children are obese. Ten years ago, it was less than five percent.
Our children need to be taught many things in life to get through life. More importantly, our children need to be taught how to live a healthy life style to survive life. If we don’t get our acts together and make this an integral part of their education, our kids won’t have to worry about living a long life. That is the sad truth.
There is so much more to be said on this issue. In the next few blogs to come, I will address the emotionally food addicted child, and how to make healthy eating fun and easier to incorporate into the lives of our children. I will also address the food-addicted parent passing on food addiction to their children. I will address health issues concerning the obese child.
Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic. We need to take this subject seriously as parents, grandparents, and as a nation. Our communities need to come together to develop programs within our schools (many schools have excellent programs in place) and within our communities if we are to save our children from a life-long struggle with obesity and the health related issues that develop from obesity.
Until we meet again, this is Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty.
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