My wife and I were walking through Walmart last night and saw the largest teen we’ve seen in our area. The boy had breasts that were larger than my wife’s, which is no easy feat. Although the statistics for childhood obesity are showing signs of improvement, there is still a problem here in the United States. In one study, the numbers of overweight children had plateaued since 2012. This isn’t necessarily a good sign. This still means that nearly one in every three children is considered overweight.
Why Is Childhood Obesity So Bad?
According to the CDC, 70% of children ages 5-17 had at least one risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. This means that children could suffer from things like a heart attack and other complications before they can even graduate high school. It’s never a good sign if your child requires a bypass surgery caused by being overweight.
Suffering from cardiovascular diseases can greatly alter the progress of children. Their options begin to limit for what they can accomplish in life. A child shouldn’t have to be limited to explore everything the world has to offer before he or she even has a chance. Essentially, parents who allow their children to grow to such a large size are hindering the kid’s development on a physical and mental level.
Affecting the Development of the Brain
The human brain will continue to develop well into your 20s. The more unhealthy a child is, the less likely he or she will reach their true potential. The brain is affected by many factors when growing. A poor diet and a lack of exercise restricts many of the necessary components for the development of the mind. In some studies, this factor has been demonstrated to even affect the IQ of an individual. By letting your child stay lethargic while eating unhealthy foods, you are essentially affecting how he or she can think and reason. It may also contribute to emotional status.
The bones of the human body are not designed to carry excessive amounts of weight. We were never meant to weigh 400-plus pounds. This can lead to common stress fractures and damaged joints. In some cases, this damage can become permanent. While reducing the weight will alleviate much of the pain, the excess weight will still have caused damage. Any dreams of doing certain activities, such as being a sports star, will be much more difficult to achieve. Even large kids who may believe they have a career in the NFL as a linebacker can be subjected to a short career as bone damage continues. This says nothing about the complications from cardiovascular disease in similar instances.
What Contributes to Childhood Obesity?
Their are too many factors that lead to childhood obesity. However, the numbers of growth do coincide with many things that have developed since 1980. Here are some of the most common factors I’ve found while perusing the Internet. Some of these I have witnessed first hand.
Game systems, smartphones, tablets and computers have given children a reason not to get up and get moving. Instead of going outside and playing with the neighbors, kids are too content with sitting on the couch with a controller in hand. Now, I am not one to bad-mouth gaming…it’s one of my favorite pastimes. It’s when the games contribute to the overall lack of exercise is when it becomes a problem. I know I gained a bunch of weight since I moved from a full-time tech job to freelance writing. Now, I spend about 16 hours a day in front of a computer for both work and play. Boom! 280 pounds.
Poor Eating Habits
We live in a world of instant gratification. In my town, there are more food-based businesses than anything else. One of the biggest problem people have in the United States is believing that a plate full of food from Village Inn is one serving. In reality, it could almost account for three. We are fooled by the guise of “cheap” meals that we buy dollar menu items and get sucked in with $1-any-size pop. Instead of fruits and vegetables, children are more fixated on fries and shakes.
I am convinced that parents play the most prominent role in childhood obesity. Instead of being in control of the household, as was the case when I was growing up, parents are too afraid of being turned in to Social Services. They wind up letting the child run the house in certain regards. For example, I couldn’t leave the table if I still had food on my plate – usually it was the vegetables I had a problem with. You don’t see that same conviction in a lot of households today. Letting your child spend hours on end in front of the TV is also conducive to weight gain. If the child can’t exert enough movement to burn the calories he or she eats, then they will gain weight.
What Can Be Done to Drop Childhood Obesity Statistics?
Childhood obesity can be combated quite easily. All it takes is conviction by the parents to be parents. Sure there will probably be some kind of mutiny in the household. But it needs to be done if you want to help your child become more than just a “fat” statistic. Almost one in every five children are considered obese by today’s standards. Here are a few things you can alter in order to reduce the size of your child.
Learn to Cook Healthier Meals
Avoid restaurants as much as possible. Cooking healthier meals can help you provide exact portion sizes of food while making sure your kiddos get the nutrients they need for proper development. There are plenty of cookbooks out there that can help you make tasty and affordable foods without delving into the Mac-and-Cheese mantra that so many of us take advantage of. Besides, cooking can be cheaper than restaurants when you consider the quality of food and the gas it takes to sit in the drive-through.
Buy Healthier Snacks
Instead of filling the cupboards with cupcakes and cookies, pick up something that is healthier to snack on. You can never go wrong with fruits and veggies. My children love diced watermelon and pineapple. Coincidentally, watermelon can be easily grown in your yard. In fact, studies show that children are more likely to eat foods that they grow themselves regardless if it’s a fruit or a vegetable. You can save money, give the children an activity and help them eat healthier all from a few seeds.
Change Your Habits
Parents are the most influential aspect of a child’s life. If they see you being lazy, they will be lazy themselves. If you want to affect the habits of your children, you’ll need to start with your own. Besides, it will help you live long enough to see your kids become more than just an obesity statistic by the CDC. It’s all about demonstrating to the little ones that proper health will enhance their future lifestyle.
Get involved in your child’s life. Keep an eye on their behaviors and mannerisms. You are the parent, and you’ll need to act like it if you want your kids to succeed in life. Otherwise, they could be in for a very hard time as they grow up. I have no doubt that you’ll bump heads a bit, but it’s better than having to rush to the ER because your 15-year old is having a heart attack.
Children should be able to experience a variety of things and be playful in the physical world. Digital entertainment can be fun, but it shouldn’t be the most important aspect of a kid’s life. A child shouldn’t have a bra-size bigger than my wife’s. Do your part to make sure children have the best chances at a future. Cardiovascular complications and bone diseases shouldn’t be part of the equation for a kid who hasn’t even graduated yet.