Childhood obesity may have become the chosen platform for First Lady Obama for good reason. Today, the number of children suffering from childhood obesity is at all time highs, with as much as 25% of all children being obese between the ages of 6 and 19. This doesn’t include the staggering 37% of children that are considered overweight, but not obese. And this condition of society, places millions of children at risk for diseases that used to be prevalent only in older adults.
As a society, most people blame childhood obesity on the transitioning sedentary lifestyle. Many people, including the First Lady, take the approach to “just get out and play,” as a means to control this burdening trend. Sadly, the truth about who is to blame for childhood obesity has been misplaced on fast food restaurants, food distributors and makers, internet marketing, video game developers and the inability of people to understand the often ‘confusing’ labels on food. Yet, let us be honest! The ideals of a healthy diet and lifestyle have not changed over the past 50 years. If anything, our access to information about how to keep our children healthy has only increased. Even schools are on board and only allowed to provide specific foods that meet NDA guidelines to students. Labels are clearer than ever, and if you have never heard of a nitrate or Trans fat….it is easy to decide that unnatural, salt, fatty foods that offer no nutrition to your child should not be the bulk of their diet. Yet, in most households, it is.
However, the bottom line is that parents have the utmost responsibility to feed their children properly. And to ensure that children have healthy foods available to them, as well as ample limits on the amount of time they can spend sitting in front of the television, computer screen or playing video games. Studies show that parents who are overweight themselves, automatically pass on a 71% chance that their children as well, will suffer from obesity. It runs in families, not because of genetics, but because of habits.
It isn’t hard to decide if your child is overweight. In fact, well visits to the pediatrician scheduled at routine intervals, always include height and weight charts. Plus, you can take a look at a child and determine reasonably whether they need to lose a few pounds or not. As a parent, it is also imperative that when you notice your child gaining unnecessary weight, you take action quickly. The problem for many moms and dads is that they don’t want to hurt their child’s feelings, and adopt the belief that the ‘baby fat’ will dissipate as the child grows. Or they choose to ignore what is going on, out of guilty or fear. But if the habits of eating and exercising in the household do not change, the child will only continue to grow larger and larger. Then, you can be confident that your child is at risk for diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and respiratory illness simply because you have failed to fulfill one of your greatest parent duties.
Parents need to remain aware that helping a child maintain their weight is vital in their role as parenting. You have to be the pivotal person who makes change possible for your child, at all costs. You can choose to avoid being hurtful, by simply making dietary changes family wide. Sure, it will be difficult at first to get rid of comfort foods and to start learning how to eat healthily. However, the real cost to not doing so is not only detrimental to your child’s health and wellbeing – but to their life!
No child at the age of 6, should be in charge of choosing what they want to eat everyday. If this child becomes obese, and develops severe health problems – there is no one to blame but the caretakers. It is both interesting and sad, that the people who should be most concerned with their child’s health and wellbeing as it pertains to weight, are most often the ones that deny them of having a chance at a healthy weight.
Many parents agree that it is hard to deny their child of food. They feel guilty, or feel like it will hurt their child if they manage their portions and choices. And many parents, whether over weight or not, do not have healthy eating patterns of their own, which makes it even more difficult to control their child’s eating habits. Yet, as a parent, you just have to. Helping them learn how to eat healthily, saying no, and resisting allowing a child to constantly over indulge in both behaviors and foods that aren’t healthy is your number one responsibility. If you don’t, if your child is obese – there is no one to blame but YOU!
Today, children are living very sedentary lives in comparison to that of older generations. Parents need to take control at a very young age and set an example. If mom and dad are overweight, then they especially should be able to understand the struggles that it causes in life. This is even more reason to not allow it to happen to your child.
To be proactive, you could join a gym together. You could decide to take an evening walk every night after dinner as a family. Play games. Spend a Saturday afternoon hiking at a local park. In other words, using the excuse that exercise costs money, and that unhealthy foods are cheaper, is simply a copout.
If you don’t remember the food pyramid, take another look. Weigh your child, and then take a radical look at the foods you keep in your pantry and fridge and take a realistic look at how much exercise they get on a daily basis. Talk to your pediatrician, enroll in a nutrition class, and learn how to shop in a healthy manner. It is YOUR job to do so. Saying no to your child now, can ensure that they live a long, healthy and prosperous life that doesn’t include becoming a statistic to childhood obesity.