Results of a recent National Health and Nutrition Survey on 12,384 youths, ages 2 to 19 years indicate that severe obesity among children increased almost 400% between the periods 1976=1980 and 1999-2004.
This equates to an estimate of approximately 2.7 million children in the U. S. who are severely obese.
Additionally, a third of severely obese children have metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors for diabetes, stroke and heart attack. The risk factors include high blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels.
So, what brought this about?
Was it the computer, television, easy access to fast food, and the typically high-fat diet full of empty carbohydrates favored by the American population?
Well, “yes”, but it’s hard to point a finger at any one culprit.
Also, there is the rise of the two-earner family where both mom and dad, if there is a dad, are out working.
Kids today, in general, do not “go out and play” as much as they used to.
They are also often fed convenience foods, treated to restaurant meals, or left to snack on high-calorie, low-food-value “foods”. All of these are high in calorie content, and, coupled with the decreasing amount of physical activity in the lifestyle of many foods, spell an obesity disaster for anyone of any age.
The sad part is that not only do these children have no awareness of what is happening to them in the moment, they, and usually their parents, are blissfully unaware of the affects of childhood obesity on adult life. Not only is an inactive child likely to become an inactive adult, but many potential illnesses and conditions, many life-threatening, can have their start in the formative years of a child.
Parents need to take action now. If they will not make lifestyle changes for themselves, they need to do it for the sake of their children.
You know, I used to think it was heart-warming to hear the stories of people who became fit and healthy because they cared for their dogs and walked them so that they would become healthier pets.
Sure wish we could do the same for our kids!
Why not take your kid AND your dog for a walk. All three of you will benefit, and not just by combatting childhood obesity.
Just like for the parents, a little regular moderate exercise combined with sensible eating habits can do a world of good for the health and fitness of our children. Exercise and eat WITH your kids as often as you can, and you will also be taking steps to get them over some difficult times coming in their lives as they face the pressures of growing up.
Having parents who care is a great asset in the battle against childhood obesity.