Child obesity is running rampant. Today, we see more overweight children, more life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and leukemia and even emotional behavior problems, and obesity ranks extremely high. The primary reason could be that our children are eating a Standard American Diet (SAD). This diet is rich in fast foods, and less nutrient-rich whole foods and are exposed to more and more toxins. We are experiencing a generational pattern of destruction to our immune system (Townsley, 1996).
According to Williams’s Essentials of Nutrition and Diet therapy, the widespread of the current status of obesity among children in 1960 was 5%, but in 2004 has decreased to 17% (Williams Essentials, 2011) – triple the rate from just one generation ago”. Moreover, it was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on September 2011, obesity in children has become a challenging issue for doctors and parents across the US. The percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period. The CDC, and other medical institutions are working relentlessly to spread awareness about child obesity (Pandey, 2012).
Parents are the culprit behind this dilemma. Children became obesity because what parents fed them in the first place and the activities associated with unhealthy eating became the norm. So, what can parents do to raise healthy children? First, realize that a change needs to take place by identifying the objections to change their family’s health and tackle them one by one. As parents, we become busy with daily activities and eating healthy seems like another “job”. Second, be willing to look at those objections and give yourself permission to take time to know where you and your family are and what do you want to change in the area of health. Third, look at some common objections and consider how to tackle what you may consider stumbling blocks but are really excuses.
- “My schedule is too busy!” Change the way you think. Health gives us more time to do what we want to do. When you are not sick, you have more time.
- “My kids are too picky!” Children will eat what they see you eat, if you look as if you are enjoying it. They are mimickers. You are probably a picky eater yourself.
- “Nutrition is too confusing!” Educate yourself and learn the basics of what to add and remove from your child’s current diet/lifestyle.
- “Health food is too expensive!” Compared to what? Being at home from work to care for a sick child cost more time and money
- “It’s too hard!” Stop fussing and start thinking. If your boss told you to do a job, and you say it’s too hard, how would he respond?
Parents should choose to identify and address the excuses and open to a new way of thinking.
I like these ideas on what can school do to promote good nutrition and physical activities:
Talk to the kids about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight throughout their childhood and incorporate daily walks or sporting activities into your routine. Do craft projects that inspire kits to eat healthier.
Promoting physical activity and health in the classroom encourages children to adopt a healthy lifestyle as they grow older. Healthy activities involve playing sports and games and simply walking outdoors. Specific lesson plans can focus on the importance of weight control, eating vegetables, nutrients and physical activity. Teachers can promote good health by incorporating exercise and health education into their daily lesson plans. Make goals before the school year and choose activities based on the needs of the children.
Provide physical and social environments that encourage and enable physical activity. For example, schools might allow access to facilities before and after school hours and during vacation periods, encourage teachers to provide time for unstructured physical activity during recess and during physical education class, and help school personnel to serve as active role models by enabling and encouraging their own participation in physical activity.
Center for Disease Control, (2013) Retrieved from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html
Kundan Dandey, (2012), Buzz, Retrieved from URL: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/childhood-obesity-statistics.html
Written by: Dr. Michelle Butler