It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look around, and see that our children are getting bigger and bigger; and I don’t mean in a healthy way. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 17% ( 12.5 million ) of children between the ages of 2-19 are obese. The rate of obesity since 1980 has almost tippled. This has led many experts to state that our children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. I am sure that none of you want to even have to think about the possibility of outliving your children. But this is exactly where some of you are headed if you don’t take action now.
There are a number of reasons that have combined to create this problem. Fast food is cheap, and easy to get. Combined that with parents who have ever increasingly busy schedules, and it makes it difficult for children to be fed a healthy diet.
Another major reason is an increasingly smaller amount of physical activity. Children are allowed to sit in front of a TV or a computer for far longer. Combining this with less and less physical education in school due to budget constraints, and it’s a no-win situation for the kids. As a youngster, I would spend countless hours on my bicycle roaming the neighborhood. But we also did not seem to have the problem of child predators like we do now. There are still many different ways your child can get a lot of exercise.
The increasing amount of poor nutrient snack foods at the grocery store is also adding to the problem. Almost 80% of the dietary products available in a typical grocery store have more calories than needed for a healthy adult diet. Again, this could be because of the lack of time on your part as the parent. But what is more important? Your social life or your child’s health?
Last but certainly not least are parents who are not willing to enforce healthy dietary rules at mealtime. An example of this is watching TV instead of eating meals at the dinner table. This habit also adds to a lack of communication between parents and children. This should be a time for the family to get together to discuss the day’s events. It is also a time for Mom and Dad to address problems within the family. It seems like the only time parents and children actually talk during a meal is when they go out to eat. You might think that parents would take this as an opportunity to enforce healthy eating habits. But based upon my own personal observation, it seems like just the opposite. Recently while eating breakfast at a local restaurant, I paid attention to the families with children who were noticeably overweight. These same children where the ones eating junk food. The parents seemed to allow them to eat whatever they wanted, regardless of how bad it might have been for their children. This should have been a time for the parents to try to teach healthy eating habits.
Again, according to the CDC, Type 2 diabetes is a steadily growing and serious health concern, particularly in children between the ages of 10 and 19. Health care providers find more and more cases of Type 2 diabetes in children. This is usually a disease that is found in people 40 and older. While the majority of this is in children of minority heritage, it is found in all racial groups. Up to 46% of all new diabetic cases each year were referred to pediatric centers. I can’t speak for you, but that is a frightening statistic to me. To think, some of our children are now developing a disease that was once consider as “Adult Onset.” I did not develop it until after I was 60.
There are a number of additional health issues associated with being obese, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bone and joint problems, problems with sleep, liver and gall bladder disease, depression, and substance abuse. While this is not a complete list, it does give you some idea of what kind of life your child could have if their weight is held in check.
What this all boils down to is that it is better to say “NO” a few more times now than to have to make all kinds of doctor appointments for them in the future. And we haven’t even talked about what kinds of abuse your child will have to tolerate in school from being overweight. That issue alone raises a whole new set of problems.