HEALTH

Combating Childhood Obesity

A common misconception today is that a chubby baby is a healthy baby. Yes, we all love cute, chubby babies, but the sad reality is that too many of those chubby babies will later turn into unhealthy, chubby adults. As parents, it is our job to ensure we build a good foundation for our children by introducing them to a wide variety of foods, and not let them over indulge on sweet sugary deserts and empty calories. With the increasing popularity and convenience of fast food, nearly one out of every five children are battling obesity. Obesity is now common throughout the world, regardless of race or gender. With obesity becoming a problem at these early ages, there is a significantly higher likelihood of adult disease and health problems earlier in life. Obesity is fast becoming a wide spread health danger to our human world. With more advances in modern technology, we have found ways to do things the lazy way, eliminating a lot of physical exercise we used to get daily just going about our normal routines. Kids now ride scooters or four wheelers rather than bicycles or roller skates. They now choose to spend their free time in front of the computer, television, or with a video game rather than outside playing tag and hide and go seek. This decrease in exercise is a common culprit among today’s children. We, the parents, should be strong, and limit the time we allow them to spend playing video games or in front of the television. Sometimes, we may have to change our own habits to get them to change theirs. Go outside and play with your children, play ball, go bike riding, etc. Doing things as a family often makes them more fun, and therefore will be easier to get your kids involved in. It seems like every day as parents, our lives get busier and faster paced, and we have less and less time to accomplish what needs to be done. We often look for the easy way out, giving in to running thru drive thru on the way home from work, rather than going home and cooking dinner as we should. If we prepare our meals, we know what the ingredients are, and have the power to make healthy choices. Going with the fast food option is more convenient, but often is very low on the nutritional value side of things, and teaches your kids that it is okay to eat that junk, often leasing them to develop bad eating habits of their own. If you should go the fast food way occasionally, opt for salads and grilled chicken, or try to go with the healthiest choices on the menu, rather than the all too alluring burger and fries. Kids who spend a lot of time inside in front of television or video games also increase their risk for obesity by indulging in junk food. They eat ice cream, potato chips, cookies, etc., adding to their caloric intake, while reducing the amount of physical exercise they get, again increasing their odds for becoming obese significantly. Basically, childhood obesity is caused by lack of physical exercise, bad food choices, and to be frank, lack of parental control over their children’s lives. Obese children are at increased risk for all kinds of health conditions. Common problems include early onset diabetes, joint problems from carrying excess weight, heart disease, and mental and social issues caused by being overweight. School age children often think it is fun to pick on each other, and this joking can cause a world of self-esteem problems for the overweight child that will often carry over into adulthood. Then of course, the health risks are increased since most obese children will eventually turn into obese adults, with a variety of other health issues to deal with. It is important to do everything you can to prevent childhood obesity from striking your kids, as you are the first weapon against this dangerous problem. Teach your kids how to make healthy food choices, and most importantly get them outside and active, even if you should do it too. Parents by no means take all the blame for this problem, but we can take steps to help combat it before it begins.

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