In the United States, obesity in children is definitely on the rise! It is now estimated that 1 in 3 American kids are considered either overweight or obese.
It’s shocking isn’t it? I remember back when I was at school, and it was rare to see a child who was overweight. All the kids seemed to be really skinny back then, and little wonder. We ate healthy and instead of sitting in front of a computer playing games, or sitting down playing on the Xbox, we were outside playing cowboys and Indians and running around.
The way kids live has changed and it is reflected in their growing size.
And sadly, if the trend continues, for the first time ever, we will see a younger generation die before their parents – as a normal thing.
So, the question is:
Who is INFLUENCING these kids and making them fat?
The biggest influencers of children are their parents. And that shouldn’t come as any surprise. Take a look at American adults and you’ll find that – according to Wikipedia – 64% of adults are overweight or obese, and 26% are obese. Wikipedia cites the source of those statistics to be “Obesity Statistics: U.S. Obesity Trends” published in 2006. So the statistics are probably worse now, given the rising rate of obesity.
Parents often, are working fulltime, and it results in them taking shortcuts when it comes to diet. Instead of cooking healthy foods at home, many parents turn to drive-thru alternatives and poor quality “heat and eat” options from supermarkets.
And the prevalence of computers, the internet and gaming consoles means kids aren’t playing outside so much anymore. They are sitting in front of a computer – and often eating junk foods while they’re playing games. And working parents, who are often time poor – allow their kids to do this.
It makes for a dangerous mix. A bad diet and sedentary lifestyle. Put simply: kids are getting old before their time. And they are getting lifestyle diseases as well – Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, breathing problems, some cancers – even strokes and heart disease.
Parents are working hard. Don’t get me wrong. But they – and their children – are paying for it with their health.
How to change things
To change things, parents have to take ownership of the problem. They need to see themselves as the major influencers of their children, and then take action to change it.
These things can help:
- Set aside family time each day to do something active – it only has to be half an hour – and make it fun!
- Take the time to prepare healthy meals – if you are time poor, try cooking healthy things that you can store in your freezer, and simply heat and eat on busy nights!
- Keep computer game time to a minimum – set a ceiling limit and encourage your kids to play in the backyard or sign up for a sport.
- Actively encourage your kids to participate in sports and other active interests – save money on takeaway food and use that money to enlist your kids in a sport that will help them get active.
- Be active yourself and eat healthy – you are to be an example to your kids.
- Don’t give your kids unhealthy foods for lunches and snacks – you have to set the rules.
Remember, it may seem like hard work in the beginning, but it only takes 30 days for a new action to become a habit. So work hard at creating these healthy habits.
Your kids will thank you for it in the future!