Writer’s Name: Nanette M. Buchanan
Title: Childhood Obesity
When bringing home your bundle of joy, you look for the chunky thighs, the full face and the cheeks no one can resist pinching. After all, the “baby fat” doesn’t last long. As the precious one begins to crawl, toddle and get busy, the weight begins to shed. They grow taller become more active and before you know it……their social activities begin. The active toddler keeps the family busy. They want to be a part of everything. Playing with siblings, and interacting with children at daycare settings, as they learn their physical limits. Unfortunately, there are parents who work long hours, are in single parent homes, and may not have older children to keep up with the baby. The solution for some of the homes, for the children in the home, has become technology. The televisions, the computer, and the electronic games have become leading forms of visual and physical entertainment. While the lack of exercise, free play, and creative play away from pre-set video tapes and television or cable shows, have all added weight to our children. The thought of carrying a toddler that weighs thirty-five to forty pounds develops problems that will cripple their future and the mother that carries them.
Today’s families seldom have the luxury of having parents stay home, have more play time with their children, or have the finances to pay for recreation programs. Most depend on the schools, organized field trips, gym periods, and once the child shows an interest, team sports. There are no guarantees that the “chunky” boy or girl will shed the weight in the primary grades. There are schools that have cut playground recess, cut the gym period, and make no effort to engage children in exercise.
Dinner at six is no longer a vision for many reasons. Both parents are working and there are few fortunate enough to have someone in the home to greet the children with an afternoon snack. For most the child goes to after care at the school; those that come home fix a quick snack. Many use the microwave for all three meals. Snacks are not always healthy. Fast food has replaced fresh fruits and balanced cooked meals, and supports the children who acquire taste buds for what is quickly made.
The four food groups and exercise have become a national concern. The First Lady, Michelle Obama has implemented healthy food guidelines for schools. She has joined and promoted exercise and the awareness of obesity in our schools, families and homes. Our children are at risk. Children have nutritional needs to develop mentally and physically. Their performances in life, in school, sports and as adults are dependent upon being healthy. Families must provide healthy choices. Children cannot be expected to enjoy fruits and vegetables as snacks if they do not receive full course meals with vegetables at home. Carrots, fruits, yogurt, and others are substituted by over sweetened juices and children love the sugar. Ramen Noodles are popular with our teens as well. They eat their way into their college years visiting the fast food chains without exercise.
As our children grow their bodies depend on the nutrition provided in balanced meals. However, the body also requires exercise. Preparing youth for life and the expectations of challenging jobs, we owe them. Everyone is not a superstar nor should they be expected to train as one. Daily exercise could be simple cardio, stretching, walking, or running. Putting a child in age appropriate activities builds character, provides exercise and teaches social interaction. They have a lifetime to stand in front of a television and participate in DVD exercise training. Our children should be allowed free play…… bringing back some of the basics kid games provides exercise. The fresh air, balanced meals and exercise would be the perfect opponents for obesity.
Childhood Obesity Facts
-Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
-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.
-In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.1,2
-Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors.3 Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.4
-Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.5,6
1. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. Journal of the American Medical Association 2010;303(3):242–249.
2. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Features on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2011.
3. National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Disease and Conditions Index: What Are Overweight and Obesity? Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 2010.
4. Krebs NF, Himes JH, Jacobson D, Nicklas TA, Guilday P, Styne D. Assessment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity. Pediatrics 2007;120:S193–S228.
5. Daniels SR, Arnett DK, Eckel RH, et al. Overweight in children and adolescents: pathophysiology, consequences, prevention, and treatment. Circulation 2005;111;1999–2002.
6. Office of the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. [pdf 840K] . Rockville, MD, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.