In America today, it is estimated that over 65% of the population is overweight with around 30% being at least clinically obese. Even more alarming is the estimation that 15% to 20% of the country’s children are overweight with nearly one third being at least clinically obese.
Now more than ever, something needs to be done to reverse this growing trend and prevent it from becoming an even bigger epidemic than it already is. By sitting back and allowing our children to become overweight and eventually obese, we are in effect severely shorting their lives.
The main ingredient in helping to eliminate child obesity is recognition. As parents, we can not take the stand that it is healthy for our children to be round and plump. Yes they need to eat enough to be healthy and to grow properly, but we must know where to draw the line between what is a healthy weight and what is excessive weight.
Often, parents will push food on their children with the idea that they need more food because they are growing. The fact is however, the energy expenditure required for growth accounts for only around 2% of their daily energy expenditure. With this in mind, a child’s appetite should be taken into account when determining how much they need to eat.
Over eating is more of a learned thing than one that just develops on its own. Children, much like adults, if given a well balanced diet with limited access to junk food and fast food, will eat all they need and stop when they are done. Forcing them to eat beyond that point, as well as giving them as much junk food and fast food as they want, only teaches them to over eat from an early age. This habit then usually carries over into their adult lives.
Sometimes when a parent does notice that their child is overweight, they will try to push diets on them that are too low in calories. This is not good for them either. They still need a certain amount of calories for their growth and restricting their calories too much can interfere with the normal growth process. It is better here to simply bring them back to the proper amount of calories they should be getting. Since they were over eating before, going to a normal amount of food will make them lose the extra weight just fine.
Last but certainly not least, lack of exercise is part of the reason that so many children get fat. The average school kid today spends more time watching TV and playing video games than they spend in school. Even when they are in school, most kids only get around 60 to 90 minutes maximum of physical education per week.
The bottom line here is, if we don’t stop over feeding our kids, and we don’t limit their intake of junk food and fast food, and we don’t limit their TV and video game time and get them more active, we will be creating an epidemic of obesity for our children that will reach truly epic proportions.