11 Mar Child Obesity
By Darrin Eaddy
I’m here to discuss childhood obesity. This is a topic that is not getting enough attention and for the life of me, I don’t know why. Well, actually I do. We forgot how to take care of ourselves, so how can we be expected to take care of our children? Who wants to admit that kind of failure?
This does not apply to everyone, of course, but if you look at today’s stats, you can see that childhood obesity is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18% of adolescents aged 12–19, 20% of children aged 6–11, and 10% of children aged 2–5 are obese. Since 2010 over 43 million kids under the age of 5 have been classified as overweight. This is a widespread problem that has moved beyond any one socioeconomic group or gender. We must ask ourselves, how did this happen, and why is it continuing to increase?
All we hear now is “He’ll only eat (insert fast food restaurant name…)”, or “She’s a grazer so we just have to set (insert fast food name here…) out for her, and she’ll eat when she’s ready – all that matters is that she eats”, or “He’s such a picky eater, we can’t put (insert HEALTHY food here…) on his plate”. Just out of curiosity, if you said that to your parents, how would that conversation have ended? A child can only be a finicky eater if they’re given too many options, and it’s the child who is allowed to pick and choose those options! The developing body of a young person can’t handle fast food every day.
It has been proven beyond doubt that a diet heavily laden with fast food has dire consequences for adults. Why on earth would you think it would be any less detrimental to our children? In many instances, the consequences prove to be a lot worse. This is a serious problem that directly impacts adult interaction in society. How can it not have a negative effect on the fragile emotional, physical, and social and well-being of our children?
According to an article written by Julie DeJean Marks, MEd, LCES, for the Obesity Action Coalition, “Adults who have been obese since childhood and developed low self-esteem are more likely to face discrimination in educational settings and the workplace, thus achieving lower educational status. They are also less likely to marry. [Among this population,] a greater decrease in activity, including walking, shopping, attending movies and parties, and increased feelings of sadness and hopelessness are found in adults between the ages of 51 to 69.”
Depression isn’t our only concern when it comes to childhood obesity. Diabetes, for example, was once believed to affect only adults, and used to be referred to as “adult onset diabetes”, but with it frequently showing up in obese children, it has now been re-titled as ‘Type 2” diabetes. Metabolic syndrome—elevated blood pressure and insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels occurring together—has become a common term in recent years. This cluster of conditions increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (according to the Mayo Clinic, 2014) and is strongly correlated with obesity. The syndrome was formerly associated with adults, but pediatric metabolic syndrome is now routinely diagnosed, although with less specific criteria (Jessup & Harrell 2005). Obstructive sleep apnea also occurs in children and adolescents who are severely obese.
With all of this, I am baffled, because obesity, in both children and adults is totally and absolutely preventable. It all comes down to lost structure. We have no game plan for what we want to do health wise. We pacify our kids with video games and fast food, just to keep them quiet. If we have bad habits, our children will have bad habits. If we eat poorly, we teach our children to eat poorly. Let’s get real. We must lead by example. If we want our kids to get active, they need to see Mommy or Daddy being active, and any form of play can be considered exercise. You go from a baby bottle right into a fast food restaurant and you wonder why little Susie is 50 lbs at 2 years old. Take a look at your food choices. Better yet take a look at yourself…