Over the past three decades, American indulgence has led to a rising rate of obese children. So many children don’t get enough exercise. Along with less exercise, another problem we face is the kind of food we have available. Good news is exercise can be fun. Especially when you have something as fun as a swing set to play on.
The other day I was out shopping and on an impulse I grabbed a package of chips and a soda, not something I typically eat or drink anymore. As I typically do with junk food, I looked at the caloric intake label. The calories in that one bag of chips were just under 700 calories. Not that I was surprised, but in that moment as I looked at the cost of my impulsive indulgence, I mused about how the food Americans eat on a regular basis is not anything like food from past generations. No wonder the rates of obesity are rising so quickly and so dangerously!
In case you were wondering, I did eat that bag of chips. And as I said before, I don’t typically eat chips. I don’t keep them in the house. For my 5-year-old daughter, chips are entirely a luxury item. And she has never even tasted any soda other than Sprite.
Even so, my daughter has access to plenty of food that I consider junk. We have rules about sugar intake, (I don’t have any problem keeping a lid on other types of junk food) and it is a constant challenge to ensure that her calories are nutritiously valuable calories, rather than empty ones. Poor choices surround us on a daily basis. It is important to the long-term health of your children to educate them every day about how to stay healthy by making healthy choices and getting regular exercise, especially in the world today. We highly recommend the video below that highlights a truly motivational story of a young boy named Austin.
Issues Surrounding Childhood Obesity
The rising rates of obesity are telling in many ways, correlating with genetics, poverty, single parenthood, and lower education levels.
Obesity in children is causing disease factors in children that were once only thought to be adult issues, like hypertension, pre-diabeties, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea. Aside from the disease factors, obesity in children, like adults, causes social and psychological problems, stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
Outside Factors that Influence Childhood Obesity
What’s in the home influences childhood obesity, but it’s not all on the parents. Outside influences include: schools, daycare facilities, religious institutions, neighborhood communities, medical care facilities, government programs, the media, food and beverage industries, and entertainment industries.
Schools play a critical role in the development of healthy behaviors. It is important that your child’s school is well-versed in healthy eating habits and exercise habits.
How to Maintain Health in Today’s World
I’m not a health professional, but as a mother, I find that keeping tabs on how to stay healthy is a never-ending battle for myself and my daughter.
We don’t keep a lot of junk food in the house, but I am not the type of mom who severely monitors my daughter’s intake of food. She is allowed plenty of junk. But we have a continuing conversation surrounding healthy eating choices and getting plenty of exercise.
Luckily for me, my daughter, at 5, still loves to run and play. Getting her off the play set is more of a challenge than getting her onto it .
But food is a constant trial and tribulation. In today’s world I believe that it is very
important to educate your child on how to eat indulgently on occasion, but maintain healthy choices daily. Too much restriction just leads to obsessive desire. Being too lax leads to poor habits. It’s a fine balance and one that is difficult to maintain for parents as their children age.
Eating a little bit of junk is okay. Eating a lot of junk makes our bodies sick. When I talk to her about healthy eating choices I remind her that eating a lot of sugar makes her tummy feel sick. (Yes, she has experienced that!) And I remind her that eating treats is okay after you’ve had something nutritious in her stomach.
As a parent, it’s a conversation that is worth having, over and over.
Children’s health habits are formed during childhood. Parents and guardians; please do your part and get kids excited about outdoor play…
Give your child a gift that will last a lifetime, a healthy body!