Childhood Obesity

United States
February 18, 2009 9:47pm CST
Childhood Obesity is on the raise here in the U.S. I'm not sure about other countries, so I can only speak for our country from my personal opinion on it. I think it's a delicate balance. We do not necessarily want our children to develop eating disorders such as anorexia but we do want them to be healthy. My thoughts are two-fold on this subject. I think in some regards it can be linked to our food/diet. We have more kids getting fast-food meals that are loaded with calories, and are generally twice the amount they need at one sitting. Our processed foods are loaded with chemicals and products that our bodies do not digest. We have fewer and fewer diets that consist of organic and non-processed foods. I think we can handle this situation by knowing portion control, the food groups, and going back to organic foods for our children (and ourselves). I think the other area of their life that has changed over the years is the lack of exercise. We are witnessing recesses become shortened in the school day, and Physical Education time being shortened to twice a week at most elementary schools. We have more technology, and more children stay inside watching television and playing video games instead of playing outside. We've seen some increase in the outside dangers such as pedophiles, but it is no reason why parents cannot go outside with their children for at least one hour per day. What happened to family bike rides? Family walks? My thoughts are that is our society (we) that are making our children over weight. We need to petition the schools to have physical education class daily, and to have recess twice a day, even if that means lengthening the school day/year. We need to spend one hour minimum each day with our children outside with activities designed to get the blood going. We need to stop eating fast food, and spend more nights at home cooking nutritious food for our children. We need to stop making excuses and start making a difference. What are your thoughts on this state of affairs? Do you feel there is an easy solution? Would you be willing to have your child in school a tad longer if it meant they were healthier in the long run? Do you have family activity time? What sorts of things do you do with your family? What are your eating habits like? Do you eat lots of fast food because of time or do you enjoy a home cooked meal? Is this problem only in the U.S. or is it world wide?
1 person likes this
9 responses
@neha2k94u (408)
• India
19 Feb 09
well this is linked with food and diet and the children who are obessed are generally from rich families I suppose... Here in india I have seen most of the population under poverty line... how they can be... Isn't it... So, its not the same with all the countries...
3 people like this
• United States
19 Feb 09
Here in the U.S. it effects both rich and poor, that doesn't seem to discriminate. And I'd say more poor children here are over-weight because processed foods are cheaper to purchase then healthy foods. Thank you for responding. Namaste-Anora
@Lore2009 (7386)
• United States
20 Feb 09
Hi Anora, I like what you wrote here and I can't agree less. Have your read the book "The Case for Make Believe"? I'm sure you would know all of what the author is talking about, but it's a great book to agree on. As I've told you before, I don't have children yet, but I live with my parents who have high cholesterol and glucose. They both work very hard and my dad is a chef, so that doesn't really help. But we've done many alterations from our past life style, like we don't drink soda anymore, we keep less sweets in the house, we eat whole grain rice, and we just finished building our little green house in the back yard. Now that we've started eating more vegetables(although, compared to many other American families, I think we always have) I can taste more flavor in the vegetables itself and I find myself less eager for sauces and dressings. There are so many factors that make us blinded by what is important... we use a car to transport, we use a monitor to spend our time or talk to our friends, our role models are superficial people, there's 'tasty' and cheap fast food on every corner on the block and people are not out and about anymore. I've met a girl who was a single mother with twin girls and she would bribe her kids with french fries to behave!
2 people like this
@Lore2009 (7386)
• United States
20 Feb 09
Oh yeah, for sure... I mean, they don't even have to have stimulants in them, they can be just simply be addicting like shopping. Anyways, good for you for cutting back too. I think it's all about balance and alterations.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Feb 09
I agree. I mean, I still indulge in sweets, but not as I used to. I found a wonderful peanutbutter cookie in my recent organic mailer that is completely gluetin free. It's WONDERFUL. They are truly delicious. So yes, it can be done. Thanks again Lore. Anora
@mysdianait (65079)
• Italy
19 Feb 09
There is a danger of kids becoming larger here in Italy recently too. Junk foods and eating outside normal mealtimes combined with less outdoor activities are the cause here too. So many of them get lifts to and from school instead of walking like they did in past years and then once they get home, instead of kicking a ball about on the green with other kids, they are all stuck indoors with their PlayStation. That's not only endangering their health but their minds too.
2 people like this
• United States
19 Feb 09
You know, I can remember walking to school most of my school days. When did we stop this?! Do we blame the rise in pedophiles, or are we becoming lazy?? Thank you for sharing about Italy. Perhaps all of us mothers can work together to change things and help save our children from this epidemic. Namaste-Anora
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@mysdianait (65079)
• Italy
19 Feb 09
The 'mums' were different then. Their day was different. There is not ime for them to walk their kids to school anymore because they have to work nowadays too
2 people like this
• China
20 Feb 09
the problem also is emerging in China with more and more children eating junk food and exercising less. For my baby, I just try to encourage her away from those foods and some spicy but unhealthy snack. i have the nanny cook her three meals a day. And lunch is the dinner while for the supper, i just let her get 80 percent full, which will be an healthy even for adult.
2 people like this
• United States
20 Feb 09
Wow, a nanny. That must be a luxary lol. Sometimes I wish I had one. Anyhow, I have heard about the eating until you are only 80% full. We heard it on a program about a year ago and my husband and I started doing that ourselves. We also had a friend of his tell us to dish out on our son's plate what we thought he would eat, then take half back off the plate. That little trick has been working wonders. Though, we don't have a problem with our son and junk food. We do have a problem with him stealing apples though lol. Thanks for responding. Anora
• Canada
19 Feb 09
Being located in North America, Canada specifically, I can attest that we have the same problem here but perhaps not to the same degree. Food, exercise and lifestyle, as you mentioned are all contributing factors. This responsibility rests solely on the parents. Kids at a young age do not have a choice of which foods they eat, what activities to do and how they live. I have a feeling that families that are not so well-off fall into the trap of consuming fast food and processed foods because it is cheaper and easier than natural foods and kids like the taste of it better. This is all at the expense of our children's health. What a lot of people don't realize is that the money that they think they are saving on food is used many times over on health costs later on in life, not to mention the emotional/mental effects of poor health. While parents are worrying about making ends meet, they rarely understand how their current lifestyle will affect their children into adulthood. Also, kids are not taught about food and how it affects our bodies. Schools should have a mandatory lunch program that teaches kids about food, its nutritional value and how it affects our bodies. The teacher can talk about the food that is to be served for that day. At the same time, schools should have exercise programs along the same vein, teaching kids the benefits of certain exercises, stretching, etc. instead of just having regular gym class. I don't understand why the government doesn't realize that a healthier population is more productive, happier and less costly in the long run. Personally, I don't allow my son to eat fast food very often. He is not overweight and is very active compared to the rest of his classmates. His best friend is not at all active and the amount of junk food he eats makes it visibly apparent. I try to teach my son about good health, healthy foods and their benefits and the results have been great. He likes to eat healthy and doesn't even use dressing on his salad! Of course, he's still a young boy so he still likes junk food. But I know that he will not overdo it when he is at his friend's place.
• United States
20 Feb 09
Oh, you bring up a wonderful point. I don't think even when I attended school that we had a class that specifically dealt in nutrition. Oh, we had health class but it was a vague overview of everything. I think a proper class that dealt only in nutrition would help children to understand the food they eat. We're hoping that by instilling these sorts of values into our children that when they are older and start visiting friends that they too will make healthy choices.
@dawnald (84075)
• Shingle Springs, California
19 Feb 09
I think it has to do with several things. 1. less exercise like you said 2. diet - more packaged foods, more fast food, fewer fruits and vegetables. Have you heard the theory that the food manufacturers put ingredients into the food that they KNOW will make people crave more food and make them fatter? Don't know that it's true but I believe that it could be. 3. the media - got to have all those lovely fast foods, packaged foods, etc. 4. parents not being parents and insisting that their children get a healthy diet from early on 5. peer pressure - all their friends are eating all those lovely fattening foods I'm sure that there are other factors too.
2 people like this
• United States
19 Feb 09
Dawn Thanks for responding. You made really great points. I think you're right, media does play a huge factor. With all of the fast food commercials that run rampant during children's programming, it's no wonder they know what they are. Thanks for sharing. Namaste-Anora
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@Grandmaof2 (7603)
• Canada
19 Feb 09
Not only in the US. We have the very same issues in the whole of Canada. You did a very good job of explaining the situation exactly the way it is here as well. Thank God for good parents, my daughter makes the kids eat healthy, and their dad works long hours so he can provide plenty of fruit and vegetables and always what they need for a balanced diet. No doubt the kids do eat some junk food and as a treat they do get some fast food as well but there's plenty of exercise, my grandson plays hockey and my granddaughter does skating. Winter time they go sledding and summer time the kids have swimming lessons. They go bike riding and goodness knows what all. They're a very active family. The kids are blessed with a good school because recesses is outside and supervised. If my daughter needs me to pick up the kids she needs to first notify the school which I think is great because we have pedophiles here as well unfortunately. It's a shame all children couldn't have the life my grandkids have. Thank You for an excellent post.
2 people like this
• United States
19 Feb 09
Thank you for the in-depth response. It's interesting that this seems to be a world-wide epidemic (though I use that term loosely). It's good to know there are other parents and grandparents out there that are concerned, and doing their best to provide healthy meals and lots of exercise. Even my husband and I talk about how different it is now for kids-they seem to do less then we did. We can remember running around the neighborhood, climbing trees, playing tag, etc. Seems like we see less kids doing this today. Our schools here also have a check out policy so that we don't let kids go with the wrong person. If I were not able to pick up one of my children the person that did would have to be on a list at the start of the school year. Sad that we've so many of those creepy mean people out there. Namaste-Anora
@seabeauty (1480)
• United States
20 Feb 09
My daughter is overweight. Has been since she was two. We do eat a lot of junk. She is active though. She goes to the play ground and plays hide and seek with her friends. Sometimes she will complain about being out of breath and sometimes her leg hurts when she runs. We don't eat fast food because I don't have the money for that. As far as meals I can't say they are always healthy. I do use real butter in my cooking. We do drink regular soda. I know it's horrible and we need to change our eating habits. I would be willing to let my kids stay in school longer if it means they get to do a little exercise.
1 person likes this
• United States
20 Feb 09
I think it's difficult at times for all families to eat healthy in the US. Processed foods are far more inexpensive and more ready then healthy foods. You just have to look at product placement lol. And the use of cartoon characters to sell this processed food makes it even worse for the parent doing the shopping. I'm glad that you're willing to try and change your diet and get more exercise. Thanks for sharing so honestly. Namaste-Anora
@TLChimes (4838)
• United States
19 Feb 09
I think you have all made very real points. Here in Detroit kids still walk to school. But they don't have a recess that allows physical play. Not even any play equipment in most school yards. It is basically cheaper to get the ready made garbage then to make the healthier foods. To get produce that isn't gross you have to travel and to many it isn't worth it. Also parents aren't as aware as they once were of what's best. One minute we are told how healthy milk is and now they want kids to drink 2% from 2 years on. They tend to not know the new rules. Before kids got up to work with their parents or played with their friends. Now they are kept inside "safe" from the bad things that walk the streets. There are far more additives, chemical, and general garbage being added to our foods and the meats we eat. As for a longer school day... I'm not sure that's as necessary as shorter homework hours. How can a kid who spends 4 hours (at an elementary level) doing homework a night, get enough play time? Here they are so busy pushing schools to pass these standard tests (important don't read me wrong) that they forget the extras like P.E. Art and Music. Then they send these kids as young as first grade do all this homework and still they fail the testing. They need to find time to let the kids be active with in the time they are there and find a Balance between homework and home play.