Parents does this sound familiar? “Mom can I have a cookie…only if your good,” “No time for dinner lets go to McDonalds,” “Be good at the store and you can get a candy bar or soda,” or “Go outside and play…No I am watching TV and playing video games.” Conversations like these are contributing to a social problem that has more than tripled in the last 30 years…Child Obesity, which is defined as a child that is well above normal weight for their height. Child obesity has both immediate and long term effects on a child’s mental and physical health. These children become a target for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, circulatory problems, diabetes, sleep apnea, and bone / joint problems, which will follow the child through adolescence and adulthood. Along with a weakened immune system, a child can suffer from social and psychological dilemmas. Children develop self-identity by noticing how others perceive them, unfortunately, adults and children tend to stereotype obese children as lazy, stupid, and ugly. Peers tend to look down on them, which could lead to verbal or maybe even physical abuse. A child’s self-esteem is greatly influenced by how others respond to them. As the child enters middle childhood, they withdrawal themselves from a social life and are more at risk for behavioral problems than other kids around them. If obesity follows the child to adolescence the child is more likely to suffer from severe depression.
Prevention is crucial for our kids. Schools may provide time to teach kids about the importance of health and physical activity, but kids now associate pizza with a vegetable. However, schools are doing the best they can with the resources they have. More importantly, it’s the parents buying and cooking the food at home. Health foods do tend to be more costly, but parents can limit convenience foods and meals as much as possible and don’t reward or bribe children with food. Kids need to be encouraged as much as possible to get out and be active, not only to burn calories but to build strong, healthy bones and muscles. Remember these are our children of the future.