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Childhood Obesity and Parental Responsibility

Childhood Obesity and Parental Responsibility

The incidence of childhood obesity is alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.4 percent of 2-5 year olds are obese; for 6-11 year-olds it’s 17.0 percent; and for the 12-19 year-old crowd, it’s a whopping 17.6 percent. 

The health risks as a result of obesity include heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea. Obesity in childhood often leads to obesity in adulthood. The younger it begins, the more worrisome the long-term health risks.

When I look back on photographs from my own childhood days, I am stunned at the size of children back then. Then again, we didn’t have access to junk food in school and fast food was for rare occasions. Every meal had vegetables — and I don’t mean french fries — and portions were reasonable. Rarely a day went by when you wouldn’t find us running around outside burning up the calories. 

Remember that old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well it won’t actually keep the doctor away, but there is no doubt that forming healthy eating habits at a young age builds a strong foundation for a healthier life.

A good diet and exercise will not eradicate every health problem, but it will cut down on preventable illness. And for those who have chronic illnesses, a healthy diet will help them to maintain strength and avoid additional problems.

With all the talk these days about health care reform, we must accept responsibility for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The burden on the health care system due to obesity a tremendous waste.

Got kids? Substitute an apple for chocolate cake. Water instead of high-sugar drinks. Normal size portions rather than super-sized. The Centers for Disease Control offers these Tips for Parents to help children maintain a healthy weight:

    * Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.

    * Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.

    * Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.

    * Serve reasonably-sized portions.

    * Encourage your family to drink lots of water.

    * Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.

    * Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

So many things are out of our hands, but our diet is not one of them. We CAN control what we eat and we CAN monitor our children’s eating habits. In fact, we owe it to them. It doesn’t make you the “bad guy.” I makes you a responsible parent, definitely the “good guy.”

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7 comments

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12:22PM PDT on May 30, 2010

Good tips!

2:16PM PST on Feb 8, 2010

I find children from all walks of life have problems with obesity. I was a Girl Guide leader in an upper middle class neighbourhood and many of the children were overweight. Some actually thought by eating pop tarts they were getting a serving of fruit. All parents must take more responsibility

12:57PM PDT on Apr 17, 2009

Great article! I agree wholeheartedly that something needs to be done. I don't agree, however, that the increase in childhood obesity is directly related to an increase in single family homes. As a middle school teacher, I see students from all walks of life making poor decisions. I think first we need to make sure school lunches only offer healthy alternatives, and secondly, parents need to stop being so lazy! We all love immediate gratification, but eating healthy usually requires a little more time and preparation. Turn off the T.V. and video game system, teach your children how to cook, and after dinner, enjoy a beautiful family evening walk.

6:30AM PDT on Apr 10, 2009

I am the thinnest one in my whole family. My biggest concern is my 8 year old niece who weighs well over 175 pounds. She can hardly walk, she has to wear deoderant already, ans is classified as handicapped. my sister tried for years to pove that there was a medical poblem to explain her daughters obesity to no avail. There is no health condition causing he obesity it's the way they allow her and themselves to eat. They almost always eat out, eat lots of junkfood like chips, candy, and lots of icecream. people forget about all those dyes and preservatives that play a part
in the obesity level. People eat just for the sake of eating and big meals. Youur stomach is the size of your fist. Of course its going to stretch if you put more than a fistfulls in. If you eat slower you give your stomach time to tell your brain that it's full. Stop trying to solve eveything with food. The biggest thing though is; only eat when you're hungry.

8:56AM PDT on Apr 9, 2009

Mark, far more children are raised by a single parent due to divorce than born out of wedlock. Either way, even married parents living together rarely have the luxury of 1 working and 1 staying at home devoted to child-rearing. That is simply a fact of our struggling-to-survive-this-economy society.

7:44AM PDT on Apr 9, 2009

I believe the increase in obesity is directly tied to the increase in children born out of wedlock (40% in the US now). Of course it IS parental responsibility, but the lack of 2 parents causes kids to get a corresponding lack of quality attention. A single mom or dad who has to work is stressed to the max when they have kids to raise too. This means that they have less time to spend preparing proper food and on the exercise/activity portion like getting their kids involved in sports. As a father of 3 and a long time childrens coach this has been my observation.

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