Monday, October 13, 2008

Decrease Childhood Obesity With Household Chores

by Janet Nusbaum

Copyright (c) 2008 Simplified Spaces
In the past 20 years, childhood obesity has tripled in teenagers and doubled in younger children. While these statistics may be alarming and cause for concern for parents, they also don't have to be a permanent reality. Incorporating household chores into a child's daily routine has many benefits, two of which are contributing to your child's overall health and to your child's sense of self-sufficiency and confidence. Unfortunately, however, it was recently reported in the Wall Street Journal that the amount of time children spend doing chores has declined 12% since 1997 and 25% since 1981.

The fact is that children's lives are much different than they were even a decade ago. Today's children spend on average four hours per day watching TV, that was foreign to children a generation ago. Did you know that children who spend more than two hours per day in front of a screen (TV or computer) are more likely to have an unhealthy diet and are less likely to participate in physical activity? When you factor in homework time, hygiene and meals, there's no time left for children to participate in beneficial activities like physical activity, time spent with family or in positive contributions to the good of the family.

With the rise in suburban sprawl and city living, children no longer benefit from physical activity when the space required to engage in the activities doesn't exist. Sprawling metropolises and the conveniences within them make it harder for children to remain active in or around their homes. The simple acts of walking to school, riding a bike, or building a fort, once common activities for children, don't factor into the modern child's life. The absence of these activities contribute to the problem of childhood obesity, especially when one considers that it was once common for children to spend all day playing outside and contributing to the maintenance of the family property.

Children who choose to spend their extra few minutes of recreational time watching television and playing video games are at greater risk for developing a weight problem, since the minutes add up and eventually turn into hours toward a sedentary lifestyle.

Given the lifestyle changes of US children, parents must take steps to add opportunities for activity into their children's daily lives. Simple steps can be taken to prevent and combat childhood obesity. Like many other things, it starts from within the home. In addition to changing children's eating habits and attitudes towards physical activity, parents should incorporate vigorous exercise into their children's daily lives in the form of chores. The benefits of requiring children to do chores doesn't end with a clean house or even a newfound sense of responsibility - chores can also improve children's health by keeping them fit, lean and less susceptible to medical complications associated with childhood obesity, including childhood diabetes and pre-diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, bone disorders, gastro-intestinal diseases, high cholesterol, hyperlipidemia, premature puberty and psychological problems. Keeping active by participating in household chores during childhood can also reduce a child's risk of becoming an overweight adult and worsening pre-existing conditions.

It's clear that scheduling household chores as part of a child's regular routine is not only an investment in an orderly home and a well-adjusted child, but also an investment in a healthy body that can serve them well into adulthood and beyond. Children deserve every bit of a head start that parents can afford them. Contributing to a healthy lifestyle by requiring chore work is only one of the many ways that parents can condition their children, both mentally and physically, in preparation to live full, adult lives.

About the Author
Janet Nusbaum (AKA the Organizing Genie), WAHM of two, is an Organizing Consultant, Speaker & Author of 'Mom, Can I Help Around the House?' A Simple Step-by-step System for Teaching your Children Life-long Skills for Pitching in & Picking up', who helps individuals, families, seniors and businesses organize life and navigate transitions. Visit to receive a FREE chapter of her new book and family chore system.



Decrease Childhood Obesity With Household Chores



At October 17, 2008 at 12:37 AM , Blogger Sophia said...

Good post. Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood.To bring down childhood obesity rates we all need to do more than find medical quick fixes. The problem requires a change in the way society acts and feels and these changes will not happen overnight; being patient and acting wisely are keys to improving childhood obesity rates. Some simple changes in lifestyle like increase physical activities,making them take part in sports, limiting junk foods will help.


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