Thursday, January 15, 2009

Simple Solutions to Childhood Obesity

by Steve Cowley

(c) 2008 Steve Cowley

I am fortunate in living in a very beautiful part of Spain - right next door to Benidorm! For those of you unaware of the significance of that statement, let's just say that Benidorm has a bit of a reputation; it is seen to epitomise the very worse of "The Brits Abroad" syndrome! In reality it is a lively, fun, holiday resort which certainly doesn't deserve much of its bad press. As I drive through it though I can't help but notice the sheer size of so many of the holiday makers - mum, dad, and kids, all clones of each other, waddling along with stomachs leading the way! Of course, I know nothing about them as people and it is certainly not my place to judge; my comments are related to their physical size and the problems that are inherent in carrying too much weight.

If there were no health issues attached to being overweight then we would not be concerned about it. But there are - the research is quite conclusive about that. If you carry too much extra fat then your health is in danger. Recent figures painted an alarming picture of just how much of a problem this is becoming. If things go on as they are then within a few years some 12 million adults and 1 million children will be obese in the UK alone. Over the past 20 years levels of obesity have doubled in adults and tripled in children and adolescents. The problem is even more extreme in the US where the massive numbers of overweight and obese people are leading to serious public health problems.

As adults we are free to make certain choices as to what we do with our bodies. However, we rightly protect our children from making some of these choices until they are old enough to understand the consequences for themselves. We don't let them drink or smoke until they reach a certain legal age; which or course leads to that age old "game" that nearly all adolescents play where they "experiment" anyway! However, where food and exercise are concerned we are perhaps not quite so careful. It is quite legal for children to stuff themselves with foods of all kinds, and in quantities that would make our forefathers turn in their graves.

I believe there are some simple answers to a majority of the child obesity problems. Unfortunately, simple isn't always easy! Like so many of society's problems the solution may revolve around what goes on in the family itself!

In my work as a fitness professional I have always taught a very simple formula in dealing with weight loss. We need to move more and eat less; actually I encourage people to change their eating habits, very often this means eating less but just occasionally it can actually mean eating more or more regularly! Move more and eat less - not exactly rocket science is it?

If we look at the way children spend their time we can see that so much of their life now revolves around sitting down. Whether it is in lessons at school; watching TV; playing on computer consoles; or just staying indoors. The media has frightened us into keeping our children locked inside and it is a lot easier for them to entertain themselves in front of a screen. As parents we may not always approve of this strategy but at least our children are safe. Contrast this to when I was young - a few years ago I know! We were always outside playing, never at home.

So, one of our answers has to be to get our children moving again. If you are worried about their safety then find a supervised activity - there are so many to choose from, not just the traditional team sports either.

The second solution is a bit more delicate! One of my mentors told me that we cannot not teach! Excuse the double negative but he meant that we were always teaching something, often with our actions rather than our words. As parents we teach all the time - our children are very astute and they learn far more from our example than from our words! "Do as I say" is nowhere near as powerful as "Do as I do"! This means that if we are very much over weight as parents then it is very difficult to tell our children to lose weight!

So, for many families the solution to their children's obesity is right there - in the family. If it is tackled together as a family problem then the solution is much more likely to be accepted by the child. Lead from the front and by example and your children will generally follow you. Say one thing but do another and there is no chance!

There are several additional benefits to adopting this united approach. It can actually be a great bonding activity within the family unit as everyone works together and supports each other in tackling a shared issue. It also extends the health benefits to the whole family, not just the child. Finally of course, eating a healthy diet is often cheaper too!

Two simple things: Get your child moving again and change their eating habits. If you want more information on a diet plan that everyone can follow, is enjoyable, and gets outstanding results have a look at my website below.

About the Author
Steve Cowley has run full-time Fitness and Martial Arts Clubs for over 25 years. His goal is to empower people to take control of their own lives and achieve the fitness success they desire. For further information about his weight loss recommendations visit http://www.fitnesssuccess.info

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Simple Solutions to Childhood Obesity

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