Monday, March 9, 2009

The Crazy Rise of Childhood Obesity

by Joanne Williams

Statistics have shown that for children between the years of 2 and 5 and adolescents between 12 and 19, the rate of obesity has doubled since the 1970s. For children between the ages of 6 and 11, the rate has tripled. Almost one third of all children today are at risk for becoming overweight. Sixteen percent of them already are.

Are boys more prone to rise in child obesity? When it comes to boys and girls, the rates of child obesity are similar. The rates have increased since the 1960s for both sexes. In the last years of the previous century, over 29% of all boys were at risk for becoming overweight, while 27% of all girls struggled with the same problem. Of course, some groups are more affected by this phenomena than others. Among boys, those who are of Mexican American descent tend to have a greater problem with obesity, with over 42% of boys in this group being affected by the problem. Among girls, the problem is more serious for those of African descent.

Why childhood obesity should not be taken lightly The problem of children being obese is a grave one, in that it can have lasting effects on one's emotional and physical health. In the year 2000, it was estimated that about a third of all children born in the United States are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. These children are developing Type II Diabetes and high blood pressure at an early age. They are placing themselves at increased risk for heart disease and other obesity-related diseases. Their weight also makes them the target of bullies and children who insult and taunt them about their weight. This can ruin their self-esteem and put them at risk for depression.

Lack of physical activity - a major cause of child obesity One of the sad facts of our time is that young people have fewer and fewer chances to be physically active. In elementary and primary schools, quite often there is a lack of space and equipment for serious physical education, not to mention fewer and fewer teachers with specialized training in this area. Children spent the vast majority of their time at school sitting down behind a desk. The vast majority of six to eight year olds are allowed only thirty minutes of regulated physical education in their weekly school curriculums! The game fields and playgrounds are being sold off or abandoned.

At home, children are discouraged from playing outside due to their parents' concerns with safety. Along with lack of physical activity comes the convenience of fast food. There are fast food restaurants virtually around every corner, and they have easy access to snack foods full of saturated fats and sugars. In addition, obese parents are more likely to have obese children. The reason for this is two-fold. First, obese parents probably pass down their poor habits to their children. Second, genetics plays a role in obesity.

Individual obesity control plans work best for children For children dealing with obesity, it is best to evaluate the individual's situation, taking in to consideration environmental, genetic, and metabolic concerns while treating the arising physical and psychological damage that has arisen. An obese child's eating plan should also come with an exercise plan. Long term counseling is often needed to deal with self esteem issues relating to obesity that can affect the child's performance in the real world. It's important for parents to be role models to their children and emphasize the importance of physical activity and healthy eating. Parents can create healthy environments for their children by doing regular physical activities, such as biking, swimming, or walking together. They should encourage their children to participate in sports, dance, martial arts, and etcetera. This allows children to develop an appreciation of physical activity and enjoy exercising. When it comes to eating, parents need to implement diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. They can make eating enjoyable and healthy by preparing food together and eating together as a family. Fast-food should be limited and reserved for special occasions. Way too often, we reward ourselves for a job well done with food. Child obesity can easily be controlled. The process can be made fulfilling by using creative ideas. Look for other ways to reward your children for doing a great job, such as a special shopping trip or a day with just mom or dad. Not only will the kids feel appreciated, it will contribute to their well being in the long run.

About the Author
Joanne Williams is worried about child obesity and the effects it will have on this generation. It is a passionate subject as both her children were considered obese for a while. She has written extensively on this subject and shares her thoughts atchild obesity



The Crazy Rise of Childhood Obesity



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