Childhood Obesity Causes and How We Can End It
Childhood obesity is an epidemic all across the world. According to Healthy Communities Healthy Future, the estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States.
Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs. This is all preventable and is not only negatively affecting people’s health and quality of living, it is also killing the economy!
Obesity is preventable, treatable and curable yet we are headed in the wrong direction. Despite there being 36,180 gyms in the USA (Statista.com) and more information on healthy living on the internet than ever accessible before, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
Childhood obesity also has effects on short and long term health. Immediate health effects include high blood pressure and cholesterol (IN CHILDREN!), Prediabetes, joint problems, sleep apnea and of course, psychological problems since other kids might not be so accepting of obesity (that is wrong, for the record, but a brutal reality of childhood).
Long term they are more likely to be obese as adults, more likely to get heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis.
The Causes of Childhood Obesity
The cause of this is simple. Very rarely is it genetic, or a thyroid issue, or any other excuse some parents will make. It is caloric balance. Kids are not exercising enough and they are eating too much, period.
In this convenience world, kids are more likely to sit and play video games than to go play outside. Back when I was a kid we played stick-ball and anything we could get our hands and feet on. Now kids are more likely to play baseball… on their video game console.
The days of home cooked meals have been replaced by microwave meals or fast food picked up on the way home from work by mom or dad. Can we blame this on the breakdown of the family unit and end of the family dinner?
That is another article topic, but it isn’t even debatable that the lack of home cooked meals in exchange for convenience meals plays a role, as well as parents not playing with their kids enough or encouraging them play with other kids. It is just too easy to give them an IPAD and get them out of your hair.
Never Rely on Government
Despite overwhelming research showing obesity would decrease if physical education was increased, schools across the USA are decreasing physical education. In a Harvard Study, “almost seven in 10 parents say their child’s school does not provide daily physical education even though experts recommend 150 to 225 minutes per school week.”
My children in 2nd and 4th grade in Elgin, IL, have physical education three times a week for 20 minutes. Considering they are at school 6.5 hours per day, this is a very insignificant amount of time especially considering that healthy and fit kids are more attentive.
PLUS, we have them sitting in unhealthy, ergonomically incorrect seats that also harm them. That is another article all together so please see this video:
Why we need stand up desks in schools.
The Solution for Childhood Obesity
It’s pretty simple to solve in theory, but in practice raising healthy children takes time, work and effort. Kids emulate their parents, like it or not. In direct contrast to this, children of alcoholics are 4x more likely to become alcoholics than children of non-alcoholics.
Thus, if YOU live a healthy lifestyle, one can assume your children will as well. Do your children see you drink plain water or sugary soda? Do you scarf down Big Macs in from of your kids or do you eat a healthy wrap?
Do you end the day with a drink and a TV show or by throwing a baseball with them? These are all activities that can make or break their chances of being healthy with a high quality of life versus being obese.
Some Pointers to Be Healthy
It starts in the kitchen. Here are some tips:
- Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy food and snacks. Fruits, veggies and non-fried goods.
- Prepare foods for the week. Leftovers can be a good thing! Avoid the last minute McDonald’s runs.
- Avoid Sugary drinks and opt for water and natural juices you can also dilute with water to keep calories down.
And then exercise!
Since physical education is no longer emphasized in school, find a sport! Soccer, baseball, basketball. These are all activities that will get your kids moving!
Go on bike rides with your kids. This is fun for all. Weight train with your kids—see article and video here!
Kami deadlifts 155 plus full strength training routine for kids.
Healthy Family Activity Ideas
ACTIVE FAMILY FUN! Don’t just watch TV, have a dance party! I do it, I look silly doing it, and so can you! Kids love it.
SPORT! I recommend ALL kids participate in at least one organized sport. this teaches them leadership and learning skills as well.
Cook Together: This will teach them healthy food options and the value of whole, natural foods.
Just MOVE with your kids and they will be healthy, happy and will perform better in school! And it is QUALITY TIME!
The solution begins with YOU. Let’s fight this epidemic now and the battle begins in our own homes. Because having healthy, active and productive kids, that’s not a game!