Childhood Obesity – It's the Parent's Fault
“Childhood Obesity has more than doubled, and tripled among adolescents, over the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (Karnik and Kanekar). When parents and adults hear the phrase childhood obesity, they automatically start blaming the fast food restaurants because of their high calorie menus, high trans fat options, and their crazy low prices. Documentaries like “Super Size Me” have brain washed adults’ minds that connects Mcdonalds and fast food restaurants with making the American population fat. A majority of those films were produced in the early 2000s and they changed a lot of people’s minds when they thought about where they wanted to go out to eat for lunch. This decreased the number of customers of those restaurants drastically on a daily basis, closing hundreds of locations which forced the corporations to change.
Corporations like McDonalds completely revamped their menus hoping that the change would start slowly bringing business back. McDonalds dropped their “Super Size” option so that customers were limited to the average small, medium, and large meals. Also, outrageously unhealthy items were dropped from the menu like the McDonalds popular breakfast item, the “McGriddle.” The public wanted a healthier choice, so the fast food corporations added multiple types of wraps and salads so there would always be a healthy option. Fast food restaurants were a big problem in the past, then who is the culprit today for the constantly extraordinarily high numbers of obese children in America? Parents quit pointing your fingers at fast food restaurants, turn that finger around, and point it at yourself. Nearly 20% of American children are obese and it’s because of their parents (“Combating Childhood Obesity”).
In a very few situations their child’s obesity is out of the parent’s control, but a majority of the time it’s due to the cause of laziness and neglect of the parents. One of the contributing factors of childhood obesity is when a child grows up with a poor family life. Studies have shown that when a child grows up in a life of poverty, they have a 38% greater chance of being obese than those who grow up in an average income home (Karnik and Kanekar). With the low monthly income, the families are forced to buy cheaper groceries which usually entails an amount of higher trans fat and higher sugar quantities. Poverty is the only factor that the parents can’t really control by themselves, while there are an essential amount of situations that the parents can control, but overlooks to see them as a problem.
Families in the 21st century seem to be losing more and more rules in the home to which children are going out of control because of the lack of discipline the parents are enforcing. When there is this lack of rules in a home, the child is more likely to do whatever they want, which includes watch TV, play video games, and eat all day. Children in the 21st century look at food as pleasure more than the energy that they will need; which makes them eat more of the wrong kind of calories thus gaining weight (“Childhood Obesity Facts”). In a majority of the families in the US, parents let their kids watch TV for as long as they want without restrictions on what they watch. Also teens have doubled their video game playing time over the past three years (Wanjek). All these cause kids to be more and more lazy and forcing their body to gain weight because of the lack of physical activity at home.
Studies have shown that families with set times for when they eat their meals, that the children of that home has a lower average weight than children who’s families eat meals at random times of the day (Paxton). When children aren’t used to eating at certain times, their body can trick them by thinking that they are hungry just because you ate at that time the previous day. This cause kids to start snacking, which isn’t a bad thing, but the kind of snacking that the children of the 21st century do is unhealthy (Karnik and Kanekar). When a child is or becoming obese, there are consequences in the present and in the future of their lives. Children who are obese have a very low self esteem which makes them look down on themselves because of their poor body image.
“Teens are two times more likely to get bullied when they are obese” (“Obesity in Children and Teens”). When kids get bullied, that can lead to self harm like cutting or even suicide. Many diseases come from obesity in children which affects them in the early stages of their life. The top diseases that come with obesity are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, back pain, skin infections, ulcers, and gallstones (“Combating Childhood Obesity”). These diseases cause over 300,000 deaths a year in the United States (“Combating Childhood Obesity”).
Physical problems follow up with the diseases like sleep apnea and loss of breath for no legitimate reason. Continuing being overweight into adulthood from when they were a child gives you a higher chance of being diagnosed with many types of cancer on top with all of the diseases that you could receive as a child over time. The cancer types that are commonly found in obese patients include cancer types of breast, colon, endometrial, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate cancer. Also being overweight for years and years on end creates a higher chance of receiving myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (“Childhood Obesity Facts”). Your body is under continuous strain already with all of the excess weight obese people have, adding cancer or these types of disease on top of that is just asking for an early funeral.
People who have been obese for a long period of time in their life will also have bone and joint health problems which can put them out of work at times. When people are put out of work for their physical health, they lose a majority if not all motivation to get back into the workforce. The majority of people who do re-enter the workforce they apply for low income and low physical activity jobs which just makes them lose even more motivation. “21% of the obese adults in the United States receive unemployment” (Paxson). When about a fifth of the United States adults are receiving unemployment, which circles back to the previous problem of children growing up through poverty. Michelle Obama, the First Lady, has recognized childhood obesity as a problem in the United States and enforced many new rules for our school’s breakfast and lunch systems.
She made sure that schools were giving out the correct sized portions for the children’s age groups which she also believed would reflect on how much the students eat at home. She made it mandatory for each school to have a salad/fruit and veggie bar available to the students. She also changed the meals to have whole grain breads and less sodium and fat in the entrees. (“Healthy Schools”). Schools all over the nation are slowly meeting all of the standards that our First Lady has set and we are seeing results. Since 2012, schools have recorded that “students who were overweight began to lose some of that excess weight and regain their confidence in class” after their school changed their menus (“Combating Childhood Obesity”).
Children spend a majority of their time at school, so changing up the lunches isn’t the only way that schools can help their student lose weight or at least control the epidemic. There are schools in the United States that are realizing that childhood obesity is a problem, so on top of the changes at lunch, they are also raising the amounts of Physical Education credits students are required to take before they can graduate. There are lots of ways to avoid taking all of the required credits right now at hundreds of schools right now, including our school as well. If students play sports, that can add up into an additional P.E. credit which people use to their advantage so they don’t have to take a gym class.
Studies have shown that the students who take all of the required credits in gym, or even more than the required amount, the students on average are 12.5 pounds lighter than the students who use their sports to add into their P.E. credits (“Childhood Obesity Facts”). Schools need to raise the amounts of P.E.
credits students need to receive to graduate so that they will have to have at least one gym class a year. The rest of the time that children have away from school is mainly at home, which is where most of the problems are, so what resolutions can happen at the child’s home. Healthy snacks are more expensive when compared to the more sugary option so parents are obligated to buy un-healthy snacks for the house. At home kids feel more free to be themselves and aren’t afraid to eat whatever they want to, so that leads to snacking. Snacking is okay, but it needs to be controlled which is when the parents need to step in, which isn’t happening as often as it needs to. Parents need to step up and buy more vegetables and fruit for snacks at home even if they are more expensive than buying a package of Oreos.
Parents, you can’t be selfish either when you are trying to get your child to be healthier; you have to be healthy with them. “When the parents are practicing a healthy lifestyle with their children, they are 38% percent more likely to lose weight together than when only one or the other is going by themselves” (Wanjek). Parents have to eat healthy with them so that the children don’t get jealous and can mirror your actions knowing that they aren’t the only ones changing. Have an active home life for your child as well. Don’t make it weird to go out for a jog, go hiking, or go to the gym. When kids get into a routine of just sitting on the couch all day, that’s all they will want to do.
If you start going to the gym or other active things on a regular basis with your child early in their life, then they won’t think it’s weird to go out and do that by themselves later in life (Wanjek). When kids have an active home life, they have a better chance to stay at the correct BMI, body mass index, for their age and height (Paxson). Adding onto having an active home life, parents need to limit their child’s TV viewing and video game playing times. On average, kids ages 8-18 are in front of a screen for over 5 hours a day (Karnik and Kanekar). Parents need to cut that time down to about half of that so that kids will have more time to do their homework or sleep.
Also parents can buy video games that will keep their kids active like games on the Wii like Wii Sports or Wii Play or games on Xbox Kinect like Just Dance or Kinect Sports. These games a fun for the whole family and it will keep your kids active. Studies have also shown that when there are set times at home for when meals are made and when kids can have a snack, they are on average lighter than kids who just eat at random times (“Combating Childhood Obesity”). When you eat at certain times, your body gets used to eating at those times so you don’t get hungry until its getting close to them. When you eat at random times your body doesn’t know when it is supposed to eat so you are almost hungry all the time which leads to unnecessary snacking.
The United States is recognizing the childhood obesity epidemic and the government is doing things to help the cause. With all of the obese children being hospitalized, on medications, and/or having surgeries to keep them alive and healthy, it is costing their families millions of dollars a year. “The Annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion” (“Obesity in Children and Teens”). Michelle Obama has done a lot by changing the school’s lunches to much healthier options and setting goals for schools to add salad/veggie bars to help. Schools are also raising their required P.E.
classes forcing kids to take at least one gym class a year. Parents need to control their child’s life in and out of the house. Who takes their kids to fast food restaurants? Who buys un-healthy food to fill the shelves at home? Who lets their kids sit on the couch and watch TV and play video games all day? Who is to blame when a kid thinks it’s weird to go outside and go on a jog or go workout? The parents of America are to blame for childhood obesity. Works Cited “Childhood Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Web. 10 July, 2013. “Combating Childhood Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 3 Sep, 2013.
“Healthy Schools.”Let’s Move. Web. Nov 2013. Karnik, Sameera and Kanekar, Amar.
“Childhood Obesity: A Global Public Health Crisis.” Medknow Publications, Print. 2012. “Obesity in Children and Teens.” American Academy of Child and Adolescents Psychiatry. Web.
Mar 2011. Paxson, Christina, Donahue, Elisabeth, Orleans, C. Tracy, and Girsso, Jeanne Ann. “Why Should We Care about Childhood Obesity?” Childhood Obesity. Volume 16 Number 1. Print.
1 Nov 2006. Wanjek, Christopher. “Preventing Childhood Obesity: How to Help Kids Shed Weight By Changing Home Routines.” Huffington Post. Print. 9 Sep 2013.