Childhood Obesity: A Troubling Problem With A Treatable Solution

Jorg Mardian By Jorg Mardian, 13th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Exercise & Fitness

Let's talk frankly about a subject causing a great deal of concern with health professionals today, namely childhood obesity. According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of Canadian children and adolescents who are overweight or obese has climbed from 15% in 1979, to 26% in 2004.

The Obesity Problem

Let's talk frankly about a subject causing a great deal of concern with health professionals today, namely childhood obesity. According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of Canadian children and adolescents who are overweight or obese has climbed from 15% in 1979, to 26% in 2004. That's a whopping 70% increase. The problem is particularly notable among 12- to 17-year-olds, where the combined overweight/obesity proportion more than doubled from 14% to 29%.

Even more startling is that parents are failing to recognize the problem states a 2003 study in Obesity Research, especially so if the parents themselves are overweight or obese. This likely stems from not being cognizant of their own weight difficulties, not knowing what to do about the problem, or a lack of willpower.

Whatever the cause, the probability of having an obese child rises from 10% if both parents are normal weight, to 40% if one parent is obese, to 80% if both parents are obese. That's why a 2009 UK study suggested the best strategy for dealing with childhood obesity may be in treating the parents themselves. It simply makes sense that if parents struggle, children will also have difficulties.

Some researchers rightly believe it's much easier to prevent weight problems than to treat the effect, which is why the process must start at the earliest age. The risk of becoming overweight has roots established in habits of infancy, which can become entrenched by the time the child begins kindergarten.

So if as studies point out many parents don't understand their children are overweight, how can they possibly teach them to eat right? They are responsible for what goes into their children's mouth, starting with breast milk. But even at this stage, sweetened formula is often substituted unnecessarily, leading to sweetened baby cereal, sweetened mashed foods and eventually sweetened solid foods.

By and large, much of it comes down to not being insistent enough over a child's pleading for what tastes good, rather than what is healthy. So somewhere around the time the child becomes a toddler, things have gone horribly wrong.

The habits of parents also rub off on the child - monkey see, monkey do. So when parents have poor eating habits, skip breakfast, snack throughout the evening and shun physical activity, it's not surprising to see their children do the same. Help them to recognize and love healthy foods. Without instilled habits early in life, it is much harder to stop the junk attack when the teen years hit. Yes, we can remove the vending machines from schools, but the convenience store or fast food restaurant is only two blocks down the road in most locations.

We have to spend time with our children, which may mean (gasp) prying their fingers off the video game console and getting them into the kitchen to recognize that food and sugar are a bad mix. It may also mean ignoring wailing protests and kicking them outdoors into the sunshine for some running and jumping around, or expending energy in extra-curricular activities.

Not many parents can stand the thought of just standing by and watching their kids suffer, but they will if the above scenario is not played out. The scary part is that studies show even young, obese children can exhibit signs of inflammation linked to heart disease in adults. Others indicate our children could die before we as parents do.

Listen, change takes time! To develop a new habit, it takes at least three weeks of consistent practice. Healthy eating and regular exercise can also become habit and regular occurrences with your family. It just takes time and diligence.

The most precious thing is being a healthy role model to your children. We can't individually change the direction the world is going, but we can change how our children function and make healthy choices for the entirety of their life. That, is a huge responsibility. Let's face up to it.

Tags

Children, Disease, Exercise And Weight Loss, Obese Children, Obesity, Treatable Solution, Troubling Problem

Meet the author

author avatar Jorg Mardian
http://mardianinmotion.com
I am a Certified Fitness Trainer, Kinesiology Specialist, Myoskeletal Therapist and Registered Nutritionist. My writing will focus on nutrition, fitness and pain therapy.

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