The Childhood Obesity Epidemic

stop obesity

Currently, approximately one in three kids and teens in the United States is overweight or obese (that’s THREE TIMES the amount found thirty years ago)  In today’s society, children are being diagnosed with chronic diseases which we use to associate with aging (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol,  etc). Overweight and obese children not only suffer from these debilitating diseases, but they are also more susceptible to poor body image, self esteem issues, and even depression (If i remember correctly, kids can be quite the brutal bullies during those middle school years).

childhood obesity

While there have been some strides in improving the school-wellness atmosphere, studies show that kids who eat lunch at school are more unhealthy and have a lower academic performance than those who do not.

Here are some scary statistics related to childhood obesity:

  • The avg. dollar amount allocated for food cost per school lunch nationwide is barely $1 and 25 cents of that is spent on milk.
  • The beef and poultry used in schools are held to lower standards than the standards used in fast-food chains like McDonald’s.
  • Many schools no longer have access to free drinking water.
  • The average American child eats less than one serving of fruit a day and anywhere from 30 to 160 pounds of sugar per year.
  • 12% of American kids already have Type 2 Diabetes. The CDC predicts that 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 will develop Type 2 Diabetes.
  • 1 in 4 children take prescription medication daily for a chronic illness.
  • The majority of the calories  in the avg child’s diet come from sodas, sweets, salty snacks, and fast food.

apple slice

It seems that as funding shortages continue to occur, the most important areas are being undermined. Food and physical education funding has been one of the first things to go.  Luckily, in the past few years more and more healthy school initiatives are showing up in our districts. But, in my opinion these so called “healthy foods” that are now being served are nothing more than a processed couterpart. How hard would it be to have fresh local ingredients show up in all of our schools?

Here are some tips that you as a parent can use to steer clear of the childhood obesity epidemic:

  •  WATER!  Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with WATER.
  • 5210.  Advocate the 5210 goal mentioned in my previous post. (Daily goal: 5 fruits/veggies, Limit screen time to 2 hours, 1 hour physical activity,   0 sugar sweetened beverages)
  •  Fruits and veggies! The more fruits and veggies you can get your child to eat, the better! Substituting unhealthy breakfast foods and snacks with a green smoothie is a great start! Also, making fresh veg/fruit juices works wonders…Try making Spinach-Orange juice or Carrot-Apple.
  • Re-vamp your pantry.  If you are eating optimally then your refrigerator (NOT your pantry) will hold the majority of your foods (Fruits, vegetables, maybe organic meats, etc)  Throwing out the processed foods in your pantry will prevent your child from snacking on chips, cookies, etc.
  •  Be a role model.  For the most part, kids look up to you as parents and want to mimic your actions. Thus, eating healthy and exercising will help encourage your child to do the same.
  •  Eat slowly.  Teach your child to eat slowly and thoroughly chew their food.  This will help them realize when they are truly full and not overeat.
  • Reinforce.   Sometimes kids reject new foods, but if you continue to introduce these foods they are more likely to try them.  Also, presenting them in creative ways will help.  Make a creative snack using fruits and vegetables or create a fun healthy cooking class for them to get involved.
  • Never reward you child with food.  This is never a good idea.  This causes them to expect foods anytime they do something good and may also lead to cravings of these foods as adults
  • Moderation is key.  You do not want to completely restrict bad foods from your kids as it will most likely cause them to want them more. (Everyone wants what they can’t have) So, moderation. moderation. moderation!
  • Increase physical activity.  When I was a kid, we would be outside playing until our parents forced us to come inside. Unfortunately, today kids seem to be plastered to their video games, TVs, and computers.  Encourage your child to get outside and play. At least 60 minutes of physical activity each day is clutch.
  • Make it fun!  Think of creative ways to encourage your child to eat healthy and exercise.  You do not want to scold them on the topic.  Just encourage and educate them on why adopting these habits will benefit their life overall. Pedometers are also a fun way for your child to keep up with how many steps they walk in a day. Make it a game where each child strives to get 12,000-15,000 steps in a day.
  • Education. Providing your kids with the knowledge and skill set necessary for them to make their own positive choices is vital. I think if I had known the truth about what I was putting in my body at a young age, I would’ve made much wiser food choices.  You want to trust that your child has the ability to fend for themselves in a world bombarded with junk food and unnatural ingredients!
  • Get involved.  Help initiate school wellness programs at your child’s school and demand changes for more healthy foods.

healthy kid

If these ads don’t get the point across, I don’t know what does:

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20 Comments

Filed under Health, Tips/Tricks, Weight loss

20 responses to “The Childhood Obesity Epidemic

  1. Reblogged this on Gr8ful Bugger and commented:
    I know we hear about child obesity a lot these days… it’s just plain wrong and not fair for the children. Here’s a great post explaining it in more detail with some great tips on how to be a role model for your children and how to help them be more healthy.

  2. Reblogged this on Gr8ful Bugger and commented:
    I know we hear about child obesity a lot these days… it’s just plain wrong and not fair for the children. Here’s a great post explaining it in more detail with some great tips on how to be a role model for your children and how to help them be more healthy.

  3. As a former obese child I wish I had this knowledge back then. My elementary school served pizza every day.

  4. This is great advice (which I just shared on Facebook and twitter). I am on a mission to make my family healthier. I am on the right path for myself, but getting my kids on this path is much harder. That said, I am happy to say that much of the advice you list above, I’m doing with my kids. So thanks for the encouragement.

  5. I started gaining weight in middle school and by the time I graduated from high school I was 253 lbs. I always knew that I needed to make changes, but as a child I had no clue where to start. There seems to be sense of comfort in many families and communities about obesity in general and I think communication about the issue is where we have to start. Maybe it’s just denial. The documentary, The Weight of the Nation, is also a good resource if is anyone is interested……………Healthy Journey!

  6. As an obese child, this article is very important to me. Although I never ate school lunches, I appreciate the list provided for parents. I wish my upbringing had included those things.

  7. Excellent post! My children (14 and 10) have been vegan from birth so they’re accustomed to fresh fruit and vegetables, roughage, whole grains, and water. Their friends used to consider them oddballs because they were “skinny” (read: not overweight like the children who indulged in fast foods). Eventually, my children offered their friends some of the foods I packed: fresh blueberry muffins, homemade breads, “cheese steaks” (made from seitan with mushrooms, peppers, and onions…some of the children even told their parents they wanted to be vegan for a week at a time, here and there. We’ve found that exposure to healthier options that look and taste great are key to weaning people off the unhealthy alternatives. It works. We had a babysitter lose maybe fifty pounds (and be free from arthritis and other pains) over a few months when she reduced her obesity diet and embraced a healthier diet with salads, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, plant-based protein, and water.

  8. Awesome health tips for kids that adults should also keep in mind 🙂 , thank you!

  9. A lot of what you say in this post is true, I would also add that a lot of kids hate vegetables because they never tried them. A bowl of fruits or vegetables can be a healthy snack in between meals. My sister used to put bowls of several veggies for her kids to snack on in the afternoon. This is what my husband and I try to do for his kids. You would be surprised how they munch on them. I could not agree with you more about the schools and how bad the food is there. Even in one of the videos the “memory” of the teacher giving the kid a lollipop as a reward, they did that at my step-kids’ school. Although they are trying more now and they introduced a salad bar to the mix.
    Thanks for stopping by on Taste-Buds and for liking my post. Keep up the good work.

  10. Samantha, this is an excellent article, well done! It’s so frustrating when we know obesity can be stopped with some practical and simple implimentation but no one seems to be listening or caring about real health!! Unfortunately, the future generation will be paying out for all the increased healthcare costs that we are storing up today. Thanks for putting all this info out there. Real change must come from within – I pray others will come to their senses sooner than later.

  11. It’s horrific! Soda should be outlawed! In my opinion it’s the number ONE factor in obesity. These kids drink soda, juice, Gatorade all day… On top of all the fast food and junk food they eat! The government wants to control health care… If they would set regulations on fast food places… I say make that unaffordable instead of insurance. Health care would get better if so many people were killing themselves with what they put in their body!

    • I completely agree, soda is a HUGE contributor! It continues to baffle me that coke and pepsi promote a “healthy product” In my opinion, diet coke is even worse!

  12. Pernisha G.

    Thanks for sharing. I was blown away by the information provided. I am baffled and almost cried. All of this harms children; all for money!

  13. Amanda! I love all of this. Are you a nutritionist or dietitian? Are you simply passionate about all of this? Follow me…I would be so honored to have you as one of my first followers. It is so encouraging to have people out there fighting the good fight…

  14. Wow powerful videos. And great post. I live in the UK and it’s not quite so severe a problem here but it’s definitely becoming more of a concern. I’m passionate about healthy living and believe prospective parents should have to pass a test before having children. In fact several tests…!

  15. The Stop the Cycle video is fantastic, very evocative and powerful. Thank you for sharing!

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