Along with the increase of obesity in adults, childhood obesity is on the rise. Around 15.5 percent of adolescents in the United States, aged 12 to 19 are obese. Even more alarming, about 15.3 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are obese. 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.
Todays children make up the digital generation. They’ve been surrounded by computers their entire life and are not as physically active as children of past generations were. Instead of going outside and playing, they tend to hang out indoors, watching TV and playing computer and video games. 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.
It is 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 other healthy activities. 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. 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.