It is no secret that we are getting increasingly obese. Perhaps most worrying, however, is that our children are suffering as well. The Trust for American’s Health released a report to show that some 25 million children in our country, aged between 6 and 17, are now overweight or obese. This is absolutely frightening, and it is perhaps even worse that our children are now mere statistics.
The Statistics and What Can Be Done
Parents don’t seem to realize how serious childhood obesity is. Children don’t simply ‘outgrow’ obesity. Rather, the fat cells they develop during their childhood will become increasingly difficult to get rid of. This is shown, for instance, in the increase of parents looking for bariatric procedures for children.
Children who are obese are it with various health complications, both physical and mental. They suffer from low self-esteem, they are bullied, they have poor social skills. Health problems now affecting children, including type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and cancer, were previously unheard of in this population group.
Why Obesity Is Such a Big Problem
Obesity is known to be the main cause of type 2 diabetes. It is also associated with low HDL cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, psychosocial disability, degenerative joint disease and huperlipidemia. Children now suffer from depression and poor body image as well. Most worryingly is that they have a shorter life expectancy as well.
If a child is obese, they have a 70% chance of being an obese adult as well. This means that their entire life is impacted by it. Plus, children face the same health risks as what adults do. Their blood pressure is up, as is their heart rate. Of course, bullying and teasing is an added difficulty that children have to deal with. High cholesterol levels are common, as is poor school attendance, which could indicate poor academic performance later in life.
What Can Be Done?
Parents must take the power back, not just of their children but of themselves again. Obesity in children is a learned behavior – they become obese because their parents are, and/or because their parents don’t teach them the proper lifestyle behaviors. Children will eat what they are given or, if they are told to get their own food, they will choose fast food. Fast food is marketing specifically at children, after all.
Not just that, children watch their parents come in to the house, sit down on the sofa, and no longer move. They will do exactly the same. But we, as parents, have the power to change this. We can choose to get rid of the highly processed ready meals. We can choose to turn off the internet and switch off the TV. We can be encouraged to once again have fun with our children, as a family, by going outside and playing some games. These things are needed if we are to protect the next generation.