Would you like to super-size that meal for an extra $0.79? That is a question that too many Americans face each day, while continuing to kill themselves and their family by responding to the question with, yes. Children do not understand the complexities of food intake and the negative aspects poor choices make on their bodies, yet they continue to be affected by this issue. They tend to consume energy-dense and processed foods usually high in starches, added sugars, and added fats. Rates of childhood obesity have increased more than triple the amount in the last 30 years. Parents may live busy lifestyles, but they can’t afford to neglect their child of proper nutrition education necessary to grow. Another issue that is a strong risk factor to this epidemic is right at home, where often awaits a television or video games. This is where children will park themselves in front of the TV and not move for hours, proven to decrease activity levels and influence unhealthy diet. This time needs to be restricted to a minimum, otherwise they will continue to increase the likelihood of life threatening issues.
The combination of consuming high-fat foods with the lack of physical activity creates a path to some serious health problems. It may increase blood pressure because by having more body mass, your heart needs to pump that much harder to supply blood to all of your cells. One of the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart can become narrow and hard, causing you to become more susceptible for heart diseases. Having more fat stored around the neck may cause for a smaller airway, leading to inflammation where breathing could stop for short periods of time. Obesity may cause the cells to change and become resistant to the hormone insulin. This results in blood sugar not being able to be taken up by the cells, developing high blood sugar where cells work extra hard to keep it at a normal level. The consequences are due to different malfunctions of the human body, and the risks for these conditions increase as weight increases.
While there are many causes of childhood obesity, most are preventable. Sedentary behaviors are an opportunity and choice for children. Physical activity needs to be positive and conducted in a way that encourages enjoyment and fun for them, ultimately aiding in permanent weight loss. There are a wide variety of programs that include: soccer, spinning, basketball, football, swim aerobics, volleyball, baseball/softball, dance or cheer. By expanding the child’s active opportunity, participation will likely increase and continue into adult years. Parents need to take responsibility of putting a variety of balanced whole foods in the kitchen, therefore the child will not have a chance to choose cookies or chips as a snack. Recommendations by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services emphasized that this does not mean cut out junk food completely, but limit the intake to portions of moderation for the best diet plan. The key ingredient is for parents to be positive role models that share acceptance, support, and encouragement to their children throughout fighting the war against obesity. If the current trends continue, today’s kids will be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.