Of all the factors that are hazardous to children’s health, obesity is one that jumps to the front of the line. There is one issue that is most out of control. Look around the campus and you’ll see that the physical layout of kids as a group has changed since you were in school. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the obesity rate among children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the past 25 years, going from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 17 percent in 2006. Among adolescents aged 12 19, that ratio has more than tripled, from 5 percent to 17.6 percent. These numbers say nothing about the children who are not yet obese, but are clearly overweight. No other health concern is that the burst of such mind-numbing rates.
Why Rising Obesity Rates Are So Big Deal
The media has done a good job of making us aware of the risk related to obesity. To quickly recap: The Journal of Pediatrics recently found that approximately 61 percent of obese young people have at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. US Surgeon adds that children who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-image. These children are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and are therefore at greater risk of associated adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis.
Yes, obesity is a big deal.
How Did Our Kids get so overweight?
There is no doubt that a diet loaded with non-nutritious, high-calorie foods are at the root of children overweight. However, the amount of daily calories consumed by our children has not increased so dramatically in the last 20 years to cause this double and triple rates. What has changed is the amount of daily activity. This has dropped significantly over the last 20 years can be true culprit in this explosive health concern.
The National Institute of Health just released the results of a long-term study of more than 800 children. At 9 years old, the researchers tracked the participants daily activity levels with accelerometer (a device that records movement, which the children wore on a belt). They evaluate their movements to see if the children achieved the minimum 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity recommended for children from the US Department of Health and Human Services. They conducted the follow-up measurement of these same children aged 11, 12 and 15.
How would children go to such a test? They get at least 60 minutes of exercise during the day? If your daily habits mirror those of the kids in this study, they probably do – if they are aged 9 to 11 – when 90 percent of participating children met the recommended level. But after 15 years, only 31 percent met the recommended level on weekdays, and a shockingly low 17 percent met the recommended level on weekends. This drop in activity means that teenagers are taking in more calories every day than they are put through a motion. It is a recipe for excessive weight gain.
This fall in activity of our youth is largely due to the new electronic age in which we live. Unlike children in past generations, our children can socialize, play, and explore their world without even getting out of bed. While munching on high-calorie snack, many spend their free time to enjoy digital social networking, video games, DVDs and iPods. It’s a new world.
The role of government in this National Health problems
The government agencies responsible for the welfare of our children are aware of and deeply involved in this crisis. The CDC, for example, has guidelines, resources, applications and websites for schools and community leaders to help them to address the growing obesity problem. You can visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity~~HEAD=pobj for links to articles such as the role of schools to tackle obesity and exercise :. School and Community Guidelines
As a person who has dedicated his life to helping kids get fit and healthy, I’m all for any help the government offer. I would love to see local fund more bike and pedestrian paths so families can get around without a car. I am pleased when schools are our children healthy lunch alternatives. And I certainly want all schools to provide more physical education and recreation time. These solutions will require money, as well as changes in policy and philosophy-obstacles that will take time to overcome. We can not afford to wait for the government to implement programs to help control weight of our children. My hope to stop the childhood obesity epidemic lies in home-your home.
What parents can do in Home
You do not have to hire a personal trainer, paying for a gym membership or waiting for school your child to “do something” to fight back against the obesity epidemic. You simply need to make an effort to get kids out and moving. Why not start today by selecting one of the following activities starters and like Nike says, just do it
Household work: Give the children daily exercise and get those chores done at the same time. Every kid can help vacuum, sweep, mow, and scrub around the house, and can also help to wash the car, walk the dog and put on the table
Gifts :. Looking for holiday or birthday gift that keeps on giving? Head to sporting goods part of your favorite store and looking Fun Ways to Get physical. Think: Pogo Stick, stilts, indoor or outdoor croquet, Hula Hoop, Frisbee, Twister, Hopscotch, badminton set, and a fishing pole. And of course, pick up staples such as basketball, soccer ball, and / or football; bike, skate, tennis racquet, and lacrosse or field hockey stick
family outings :. Family time is declining in American homes today as parents spend more time at work and the children spend much of their free time plugged into electronic entertainment system. Get the gang together and combat obesity with a family outing to get any moving weekends (time, remember when the activity level of kids’ tendency to fall). What are your plans for this coming weekend? Why not include any work such as visiting a zoo or a public park, walking around near a tourist attraction, or explore the nature trails (National Wildlife Federation has a site on http://www.greenhour.org to to help you find a natural place within 15 minutes from home)
Vacations :. When you plan the next family vacation, think about making it an active one. Search for places where kids can swim at the beach or bike on scenic trail. Maybe they want to walk or camp in the mountains or a raft down the river. You may also explore the state and national parks or take a stroll through the big city. There are many ways you can use vacation time to get kids up and moving
Social Services :. Many parents have found that taking part in the service is the perfect way to keep the family together and active while working toward a common goal. Search for opportunities where you could plant flowers and shrubs around public buildings or parks, making litter patrol the surrounding roads or in local streams, helping elderly neighbors mow or rake their meter, or clean up City Park. Possibilities of service to others are endless, and many involve the movement of
Plug in :. In the “if you can not beat ’em, join’ em ‘category, there are ways to use electronic activities to help kids stay active. Give the children a video camera and encourage them to make their own music videos, their own reality show them , their own “dancing with my friends” TV Special, or own nature trail travelogue them – something that gets them up and moving! Nintendo Wii Sports lets kids “play” tennis, baseball, golf, bowling and boxing during simulated physical features swing racket , bat or club, rolling the ball down the alley; or pull the left jab. The video sensation Guitar Hero also gets kids up and moving and they “stick.” At the very least, try to rent a DVD or video games from a store within a mile of your home . Get kids into the habit of walking, skating, or biking there and back (with you at their side if they are too young to go it alone).
take it to the next step
These activities can keep a child active and fit, but if the child is already struggling with weight gain, it may be time for more proactive measures. Many children need social support, and organized programs and professional advice to change the habits that sabotage weight loss efforts. When that’s the case, you may want to consider weight loss camp. Many camps (like my own) offer state-of-the-art facilities to get kids up and moving and a number of fun activities and opportunities for new friendships and a renewed self-esteem. These camps teach kids to understand why they are heavier and how they can change. Even in extreme cases, when the kids get away from the comforts of home and learn about nutrition, exercise and behavior habits and combine the knowledge with mandatory healthy diet and active lifestyle, they will succeed. They will lose weight and they will keep it off.
You have the ability and responsibility to keep kids healthy and fit. Let us all stand up and do it!