Solutions To Childhood Obesity In America

 

I think there are always times in our lives when we wish we could have a do-over. And that is how I feel right now in America. When I am out and about I can’t help but notice that there are much more obese children these days than there were when I was a child. I remember having 1 or 2 kids in middle school that was overweight. Now it seems like 50% of kids are heavier than they should be.

It worries me very much. I often think about what the future holds for these children. If they are struggling to be healthy now under their parent’s guidance, what kind of a future are we offering them? Perhaps the problem is with the parents?

I was curious if my eyes are deceiving me. Perhaps the obesity rate in American children isn’t nearly as bad as I think it is. So, to test myself, I did a Google Search for “statistics childhood obesity America”. Here’s what I learned from the CDC: “In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.”

That is freaking Crazy!

I am really scared for our children. I worry about the number of children who develop liver-disease because their livers can’t function. Or they have diabetes or will develop type two diabetes. Children should be able to move around and not be short of breath. They should be able to run and have fun.

My kids are grown, but I wish I could go back and give them better education on nutrition. But I also wish I had the knowledge that I have now. I think if I gave them a better start nutritionally, I could have set them up to be healthier adults.  I am angry that we are constantly being lied to by the media, doctors and the food industry. The commercials on tv feed our kids lies.

Now that I have the knowledge it is my obligation to pay it forward and help those who will listen. And believe me, there are many who don’t want to hear it. I also try to be an example for others. I share my knowledge as much as possible. I discuss nutrition with my kids in hopes of making them realize that some foods out there are so processed that they are not even real food. My hope is that they will carry this knowledge with them and raise healthy children of their own one day.

I am not an Expert but I think we need to find ways stop childhood obesity and we need to do it now. We can’t go back and change time. But we can still help to make a change in a child’s life and the lives of future children. Here are some of the things that I would do, If I could have a do-over.

  • Be the Example of Good Nutrition:  Perhaps I can’t change things in the past, but I get to be the example to others about what is the healthy kinds of foods to eat. And I can show people them what not to eat. Even if they learn one thing from me and pass it on, it will be making a slight change. If you are overweight or have health issues caused by bad nutrition, you need to take action and get healthy. Be the example that your kids need. Show them what you are capable of.
  • As a parent/grandparent, limit the number of processed foods you have in your child’s diet. Understand that sugar is what makes you fat, not fat. Kids should not be eating low-fat food!!! They should actually be eating less sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice and more healthy fat. And they should be eating lots of veggies and fruits. Just eat real food. Real food doesn’t have a label and it doesn’t come in a box.
  • Limit eating at fast food restaurants. I see this all the time when kids eat fast food 3 or 4 times a week for dinner. As parents, I think it is important to stop this habit. I know life is busy and it is hard to find time to cook every night. But you can make a serious effort to try to eat more real food.  Your child’s future health depends on it.
  • Encourage children to eat a colorful diet of real foods which include vegetables, fruit, dairy, and meats.
  • Limit the amount of sugar in your child’s diet. Perhaps instead of having sweets like cake and cookies in the house, instead have lots of fruit and nuts. Kids will start to want the healthier choices.
  • Pack your child’s school lunch because school lunches are ridiculous and often full of very processed foods. Don’t believe me? Ask your kids what was offered in the cafeteria today. There is a good possibility that it is processed food. I personally would rather pack my kids lunches than to trust the state or county to feed my kids.
  • Discourage snacking after dinner. Often we and our kids eat just to eat.
  • Encourage kids to play outside and be active. Kids these days don’t get as much physical exercise as we did when we were little. Playing outside in the sunshine is really important for childhood health.
  • Get Educated: If you are reading this, then you are either on your phone or computer. Use those tools to learn everything you can about health and nutrition. Here are my top 3 recommended books:

Can we solve childhood obesity? I’m not sure. But I’m sure not going to stand by and watch our kids get sicker and sicker. If I can make a tiny change I will try my best.

What about you? Are you worried about childhood obesity?