Childhood Obesity

According to the CDC, childhood obesity affects 17% of children and adolescents in the U.S., triple the number from a generation ago. I blame video games myself; and parents that let their kids sit in front of them all day. A generation ago was when I was a kid we ran outside all day long rather than being stuck in front of a screen killing zombies or whatever they are playing. So, I’m sure there will be a lot of detractors from that statement, but that’s just how I feel and it seems obvious to me.

Eating frequentlyWell surprise, surprise. The CDC states that childhood obesity is caused from kids eating too much and not getting enough exercise, seems like my video game theory on the subject may have some credibility after all. Another factor is that sugar filled drinks and snacks are more common today than they used to be, and with vending machines at school kids can grab a bad snack anytime they want.

Often times when given the choice between a healthy lunch or a sweet snack and a soft drink, kids will take the sweets and sodas over the good food. And fast food on the go for the busy family today isn’t helping matters either. Greasy, calorie laden burgers and fries topped off with a half gallon (okay, maybe a quart) of their favorite super sweet bubbly beverage is only making matters worse.

overweightOften a fast food combo will have more calories than the daily caloric limit, and that”s just one meal. Sweets at school, a fast food on the go meal and then another meal at home can add up to two or three times the daily caloric needs of a kid and they just aren”t getting enough exercise to burn off the calories. This adds up to excess fat and eventually obesity.

Obesity as a child typically leads to obesity as an adult and adult obesity leads to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, which increases the risk of heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina, and abnormal heart rhythm and hypertension. It also causes liver, lung, heart and musculoskeletal complications and increase the risk of stroke. Obese children may also suffer psychological issues as well that may stem from the verbal and sometimes even physical abuse at the hands of their peers.

childhood obesityObesity may also lead to thyroid disease, reproductive hormonal disorders, and even infertility. Obesity may also cause endocrine and metabolic disorders, kidney disease or failure, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and irregular menstrual cycles in women. If all this doesn”t convince you to get the kids off the couch and outside to run and play I don’t know what will.

The evidence is clear that proper diet and exercise leads to better health. Sure, it”s difficult to manage work and family and keep track of what the kids are doing every minute but one way to make sure they are doing the right thing is to lead by example.

Heredity plays a large role in childhood obesity just as much as the environment does. Persons with the propensity to “larger size” may need to work harder at it than persons of slight stature to maintain a healthy weight but the evidence is clear that the benefits are worth the effort.


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