Childhood Obesity and How Parents Contribute

Childhood obesity can be a really touchy subject, especially for those who are guilty contributors. I have witnessed both parents and strangers downright humiliate and look down on these children as if the child was the one to blame. In reality, the only thing the child should be at fault for is retaining these bad habits not only in their household but in public as well. Even then, it is not entirely the child’s fault. While kids are growing, their brains act like a sponge and absorb any kind of information society has to offer whether it be good or bad. In this case, it’s bad.

Obesity on it’s own is a danger, but when you add a child into the mix, the affects can be worse. Seriously health conditions may start to make an appearance and these conditions can be temporary or lifelong. We as a nation need to band together and put a stop to this. These children are still growing so a healthy lifestyle is crucial for their development.

The first thing I would like to go over, is diet. A healthy diet will lessen the chance of our children getting chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. A healthy diet will also make the child feel better and enjoy life to the fullest. 1 out of every 5 children suffer from childhood obesity. Children these days are being fed fast food way to often. Fast food is filled with high sugar contents, salt, saturated fats, trans fats, processed ingredients and absolutely loaded with calories. There is barely any room for any nutrients. One McDonalds cheeseburger has 313 calories while the fries have 378 calories. A child between the ages of 4 and 8 years of age are recommended to have between 1200 and 1400 calories per day.

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Only having a burger and fries make up a little over half of the recommended calories and that is with the drink not included. I know being a hardworking parent is draining. You work these long hours and just don’t want to deal with the hassle of cooking when you get home so you stop and grab fast food not thinking anything of the dangers and risks that come with it for your child. I’ve been there and I am guilty of it too. There are many healthy options that can be quite time saving. In the five to ten minutes it takes you at a fast food drive through, a veggie stir fry could have been whipped up or veggies could have been steamed. The stir fry has actually become a favorite in my household for those nights we don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking because of a long day at work.

My next point goes hand in hand with the first and that would be exercise. This is something I see many kids struggle with these days. Kids are spending hours in front of television screens, phone screens and video games. I know it is easy to lose track of time, I do it all the time. A rule we recently started in our household are time limits. For every hour you spend on your devices, the same amount needs to be used for exercising or just being active and doing productive things. There are ways you can even make exercise fun without them feeling pushed towards it. If a child is offered to play a game with a parent or guardian, more times than not the child will be excited and it gives them something to look forward to.

We like to do freeze tag. This is good for both summer and winter exercise. Except being from Wisconsin, freeze tag means something completely different in the winter. Snowball and water balloon fights are always fun as well. Not only are the children getting exercise, but they are making fun core memories as well.

In addition to, family factors also play a huge role in child obesity. Both parental and family stress greatly influence how a child feels emotionally. Think of how a magnet sticks to other magnetic objects. Well, this is kind of the same with stress. Stress sticks to people like a magnet and drains them of their energy, so when parents or family members are dealing with stress and the child is around it, it finds that new energy to attach to until it has no one left to devour leaving you feeling depressed and defeated. Children have no idea how to cope with stress and depression so they resort to overeating. This also happens to adults and the overeating is often taken to far on both the child and the adults side.

In order to keep this from happening, we need to help our children cope. Ways we can do this would include: Letting them vent to you, breathing techniques, writing about it and going to have some fun. These are all proven methods to help children cope with stress and stop overeating. Practicing a healthy home life is so important for our children’s development.

Now, psychological factors play a roll in this as well. This is related to my previous section on family factors. Mental health, negative thoughts and low self worth are all psychological factors that can lead to anxiety and depression. When depression takes over ones mind, food often becomes your best freind. How many of us have ever gotten into a depressed state and ate an entire tub of ice cream? I know I have. Food acts as a filler when we are feeling empty inside. Anxiety acts the same but in the opposite direction. Instead of feeling lifeless and empty, the feeling is intense and excessive worry or fear of everyday situations. The heart beats faster, the mind races and breathing becomes rapid. When dealing with anxiety, the cortisol levels in ones body will increase and cause fat to build up in the stomach directly resulting in weight gain. The more anxiety and stress one has, the more weight is put on linking together stress, anxiety and obesity.

Lastly, we have socioeconomic factors. Recent studies claim that children with a low socioeconomic status are more prone to having poor health, a shortened life expectancy and suffer chronic conditions such as obesity. Low (SES) is one of the top causes for stress on children and their families. They don’t have access to all of the healthy food options children need to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

As our cost of living rises, the situation gets worse for these families already struggling to survive. A box of Mac n Cheese is cheaper than ingredients for a salad. Because of this, some families have no choice but to choose the unhealthy option. While not being able to afford the healthy options might not be the parents fault, there are plenty of resources available to help. Don’t be embarrassed as the resources are there for a reason. At some point and time most people in the world have all had low socioeconomic status so there is no room nor reason to judge. With this information, let’s all do what we can to fight childhood obesity.

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By Amber Pennau

Hi there! I am a 30 year old female from the mid west. I love writing as it has always been a passion of mine. I one day hope to become a professional writer. I have 3 kids and a dog who is basically like my child as well. He sure acts like it :D I got invited into this site a week ago, and I absolutely love it.

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