As many of my regular viewers to this web blog know, there are many factors contributing to childhood obesity. I post daily here about it, whether news print articles, opinions, feedback, or just personal opinion.
Recently, I wrote an article for Yahoo! (click here) about childhood obesity. I started searching for sources for this article, and received over 100 responses to the question, “What do you think caused the rise in childhood obesity?” Responses came from professional and Olympic athletes, fitness experts, health experts, nutritionist, and parents.
I was unable to use everyone’s feedback, but thought it would be great to post some of their responses on my blog in a new web series, “What Causes Childhood Obesity.” I hope that you enjoy the opinions here from various individuals. Please remember, my including their posts does not necessarily mean I agree or endorse their opinion, rather, a place to share other people’s thoughts.
Opinion: Dana El Gammal
Childhood obesity is on the rise as a result of the decisions forced upon, or made for them, by the adults who touch their lives. Everyone from parents to policy makers create a difficult environment for children to create, and maintain, healthy lifestyle habits. Although this might be a bit hard to swallow as adults, and it certainly doesn’t pertain to the small percentage of children whose obesity is related to a clinical issue, we can’t ignore the fact that we are failing our future generations by not protecting their most important asset, their health.
For example, our young children are not the ones doing the grocery shopping, picking up fast food for dinner, buying the dvds/video games, deciding what will be served for lunch at school/packing their lunches, deciding how much activity they get during the school day and at home, or making the decisions about what is available in vending machines. Taking it a step further, it is the adults in business and government who decide what goes into the processed food our children eat, the price and accessibility of healthy food options (both for the underprivileged and for those just trying to get by in the current state of the economy), what is promoted and targeted towards our children in the media, as well as how we deal with situations like food deserts, lack of education, and lack of support/resources in regards to health and wellness.
Government-mandated health education for all adults with dependents would have the greatest impact on reversing the trend of childhood obesity. These programs could be delivered either through their insurance coverage (whether that be commercial coverage or government programs such as medicare) or through school programming. As adults WE need to better prepare our children for their future. Studies have shown that the probability of childhood overweight persisting into adulthood increases from approximately 20% at 4 years of age, to between 40% and 80% by adolescence. This proves it is imperative that we start our children off on the right foot. And while the solution is multifaceted with many different resource components, we have to make our children’s health, as well as our own, a top priority, and set our children up for success from the very beginning. It is our responsibility to provide them with the necessary resources and knowledge to make the healthiest choices possible.
Dana El Gammal, Founder and CEO of InspireHealth, creator of The 7 Habits of Healthy People®, and Founder of Neighborhoods InspireHealth, the non-profit subsidiary of InspireHealth.