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.
One of the reasons that I think childhood obesity is on the rise is that children, for the most part, do not bike or walk to school anymore. When I was a child, almost everyone walked or rode to school. My son is in kindergarten this year. We have gone by bike almost every morning, with the exception of when it was raining. The majority of students arrive by car with a good chunk arriving by bus as well (parents can pay to have their kids bused, if they do not live in the outlying area or near a hazard that prevents walking/biking). I live in Orland Park, a suburb of Chicago, but my community is definitely not unique. In 2001, only 16 percent of kids biked or walked to school as opposed to 42 percent in 1969, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Having children ride or walk to school is a way that children would be incorporating physical activity into their day. We generally spend about 30 minutes a day on the bike. When we ride, we are also a lot more likely to stop at one of the area parks on our way home, which then gives my son even more physical activity. Through my work with the League of Illinois Bicyclists, I wrote an article on biking to school last fall, in honor of International Walk to School Day. Feel free to quote the article as well or contact me for any additional information.
Gina Kenny, Program Manager, League of Illinois Bicyclists