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.
Many kids are so over scheduled as they race from school to clubs, activities, teams, etc. They need to eat and often they’re given high sugar, highly processed snack foods and drinks that are easy to travel with and they can eat in the car. In an effort to save time as well, many parents go through the drive thru to pick up their children’s meals going from one activity to the next.
Some kids are extremely sedentary. A major portion of their diets consists of unhealthy food/drinks and they’re spending hours in front of a TV or computer screen vs. being outside and active. This combination of poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for poor health and obesity.
Food choices: it’s no mistake that high sugar, highly processed, nutrient poor foods are placed at kid’s eye level on the supermarket shelves. When they’re shopping with a parent, it’s easy for them to grab these items and throw them into the shopping cart. If they beg and plead enough, mom often gives in. (I’m certainly not judging and have fallen victim to this many times myself)
Advertisements: kids are bombarded with brightly colored, fun and engaging ads and commercials to try the latest cereal, snack, dessert and drink. These “sub-foods” may even boast a few added nutrients yet don’t mention that the item has been so depleted of value, it’s doing nothing to support growth, health or nourishment.
Lack of role models: unfortunately, many kids lack healthy role models. So many parents are overburdened with responsibilities, tasks and commitments that they simply don’t have the time, energy or motivation left for their own self care. As a result, they’re unfit, overweight, overwhelmed and unhappy and unfortunately pass this on to their kids.
Portion sizes: We’re “super-sizing”, “economy sizing” and “value mealing” as we think we’re getting so much more for our money. The price for that “value”? Larger waistlines, poor health and a lower self image and self esteem as we become increasingly unfit, overweight and unhealthy.
Children need to eat real, whole, nutrient dense food. To encourage this, get them involved because they’re more likely to support what they help to create. According to their ages and stages, have them help create a shopping list, menus, prepare meals, pack their snacks, cook and even plant a simple garden with vegetables they’re willing to try. It also helps to create interesting ways toprepare healthy food which may encourage kids to try them.
Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach® – President of Lifestyle Fitness, Inc. and Founder of the Mojo Coach