Open your window on a sunny day and what do you hear? The chirping of singing birds? The yelling and laughter of playing children? Today, chances are you will hear the birds outside, but not a lot of children. Today, children are spending more and more time in front of the television, computer and video screens. The affect of increased “screen” time has been a decrease in the physical activity and an increase in body weight. The outcome? Obesity in kids is now epidemic in the United States.
One in five children today is considered obese. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight adults. Obese children now have diseases like type 2 diabetes that used to only occur in adults. These are the sad facts of childhood obesity. But perhaps even more devastating than the health problems is the social discrimination. Children who are teased a lot can develop low self-esteem and depression.
While there are many causes and contributing factors to childhood obesity, the main culprits are the same as those for adult obesity: eating too much and moving around too little. This is why parent involvement is critical. You may not be overweight, but are you a good role model? DO you spend hours a day in front of your computer? Do you avoid exercise? Remember, children form habits from their parents, and usually maintain them into adulthood.
Answer these two questions to help see if you may be part of the problem instead of part of the solution:
- When was the lasdt time you took your children to rent a video or DVD?
- When was the last time you asked your children to go for a walk or bike ride with you?
Children know if they are overweight. They do not need you to remind them or to tell them what to do. They do need you to support them and show them what to do. So the next time you get the urge to open the window and listen to the sounds of summer, why not open the door and go outside with your kids and play?