Yesterday my wife and I took a little Family Fun Day at Hawaiian Falls. It was a great time to play and have fun with our little “water bug.” Clara is about as active as any child at 3 years of age should be. She likes to run, jump, dance, twirl and show off. Normal stuff for sure.
The day also allowed us to do some people watching. Now before I start in on this let me make one thing clear. These are observations, not judgements. If you think any of the information I present is in a mean, critical nature then you don’t know me. I hope only to inform, inspire and change the community I live in. So without further ado, let me tell you that…
KIDS ARE GETTING BIG!
I don’t mean- cute and chubby baby fat that they’ll outgrow once they hit a growth spurt. I’m talking full on MAN-BELLY ON 6 YEAR-OLD BOYS and THUNDER THIGHS & HIPS ON “LITTLE” GIRLS.
Does anyone really care about these kids? Is anyone thinking about the long-term health consequences of an obese toddler? Obviously not.
I’ve heard the excuse that, “Oh his dad is a big guy, so that’s where he gets it from.” or “Being big just runs in the family.” Nope. The child is big because he’s eating the same things as dad- maybe worse. And the family? Ditto.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%. (1,2)
- Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
- Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
WHO’S IN CHARGE?
We can’t blame the kids. Sure they want the junk food and will make a lot of noise if they don’t get it. But it’s not like a majority of parents are eating their share of fruits and vegetables. Much less instilling values of healthy eating to their kids. That’s a problem.
The kids are watching what you do.
They won’t die from lack of sugar.
They don’t buy the groceries.
Our responsibility as role models includes modeling good values, behaviors, nutrition and exercise. GULP! A tall order for sure but well worth it to ensure the health and well-being of the next generation.
- Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. JAMA 2010;303(3):242–9.
- National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2004 with Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans [pdf 3.8M]. Hyattsville, MD; 2004.