Child Obesity – Part III

In the first two articles, we looked at the causes of childhood obesity, contributing factors like ethnicity, geography, and culture.  We identified community and school programs that are geared to build healthier lifestyle and diet programs for kids.   The ultimate game changer is parents and family members teaching and delivering diet and activity programs.

It goes without saying that the modern diet is a huge part of the childhood obesity problem in the United States. Convenience foods have taken over the shelves at grocery stores, corner stores, gas stations, and school vending machines. And while these pre-packed, overly-processed food-like products are certainly appealing to children, they are anything but nutritious.

They are loaded with sugar, fat, sodium, and artificial flavorings and colorings. An astonishing 83% of American families eat snacks or meals from fast-food restaurants at least once a week.  Fast foods chains deliver high caloric, low nutrition food.  While it’s convenient, it’s not healthy and it contributes to the overall obesity problem.

How much of an influence does physical activity have on childhood obesity rates? It has a huge impact.  Eating high caloric, high fat food and not “working it off” through activity creates a storage of fat in the body. 

Gone are the days when kids would run outside to play all day.  Along with that is the fact that many kids do not come home to a home-cooked meal.  Today, only 30% of children play outside each day and 20% of kids play outside once per week or less.

Generally speaking, most kids are either watching tv, gaming, or are connecting on social media.  That sedentary lifestyle contributes to obesity.  What people don’t think about is the fact that sedentary a life style is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Physical activity has a huge impact on both body mass index (BMI), as measured by triceps skinfold thickness, and the increasing number of children considered overweight and obese in this country.   Many sedentary behaviors, especially tv viewing, playing video games, and scrolling through social media, have been proven to be highly addictive.  It can be a battle for parents to get kids off of their devices and out doing healthier activities like hiking, biking, skateboarding, and swimming. Things like placing limits on screen time, scheduling activities together that are both fun and active for the entire family, having them in participate in sports and getting them outside to play sets their behavior for a healthy life.