Childhood Obesity – The Modern Health Dilemma

You see it on the playgrounds, at roller rinks, at swimming pools as well as in classrooms. Weight problems are a modern health and fitness issue for today's children, who will be struggling with weight like never before. This is a difficult issue to resist, given the fact that you want to make sure that your children are getting sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals in their diets. While some children may outgrow obesity, others carry it along into their adult lives. Weight problems in children can lead to feelings of fatigue, worthlessness, and hopelessness. It can also place them at higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Precisely how widespread is the problem? The National Institutes of Health has identified that, over the last 30 years, the number of young people with weight problems has increased two fold. Interestingly enough, the problem is influencing children of every age as well as children from all ethnic groups.

Children that are overweight may not develop socially as fast as their peers. They can become loners, finding hard to make friends. They may believe how much they weigh is beyond their control and they might not know what to do in order to make an effort to prevent weight gain. In essence, obese children can become our lost generation.

The parents of these children may well not realize how negative obesity is to their children's emotional well-being. They may find the obesity just a passing phase and they may not comprehend the psychological devastation that obesity can cause. They will often even write off the concerns of their children, wishing that the problem will simply disappear.

The causes of childhood obesity can be complex. However, there do appear to be a few identifiable triggers. For example, many households now eat on the run as a result of their many obligations. Parents may not think they have time to prepare nourishing meals for their children, so they rely on junk food and sugary snacks to fill in the gaps. Consequently, children end up eating a diet that's rich in body fat and sugar but which offers little in the way of nutritional value. According to the American Obesity Association, one third of parents believe their children's dietary habits are worse than theirs were during their very own childhoods.

Another key problem is inactivity. Children watch more than a full day's worth of television per week. That's in addition to the hours they devote to their computers. Consequently, they're not playing outside as much as children of generations past. Also, many children may feel as if they can't participate in sports because of their weight. Feeling conquered before they even start, they avoid opportunities to engage in physical activities.

It has been shown that children are usually heavily influenced by advertising. Unfortunately, many commercials tout foods that can be best classified as unhealthy. Children crave what they see on TV and in movie theaters and so they may not realize what these foods do to their bodies.

Luckily, childhood obesity can be effectively conquered. Here are a few guidelines to help your son or daughter conquer a weight problem:

o Encourage your son or daughter to take part in sports or dance. If your son or daughter is insecure about being a part of a team, exercise with him or her. Take out a ball and shoot a few hoops or turn on the stereo and begin to dance. You may very impressed that, with just a little encouragement, your child will get up and start moving.

o Consider limiting Television time. Research clearly shows that TV time is unproductive period for children and teens. If your children spend less time watching TV, they may invest more time exercising.

o Ban junk food from your home. With a little push, children will become familiar with maintaining a healthy diet snacks such as vegetables and fruits.

o Check with your child's pediatrician to determine if he or she can recommend some specific weight control strategies.

Childhood obesity is a problem, but it is not insurmountable. The greater the interest you show in your child's diet and exercise regimen, the more influence you will have over your child. In time, your child can learn the strategies required for a wholesome life.

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