As a Parent : Be an ExampleThe US Surgeon General has stated that obese and overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of carrying the problem into adulthood. If that's not bad enough, the statistics go up to 80% if one or both of the parents is obese. From this statistic, we can see that it is vital for parents to be a role model of a lean body.
In another study, by author Peter Koppelman, obese parents have an 80% chance to raise an obese child. In contrast, lean parents have a 10% chance of raising an obese child. Again, parents need to be the example of how to live.
Child Obesity and Overweight Rates
Government studies quoted by National Public Radio state that around 32% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. About half of these (15%) are obese. Many scientists thing that child weight problems are under reported and that the rates are actually much higher.
The trend has risen dramatically from the early 1970s until around 2003. Currently the trend is holding steady. It is important to look at contributing causes.
The Surgeon General Speaks Out!
Breastfed infants grow into adults that have lower fat percentages. Scientists think that it may be that during feeding the foremilk is high in protein and fat and that the hindmilk is a more watered down version that naturally helps the appetite be controlled. Dr. Joan Meek, of the United States Breastfeeding Committee, stated the following, “both the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding must be considered. The duration of breastfeeding has been shown to be inversely related to overweight—meaning that the longer the duration of breastfeeding, the lower the odds of overweight. And although further research is needed, exclusive breastfeeing appears to have a stronger protective effect than breastfeeding combined with formula feeding.”
Breastfeeding is also known to protect against sudden infant death, allergys, promotes higher IQ, and offers many other benefits besides protecting from obesity.
This ABC News video shows the problems of childhood obesity.
Do you ever get up with your child to watch Saturday morning cartoons? You will find that a lot of the ads are for junk foods. In fact, research shows that children shows get more food ads than other types of marketing. In the child marketing study Food for Thought, they found that 50% of ads during children programs were for food. In the same study, they found that Tweens see around 20 food ads per day and that 34% of these ads were for candy or junk snacks.
To follow that up, in a study by the University of Liverpool, they found that when children watched a television show with ads that obese children would consume 134% calories above normal and that non obese children would consume 84% calories above normal.
The marketing is very effective. Even pre-schoolers identify strongly with the golden arches (Mcdonalds). In one study, authored by Dr. Tom Robinson
of Stanford University, scientists showed that children preferred Mcdonalds wrapped foods over identical foods without the wrappers. Even carrots and milk of identical quality taste better when wrapped in Mcdonalds attire. This study shows how effective corporations are at luring children into their stores.
A good video showing an example of food marketing.An example of a junk food ads in junk mail.
Sedentary Life – Tv, Computers, and Texting
Children tend to watch television several hours per day. They might also spend a lot of time texting or surfing the web. These are all sedentary activities that lead to weight gain.
In response to this problem, the US Surgeon General recommends that no more than two hours (per day) are to be used to watch television. He also recommends that eating should not be part of television watching. Children tend to eat more calories when eating and watching television at the same time.
A study by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that over four hours of television viewing per day would increase the chance of being overweight or obese by 21.5%.
In the international Journal of Obesity, links to obesity were made with having a television in the bedroom. Children will obviously spend more time watching television with one in the bedroom. Studies have also shown that children with televisions in their room will get, on average, one hour less of sleep per night. This is important because lack of sleep is known as a predictor of obesity. Children that get less sleep at night are less likely to eat breakfast; as well. It is probably because they are too tired to get up in the morning. Skipping breakfast is also strongly associated with obesity (source: University of Minnesota). About one third of adolescents skip breakfast and about ten percent of elementary children skip breakfast. These children are at risk. They are more likely to overeat later in the day when good food choices aren't available. Or, children that skip breakfast may come from a different home environment. Researchers aren't sure why the link exists.
Research shows that limiting television, computer, and texting activity will give children a much better chance to be lean.
Eating at HomeA Harvard University study called Growing Up Today studied over fourteen thousand people. One of the outcomes of the study, was that people that ate together as a family were less likely to be obese. Children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when eating with parents. And, since children that eat alone will often be in front of the television and since eating in front of the television is associated with increased caloric consumption it totally makes sense that eating together reduces obesity.
Having meals as a family is also a great predictor of success at school, it also lowers probability of drug use, tobacco use, and almost every other unholy and impure practice.
It is possible to have a weight problem due to a disease like hypothyroidism or Cushing's syndrome. You should note that medical reasons for obesity are quite rare (less than 2%).
If you are eating properly, keeping a food journal, exercising daily, and still can't lose weight then you may wish to talk to your doctor for some testing. Too often, people make up a disease in their mind without even getting a doctors diagnosis. This type of thinking is really a way to avoid the responsibility of body composition. People are reluctant to believe that they have a problem they should fix.
Obesity definitely has a genetic component. There are rare diseases that adolescents can get that make them become overweight. For example, Prader-Willi Syndrome or Momo syndrome contribute to obesity.
Do you give your child something sweet to eat every day? If you do, you are setting them up for obesity. Like adults, children should eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid fast food, soda, and anything that tastes sweet. Many studies show soda, sugar, and fast food as some of the main obesity drivers for children.
The University of Missouri showed that obese children have neck arteries that are thirty years older than their age. That means that a 13 year old would actually have the neck artery of a 43 year old. Hardening of the arteries is already setting in and some of these children have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Should we put them on statins? I think we should have them change their lifestyle.
The health community is also finding out that many children are getting type 2 diabetes, more cancer, more heart disease, and sleeping problems. Nobody really knows the full extent, but the outcome doesn't look good. We need to reverse the trend.
Fat kids are teased, left out, and socially isolated. Imagine how fun it is to play recess by yourself and then get picked on in class. Over time, the rates, for the overweight and obese, of depression and anxiety mount. Children find that it is very difficult to cope with life and tend to have a hard time succeeding. There are many stereotypes of overweight and obese people. Fat people are thought of as dumb, socially inept, lazy, and worthless. Fat people are avoided by others. The effects are real and should be dealt with. That is why it is so important to help your child stay lean.
Bad Examples versus Good Examples
It is amazing how parents help cause obesity without realizing it.