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Why Are Children Obese?

Updated on December 20, 2017
My brother and grandma
My brother and grandma
Dancing with daddy.  Exercising?
Dancing with daddy. Exercising?
Putting on the running shoes!
Putting on the running shoes!
Working Out on the monkey bars
Working Out on the monkey bars


It has been brought to my attention that my "face looks fat". Well, that was a strange and unnecessary comment that holds no credence to my actual body. Sad that a woman with curves is somehow considered fat.

Now, others will disagree with my article, and that is your prerogative, but do not take this acknowledgement to say that my words are incorrect. This is not an all-inclusive article, just a part of the 'why' on behaviors that are creating more obesity rates in children today than in the 1960's and 1970's, when I was a child.

Full Article

What makes a child obese? Is it Tony the Tiger? Did Ronald McDonald cause the problems? I wonder if it was a toy in a meal, or maybe it was that cartoon captain with the crunchberries in his box? Clearly there are items that are being eaten every day that can put on the pounds. Is it safe to blame a cartoon? Is it better to blame a tiny piece of novelty plastic?

Consider that Tony the Tiger, Captain Crunch, and Ronald McDonald were all around in the 1960’s when I was a child. I was not obese, nor were my brothers. In school, the children were not obese and my family, living in other parts of the state, was not obese. If there was an obese child in class it was typically due to a physical ailment, and not because they ate too much.

If these iconic figures are not the reason that kids are heavier than 40 years ago, why are they heavier? Technology and busy parents are likely the anti-catalysts. Catalysts are actually more defined as those things that cause something to occur. I suppose that becoming a statistic in childhood obesity is something, but it is not *doing* something, it is *NOT* doing something that is causing the problems.

Statistics compiled in 2005 regarding elementary schools show poor rating in regards to formal daily physical education for their students, ranging from 17 to 22 percent. The average is 2.4 to 2.6 days of PE through 6th grade in those schools in which 6th grade is elementary (NCES, 2005). The average number of minutes per week conducted in structured physical education ranges from 85.4 minutes to 98.0 minutes, 1st grade to 6th grade (NCES, 2005).

A majority of schools do allow for unstructured physical activity during recess, at about 87 to 93 percent. If the minutes of recess and minutes of physical education are added up, the total minute average by week is around 208 to 222 minutes (NCES, 2005). Dividing this by five days, children get 44 minutes of physical activity per day. That would seem to be adequate to help a child to maintain a healthy weight, but recess is not structured physical activity and many children do not do things while on recess, they instead sit.

Then there are video games. Those neat little inventions that may sharpen the mind of the child, may improve the reading skills of an upper-level toddler, and can enhance the ability to pay attention to details, but they are rarely helpful in physical activity. It is great that video game console inventors and developers are trying their best to help children to get up and move, but it is just as easy to sit in a chair and swing a Wii bat as it is to stand up and do it. Video games, great 24/7 children’s programming on television, and the internet are all to blame for the downfall of childhood activity.

Parent lifestyle is also a contributing factor. Parents both have to work anymore to make ends meet. Those parents would enjoy spending more time with their children in physical activities but let’s face it, they’re exhausted after working a 40 hour work week, or more, and then coming home and taking care of the house, the bills, the cooking, the cleaning, and the other responsibilities that come with growing up. Most parents would love to be able to make more time for their children and ride bikes or throw a ball around in the yard, but they just don’t have the time. With that new technology comes the 24/7 employee, too. They may have gotten into their car and driven the 45 minute commute to their house, but they still have to complete that proposal, or they are on call for some boss, or some computer problem. Economic downturns are creating tired parents.

What can we do about this epidemic? Do you think it is fair to Tony, Cap’n, and Ronald to shelf them because the kiddies are getting obese? It’s not the fault of the little toys in the “Happy Meal” because if it were, then I would have been an obese child, and I was not. Scheduling video game and computer time, providing a safe place for children to play, and improved economy will help children to maintain healthy weight. Physical activity during school hours will establish good beginning habits. And mom and dad, if you can afford it, get your kid a bike. That is a fun way to get around and to get a little exercise. Don’t beat yourselves up; you’ve been given a hard pill to swallow. However, there are ways to help your child now while he or she still has the metabolism of a young person. Just do whatever you can, maybe make them do jumping jacks while reciting multiplication tables, or their ABC’s, depending on the age of the child. Get them to play games to keep their bodies as well as their minds sharp. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I’m confident you can do it!


NCES (2011). Calories in, calories out: Food and exercise in public elementary schools, 2005. IES National Center for Education Statistics, retrieved from


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