Some Effects and Causes of Childhood Obesity and Ideas for Help
The Effects On Our Children
Yes we can look at the causes of childhood obesity, the facts, the incredible increase in statistics, or maybe we should just look at the effects on our children and how we all can help.
When we think of the effects obesity has on our children we tend to automatically think of the physical aspects such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, heart and breathing disorders, joint problems, etc.
What we don’t think about is that childhood obesity is the #1 health care crisis in children of the U.S. today. You were probably thinking more in the lines of drugs, car accidents, cancer, smoking, alcohol, but it’s not, it is obesity. The fact is that if it continues our children will have a life span much shorter than ours. That is a very sad statistic, and one that should make everybody take a look at what they can do to help.
Even with that being said, I think the issue runs much deeper than that. When it comes to the emotional torture, self esteem issues, attempted and completed suicides, cruelty and bullying that overweight children are subject to and endure, it is very easy to see the most devastating effect of all.
If you would just watch a brief portion of this video, you will realize that even though the government at all levels is aware of this epidemic, parents, teachers, and doctors, executing a cure is a more difficult task than any of us could have comprehended. If you watch the portion of Mathew Shumira’s (a middle school student in Hawaii) video you will see that even the students are aware of the problem, but are not given the needed resources to try and stop it. It’s in the beginning and is a credit to students everywhere who are trying to help and take a stand.
What We Already Know
We are all aware of the cut backs in physical education in schools, parks and recreations, and the limited availably to all students, not just the ones that can afford the gyms, bikes, skates, etc. The availability of public schools athletic equipment and fields after school is limited due to everything from limited supervision, and getting home after hours when they ride the bus. The meals served at schools are in most cases a far cry from what is needed for a child trying to lose weight, or just eat healthy. Just take a look at a few of the menus I pulled up. Is it there fault? No, they have been subject to enormous budget cuts and have to provide meals which sometimes only cost the student a dollar, so that every child can eat.
It seems like a double edged sword. To be able to provide everyone with healthy choices whether it be in schools or at home is apparently a battle we just can’t seem to win.
Healthy foods are more expensive and often take more time to prepare if you consider the alternative as the drive-thru at McDonalds, or any another fast food chain. Dollar menus are popping up everywhere whether it be due to the economy or for whatever reason, the choices are usually of burgers, fries, and sodas. It gives parents a sometimes much needed break from going home and cooking a healthy meal that would often cost them more to prepare than the drive thru.
A Little Better
So What Are the Alternatives?
Well, if I had that answer I would be calling for a meeting with the president myself. What I do have is a couple of suggestions that could work not only at home, but schools as well. When your finished please let me know what you think, or if you have other suggestions so that everyone can take the opportunity to try and help. Sometimes just a simple suggestion can make a world of difference. Well, here we go:
1) Have the schools plant a garden or build a greenhouse. They can teach children the advantages of growing their own fruits and vegetables, not only from the point of a healthier life style, but how it can save them money as well. The children can learn other valuable lessons such as what fruits and vegetables grow better in their geographical climate and what time of year to plant them. The ability to grow the ones that aren’t in season in a green house or even indoors, ( a huge advantage if you live in the city). They could help with the planting, harvesting, and even canning, freezing, or preserving so they are available year round. You could even have each class grow a different vegetable or fruit and have a contest. This not only teaches them the ability to be thrifty, it allows them to get outside and gain a sense of responsibility in caring for the plants. It would also give the school the ability to serve fresh fruits and vegetables at an extremely low cost. I bought packets of seeds at Wal Mart a few weeks ago for $ .20 (20 cents) a packet with an abundance of seeds in each of everything from lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupe, etc.
#2) Give the ability to those in economical hardships a chance to do the same. Think about it, if you could purchase seeds, or tomato plants with food stamps aren’t we as the saying goes, “Teaching a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime, Give him a fish, feed him for a day”. This would also make more money available for other healthy choices once they begin enjoying the “Fruits of their labor”. If the children were taught about all the different benefits of growing their own produce in school, they could in turn help teach their parents. This would be beneficial in so many different ways I can’t even begin to tell you. There can be one night set aside for cooking and preparing meals that can be frozen and reheated for quick dinners, lunches, or snacks. Here are a couple of other benefits:
a) Spending quality family time on a project that is beneficial to all. It gives the entire family a sense of accomplishment and that they are all contributing to the household.
b) Children, and adults start becoming involved in activities that are not in front of a screen, (tv, computers, videos), etc or on the phone. This will help increase their metabolism and help the family as a whole start living healthier life styles, which will carry on for generations to come.
c) It helps the environment by planting trees, and learning the different options of living green.
d) People could actually start a block garden, or have different families grow different produce and then share for a nice variety.
And then of course there is the biggest reason of all which is eating better and becoming more active to maintain their weight and help against the fight in obesity I could go on, but you get the idea.
Give Them What They Need
Children need to learn how to grow and cook their own meals, and should start learning at an early age the benefits of doing both.
I think these ideas would benefit in numerous aspects of their life, which would have a direct effect on their weight as well as their self esteem.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think or if you have other ideas