Friday, May 21, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Childhood Obesity

U.S. Obesity Rate Rising. Nearly four out of 10 adults in the USA will be obese within five years if people keep packing on pounds at the current rate ...

In the last 30 years the number of children who are overweight has tripled to 15%. When you add the overweight and obese statistics together, the problem becomes crystal clear. One-third of the nation's children are carrying too much weight.

Why has obesity become such a problem in the US? Blame has been pointed at things like a more sedentary life-style, too many computer games and tv watching, fast food, and just generally over eating.

1. Have our children become more sedentary? The answer is yes, the reason many faceted. "Pick up" games, that is games like baseball, basketball and soccer, that would be played informally in a neighborhood are almost non-existent. The reason is simple, with so many households now having all adults working, children are told to come straight home from school and into the home. A drive through most neighborhoods between the hours of 3pm to 6pm will show streets devoid of children.

Has the world become more filled with child predators these days, or is there just better coverage? Statistics seem to say that a child is more likely to be hurt by someone they already know, for example Sandra Cantu was murdered by Melissa Huckaby, the mother of a little girl she played with. Caylee Anthony allegedly murdered by her mother Casey.
And yet for every Casey Anthony and Melissa Huchaby, there is a Phil Garrido (who allegedly kidnapped 11 year old Jaycee Duggard and kept her as a sex slave for 18 years) and John Couey who kidnapped and buried alive Jessica Marie Lunsford. The Duggard kidnapping was a matter of random opportunity, the Lunsford kidnapping was by an unknown neighbor who pinpointed his victim, and then made the opportunity.

Then there was the case of Somer Thompson who was kidnapped while walking home from school. No wonder parents aren't willing to have their kids playing outside when they aren't home.

After school programs are available, but often they are too expensive to be utilized. Or the hours they are offered leave a gap of time from when the program ends until the time the parent can pick up the child from school.

Some possible solutions for the stay at home child is the Wii Fitness programs that are a lot of fun, keep the child active and are not very expensive. Check Ebay and Amazon for some great deals. If you have a basement, having the child skip rope for a few minutes at a time gives exercise, as does climbing the stairs. Exercise inside the home is possible, you just have to be creative.

2. Convenience Foods - Let's face it, we're in a rat race like no other time in memorable history. We have more chores to do than hours in the day, and bringing home a fast food meal takes the pressure off of the age old question "what's for dinner?" It is also calorie rich, nutrition weak and a super blow to the family budget.

3. Convenience snacks - When our kids want a snack, the easiest thing to do is give them a snack sized bag of chips, a cereal bar, an ice cream treat, or cookies. Instant gratification, no work, nice and sweet. Also little nutrition, lots of calories and not too nice to the budget.

4. Convenience Dinner Prep foods - who doesn't have a few cans of cream soup, a box of Hamburger Helper, Minute Rice and other throw it together quick dinner foods in their pantry? But a quick look at the label shows a ton of fat, little nutrition, lots of salt, and even in some cases, corn syrup. About the only thing you can say for these foods are they don't really assault the budget that badly.

5. Loneliness - Often children at home after school while their parents are still at work get a feeling of loneliness. As with adults, children will seek out comfort food. Often a few calls throughout the time they are home alone, can help to alleviate this loneliness. You probably already have your child calling you when he gets home. Try calling at the halfway point, and then again when you are leaving work. Do not only call when you need the child to do a chore around the house.

6. Drinks - Most the world doesn't have enough water, but in the USA water is the least favorite of drinks. Sometimes it's the chlorine in the district water, other times, it's just because the American pallet is accustomed to the sweetness of soda/pop or juice. Make sure your child has enough milk to drink. Try to reduce soda/pop drinking to a minimum or only a treat a few times a week. For juice, realize that drinking juice is not the same as eating fruit. Try gradually diluting the juice so that it is not as calorie and sugar loaded.

7. School lunches - are getting better. But to be sure of your child's calorie intake, and for quality control, it's better to send your child to school with a lunch and snack that you provide. Pita bread stuffed with lettuce and leftover chicken with a bit of mayonnaise, or better, salad dressing. Fruit. Cheese. Yogurt. All great choices.

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Lily said...

I also think many children would rather control exercise via a gaming character rather than physically exercise their own selves. Kids will often sit together and play their hand held devices and call that a social activity. :(

Mary Bennett said...

Well it is a social activity, actually. What it isn't is an ACTIVE social activity. :D

Lily said...

Really? I guess so, but it is a sad commentary on today's children then. Seems to me that a social activity ought to have more interaction and less side by side independent game playing. Even if they sat side by side and played solitaire they would be more social because they would chat while playing their individual card games. But with the hand helds they need to concentrate or 'die' therefore the conversation is really limited. Don't you think?


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