There are simple factors in every parent’s control that can reduce the chance of childhood obesity. In society today, approximately one in five children will be labeled as obese. Obesity is defined as an excess amount of body fat, measured as a percentage of total body weight. A child is considered obese when their body weight is 20% higher than the average weight of children of the same age. It is imperative that parents realize how their choices impact the chances of their children developing obesity.
The main contributing factors to childhood obesity are lack of physical activity and high calorie intake, as well as the variety of foods consumed. The recent emphasis on technology as well as convenience, high calorie meals have had a detrimental effect on child health. Furthermore, one of the worst physical effects of childhood obesity is the susceptibility to diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and early onset of heart disease.
Obesity has negative effects on emotional health as well. Society today labels those that are obese as lazy or unmotivated. These stigmas contribute to the increasing onset of depression, anxiety, and low self esteem in children. These factors then affect the social health of children as well, as there can be a lack in the development of relationships and acceptance from their peers.
In this technological age, it is easy for children to develop a lack of physical activity. Both computer usages as well as the increase in video gaming systems are the major technological factors in childhood obesity. It is easy for parents to use these as ways to keep their children busy. While there have been recent advancements in gaming that involve total body interaction, the comparison of these games to actual physical activity such as sports or dancing shows a minimal amount of calories burned. The largest impact that parents can have on these factors is managing the amount of time spent on all screens within the home, forcing children to find alternative methods of entertainment.
Parents do have control over several factors that contribute to obesity. The eating habits of children can be controlled, as parents need to resist the urge to provide the quick, convenience meals such as fast food and high-calorie, low nutritional snacks. A higher consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains may reduce the risk of obesity in children. Parents should provide healthy beverages to their children as well, such as reduced sugar juices, skim milk, and water, as opposed to high sugar liquids such as carbonated soda pops and sugar-based beverage mixes.
Parents can also provide a variety of physical activities for youngsters. A creative mind can create unique activities that require participation and motion. Some examples of such activities are outdoor play, such as games like tag or hide and seeks, and indoor play such as fort-building, balloon play, or dancing to upbeat music.