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Obesity in Children: It's a Family Problem

Currently over 65% of Americans are overweight and these overweight adult Americans are passing this epidemic on to their children. According to Center for Disease Control childhood obesity is on the rise.

Children's BMI is increasing annually and they are just getting heavier and heavier early in life. We need to begin today saving our daughters and sons before it is too late. I believe it has to be addressed within the family circle.

I refer to today's families as the fast food (McDonalds, Burger King) generation. They eat out more, eat larger portions (everything is super sized), cook at home less and eat more convenient foods versus healthy foods. Sometimes I am amazed how very young children before they can read can request McDonalds' Happy Meal and know when they pass or arrive at the restaurant. So the culture has turned into an eat-out versus eat-at-home culture. They crave the taste for the fast food in addition to looking forward to the prize inside the happy meal.

What are the consequences of living this lifestyle?
1. Children are overweight very early in life and an overweight child grows into an overweight adult.
2. Children are not very physically active, instead quite sluggish and lazy.
3. Children increase their risk factors for all major diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
4. End up on some form of medication early in life.
5. Generally unhappy children because of socialization and physical limitations.
6. This will take a toll on the health care system because more are using medical services often.

An intervention program is necessary to see a difference in the way our families live their lives. There is an old African proverb that says: "Teach a man and you teach an individual, teach a woman and you teach a nation". The entire family intervention program must be taught to the mother of the family. The mother will in turn carry out this total program.

The family plan is as follows:
  1. Put children on a healthy eating program. Note, I did not and will not recommend dieting in this segment because I don't believe in diets but rather in developing a healthy lifestyle that will introduce the child to a long lasting healthy way of living. First of all the family must learn how to cook and prepare meals at home.
    • First of all the family must first learn how to cook and prepare meals at home.
    • Secondly, they must learn how to eat right.
    • Everyone can get involved in preparing the meals and once properly taught the children can assist with cooking the meal.
  2. Include exercise in their daily routine. There are many fun things children and families can partake in to keep active. They need to be exposed to more than just structure kinesthetic or they will not stay engaged long term. Take them hiking, biking, boating, skiing, skating, etc, etc. Keep them physically active. The family just needs to play together.
  3. Get the entire family involved in some indoor and outdoor activities. It is extremely important that everyone is involved to make this a successful experience. Plus you want to teach the family how to continue this part of the plan long term.

The program can exist in the schools (95% of children are in school), or a local church, in the homes with the entire family, or in community centers i.e. Girls and Boys Club.

The media also plays a role in what children are exposed to daily. They should have some accountability but don't. There needs to be more effort to educate children and adults about eating healthy and exercising to gain a healthy life style instead of marketing fatty, high calorie foods to all who watch TV, read magazines, listen to radio, etc.

Become proactive and educate.

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