Parents are slowly recognizing the immense danger this epidemic poses as more and more children are affected by weight-related illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, high cholesterol, hypertension, and other heart-related diseases.
Now that childhood obesity has gained recognition as a health issue, medical professionals have turned their attention towards identifying its causes. They have identified two primary catalysts: improper diet and sedentary lifestyle. Children are eating more and more junk food and less and less healthy food, such as apples and salad. Many parents do not actively supervise their children’s diets, and so kids are eating only what tastes good to them – salty fried snacks and sugary, fattening sweets.
Kids are also exercising less, choosing activities in front of the computer or television instead of playing outside with their peers. Video games, computer games, television, and internet chat programs are the primary entertainment sources of today’s youth, rather than the sports, bicycling, and hopscotch of the past.
This is partially due to lack of parental encouragement of outdoor play for children, and partially due to the failure of our school systems to emphasize the importance of strenuous physical activity. There are many ways that parents can address obesity in the home. Monitoring your child’s diet is one of the best solutions, but often working parents are unable to be present at all or even most of your child’s meals.
After school, kids return to the home and consume the food stocked in your kitchen and your refrigerator. By keeping your larder stocked with healthy choices, such as fresh fruit, unsweetened juices, and whole grain breads, you can prevent your child from reaching for potato chips, bacon, or fatty processed food.
If your child doesn’t have unhealthy food choices commonly available, he or she will develop the habit of maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet, and will be less likely to develop weight problems.
Whenever possible, encourage your child to play outside. Monitor the amount of time he or she spends on the computer and in front of the television; if possible, put time-locks on his or her electronics so that your child will be forced to only spend a healthy amount of time engaging in sedentary activities.
Send your child to play games without his or her cell phone, so that the temptation to stand or sit and text will be removed. Even a busy working parent can and should fight childhood obesity by reducing the availability of unhealthy foods and activities to a child.