Childhood obesity is on the rise with 30% of kids either overweight or obese. Even worse, many of these kids are getting diagnosed with diseases once only seen in adults – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?
Causes of childhood weight gain
Excess weight gain doesn’t just happen for no reason. The causes are the usual suspects – too large portions, poor food choices, liquid calories, and too much screen time (tv, computer, and video games).
With regards to food choices, have you ever read the kids menu at a restaurant? The food choices seem to be a constant across the board – hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, quesadillas, pizza, chicken fingers, corn dogs, french fries, soda, and lemonade. And let’s not forget the ice cream or hot fudge sundae at the end of the meal. Do you notice a pattern? What kids are being offered is just white, refined bread products, high fat meats and cheese, and sugar to wash it all down. why does the restaurant industry have to “dumb down” to kids? Who says that kids won’t eat a piece of grilled chicken, salad, and fresh fruit. If you serve it, they will eat it.
The media assault
It’s no wonder that kids gravitate toward unhealthy food – they’re being bombarded by images of it wherever they turn. TV commercials, ads on the computer, magazine ads, and their favorite TV characters are all “selling” these kid-friendly, waist expanding, unhealthy food items. Have you ever sat down to watch TV with your kids and actually watched the commercials that air during their favorite shows? What you will see is commercial after commercial for sugary cereal (“made with whole grains” some even claim), fast food, and sugar-filled beverages masquerading as “juice.” It’s horrible! And it’s no surprise that the naive and gullible underage audience buys into it.
Start a revolution!
Parents, we challenge you to take back your kids! Don’t give into the kids menu! Stop buying “kid-friendly” cereal, snacks, and drinks when you go shopping. Feed them what you feed yourself – clean, whole, real food. Lots of fresh, seasonal, and organic fruits and vegetables. Plenty of lean and clean protein, like fish, beans, and turkey. Healthy fats like nuts, avocado, and seeds. Wash it all down with water and green or herbal tea. Eat together as a family. There’s plenty of research that shows that kids who eat dinner with their families have a lower rate of obesity.
While you’re at it, turn off that TV and gaming system and get outside and play with your kids! Shoot some hoop. Go for a bike ride. Take a walk or hike. Play tag. Have some fun with your kids and everyone will benefit.