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Childhood Obesity - Who's to Blame?

April 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 203

The phrase "childhood obesity" is one you cannot escape in this day and age. You read about it in the newspaper, hear about it on television, and see it when you leave your house, or maybe you even see it inside your home. Childhood obesity has become such an epidemic in our country that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past thirty years. So what has changed that much from 1980 to now that would cause such a change? What or who is instigating this horrific turn of events? The answer to that is subjective, but there are many contributing factors worth discussing.

The prevalence of fast food restaurants over the past few decades is something that should not be overlooked. But what makes them so appealing to consumers? It's simple-the food tastes good, it's fast to get, they are conveniently located, and most importantly they are cheap. Most interestingly enough is the amount of advertisement for children that these companies are producing. Children are seeing the commercials, wanting the toys that come in the children's meal, wanting to play in the playhouses. Everything about these companies is alluring to children.

Whether or not you believe the previous statement to be true or not, children are not driving themselves to these restaurants and buying the food with their own money. For the most part, what children eat is decided by the parents. If a child grows up in a household where healthy food is encouraged and enjoyed by all, that child is more likely to stay with a healthier diet when he or she gets older. However, in this time, where parents might not be home to cook dinner every night, or may be laid off from their jobs, cooking three square meals a day may not be an option; whereas thirty years ago, parents might have had more time to do that.

Parents are not entirely to blame; children who are in school have the option of buying lunch and maybe even breakfast at their schools, but is what they are buying really healthy for them? By law, schools must have at least one vegetable option for students at lunch time, and do you know what Congress recently passed as a vegetable for school lunches? Pizza. Forget the fact that tomatoes are fruits, but commercial tomato sauce has enough sugar in it to classify it as a dessert. If pizza is considered the student's vegetable, then are the french fries and ice cream considered their second vegetable and dairy for the day?

But remember this, childhood obesity is not only a product of unhealthy eating habits, but a sedentary lifestyle is also a major contributor. Children are not getting outside and playing as much as they used to. This is obvious by just driving through a neighborhood on a nice day and seeing empty streets. But why are children staying inside? It could be a far stretch to say they are worried about UV rays and skin cancer. Perhaps the popularity of video games and technology in general is keeping children indoors. Thirty years ago computers weren't around with their addictive tendencies, and neither were all the game consoles available today. Perhaps even parents are more protective of their children, and allowing their kids to go in the neighborhood or out to the park alone, and come home when the street lights are on is no longer acceptable or safe. Maybe schools should start considering having physical education class everyday or making recess longer.

These are only a few of the factors that are increasing the rate of childhood obesity. Now that they are known, what can you do to help prevent this epidemic from continuing? Research done by the Centers for Disease Control shows that in 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, and if there aren't changes made to the way Americans live, this rate will only go up.

Source: EzineArticles
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