A Sobering Truth
It is projected that children born in America today will live shorter lives than their parents and grandparents because of the obesity epidemic. Over just a few decades, the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents more than tripled (note: this refers to obesity only and does not include those that are overweight/at-risk of obesity). This significant increase is primarily related to changes in lifestyle habits.
Of major concern are the severe and immediate consequences of excess weight among youth, including high cholesterol and triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, obesity – largely related to poor diet and inadequate physical activity – is a leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
Parents and Family are on the Frontlines
Immediate action is required for the sake of future generations. The best strategy for fighting this epidemic is prevention. And parents and other adult family members must be at the forefront.
Parents Must Accept Responsibility
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents and adult family members to instill healthful behaviors in children. Whether we like it or not, parents are vitally important in teaching and modeling positive habits to kids. An adult can do something about his health if he so chooses; a child, however, is dependent upon an adult because he cannot care for himself on his own.
We have enormous influence on our children’s lives, including the habits they establish and maintain for a lifetime. Thus, it is the duty of parents and other adult family members to provide children with a healthy foundation.
Parents nurture, train, and provide for our children. If we fulfill these obligations, then we are also accountable for helping kids maintain a healthy body and weight. Children are incapable of doing so on their own, and if parents neglect to train kids while they are young, they will be unable to do so as adults.
While there are other adults involved in children’s lives that help influence and mold them, the majority of responsibility for teaching and shaping appropriate behavior falls on the family. The focus must be on what occurs in the home.
There is Good News
The good news is that there are strategies parents and adult family members can implement today in order to prevent obesity in their children. As a result, the outlook for our children, grandchildren, and future generations will improve dramatically.
10 Strategies for Preventing Childhood Obesity
2. Instill healthy eating habits beginning in infancy
3. Serve a balanced breakfast every day
4. Provide wholesome lunches and snacks daily
5. Eat out occasionally only
6. Regularly cook and sit down to nutritious family meals at home
7. Limit sweetened beverages
8. Help children establish physical activity habits early on
9. Limit “screen time” (television, video games, computers, iPads, smartphones)
10. Ensure that children maintain healthy sleep, rest, and relaxation patterns
Just like bathing and tooth brushing, positive lifestyle habits are foundational life skills. It is imperative that parents accept responsibility for teaching healthy habits to their children and begin doing so today.