Child obesity rates have been increasing steadily over the past 3 decades among all different age groups, races, and educational levels. There are too many factors that can increase the risk of childhood obesity to list them all.
Everyday we can come up with another reason from: too much television, too much video game playing, too much fast food, too much computer usage, too much eating, not enough exercise, its hereditary, school pressures, family problems, environmental influences, and on and on. Each one of these are legitimate reasons for the increase in obesity. However, parents, schools, and even the community can be influential in preventing and solving the problem of child and adolescent obesity.
Parents: It All Starts At Home
From the time our children are born parents are the nurturers and role models. Parents shape our children's environment from day one making typical parental decisions. They decide when and where their children will eat, what quality and quantity of foods that are provided, and what type and amount of exercise that their children get. Of course, these are the key elements to good health. Diet, exercise, and nutrition.
Being a positive role model is critical since children from an early age mimic their parents habits. If you have a taste for certain foods and serve those foods to your children regularly they will tend to carry those tastes into adulthood. In other words if you crave carrots your children will have a liking for carrots. If you have a sweet tooth though, the same is true. Setting a good example with healthy eating habits will help fight childhood obesity.
Home is where, from an early age, habits are formed both good and bad. As the numbers of families in need of dual wage earners increases the home environment changes due to the lack of supervision, cooking less nutritious foods, and not having enough quality active time with the children. Since parental examples are not being instilled in their children; exercise and how they are eating is compromised which many times leads to obesity.
Children who have one or more obese parents have a high probability of being obese adults. Genetics do have a role in this but many times it has more to do with family lifestyle such as: stocking the refrigerator with fruits and vegetables, limiting television viewing time, eating together as a family and keeping them physically active. Parents can be influential in preventing and solving the problem of child obesity.
Outside of family gatherings the local community is the first taste of the social scene for most children. Whether its church, the local YMCA/YWCA, or events at the town hall.
Local communities are well aware of the obesity epidemic and know that it is a worldwide problem. Many have taken positive steps to create a gathering place for children for recreational activities.
Towns have changed planning codes to develop more open space and walking or bike riding paths to encourage more physical activity. Some have put limits on fast food restaurants and vending machines near popular hang outs for children. Towns have become aware of the need for children to have a safe place to play outside of their homes. They realize that children will become too inactive if they don't, which could lead to childhood obesity.
As the number of pedestrian injuries, abductions, and deaths climb parents naturally are more cautious about allowing them to frequent these open spaces unescorted. The community is trying hard to help families fight child obesity by making positive changes in development.
Aside from summer vacation children spend more time in school than they do at the home during the daylight hours. Many schools have incorporated nutrition into their curriculum - teaching students about good eating habits and proper exercise. Vending machines have been banned at some schools and the Federal Government has regulations on the nutritional content of the lunch program.
Poor nutrition can influence academic achievement and issues with concentration. Obese children miss more school due to health reasons or taunting than non obese children . Schools do have an influence on child obesity.
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