Childhood obesity, a worldwide epidemic, is rising. When you are a parent and you hear that you are worried this might affect your own children. Why so many kids nowadays are having excess body fat?
Over 30 years ago, children were healthier
I grew up in the 70’s, in a small island of the Caribbean’s; it was very rare to see a lot of overweight children.
Surely, the culture was (but not anymore) to enjoy a shabby baby as a sign of being well fed.
And yet, children grew up healthy and were not overweight in general.
Nowadays, everywhere you go and even in small islands like those in the Caribbean, you notice more and more overweight children.
Childhood obesity, what is happening?
I have to say during my childhood, we were not so exposed to so much sweets and especially fast food.
As a matter of fact, fast food restaurants appeared beginning of 90’s where I grew up. And there was only one restaurant for the entire island.
Today, there are 6 MacDonald’s, plus Burger King and other local pizza places.
Are they necessary these high number of fast food all over a street or a small town?
What’s happened to the healthy local food that I loved when I was young and still love?
You won’t believe that there is no place you go today in the world where you cannot see an obese child. What is even more worrying that obesity starts in some children at a very early age such as two years or even earlier.
It is seems that being overweight becoming somehow normal…We should not let this happen!
I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the figures. The facts are just chocking.
Childhood obesity, the facts are alarming
According to WHO (World Health Organization), the number of obese or overweight infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) expanded from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013.
And, most of these obese and overweight children live in developing countries, where the rate of rise has been more than 30% greater than that of developed countries.
I live in United Kingdom and Britain has one of the quickest-rising rates of obesity in developed world.
Cheap food is everywhere
In London, UK, you would not believe how many little restaurants selling very cheap and low quality food, high in calories, salts and saturated fat in one single street.
Sometimes, when you pass them, you can smell oil that has been used over and over again. It smells cheap. It is a very unpleasant smell and it just doesn’t feel all right at all.
What sadden me the most is to see so many children after school stopping by to buy this fast food. They have a box full of pieces of chicken and fries for just £1 or 2. At this price, they surely come back regularly to get some more during the week. They eat this after school, around 3.30-4 pm as a snack plus their dinner at 7 pm. Sounds like a lot of food for a child.
We are talking about children aged around 8 to 10 years or sometimes younger.
Are they looking for new taste?
I would not be surprised that these same children might have been eating quite reasonably healthy when they were younger. But, for some reason, years later, they just get into this bad eating habit. Are they looking for novelty in food, something their parents do not offer? Who knows?
So, I am thinking…
No matter, how aware and conscious I am for providing healthy food to my child who is currently 21 months, I still need to be careful that himself or his friends might influence him to get into this junk food culture.
In order to find solution to tackle obesity in children, we have to understand its causes.
Causes childhood obesity
How come so many children nowadays are suffering from obesity, lack of activity and poor diets?
The figures are very dramatic.
– Poor diet: Unfortunately, some parents are not very helpful by offering too often process food to their children. These foods are poor in nutrient and rich in calories.
– Lack of physical exercises: I remember when I was a child; I spent most of the time outside with my siblings running in the fields or swimming.
Nowadays, children are simply glued in front of a screen. They barely go out and run except when they are at school. They eat not only very caloric meals but they do not eliminate them, they just sit and watch TV or playing video games.
Also, for children who are overweight sometimes they cannot participate to any physical activities because of their weight, which lead to a vicious circle. They stay fat because they don’t exercise.
– Rise of junk and snack: Our children are growing up with the fast-food culture. They are exposed to so many bad choices of unhealthy food. Do they have to eat every day crips or biscuits? We are the parents who buy the snacks. Our children eat what in the cupboard. So we better choose healthier snack for them to eat.
– Too many sugary fizzy drinks: The amount of sugar in a fizzy drink is just staggering. Some children do drink them every day accompanied with unhealthy food. One more time, these sugary drinks can be easily replaced with smoothies or no added sugar fruits juice.
– Aggressive promotional of unhealthy food: Children are exposed too often to this advertisement offering the latest offer for drinks and foods, which are simply rich in calories and poor nutrients. Even super-size is offered to attract this young target.
Obviously, children who are overweight are at bigger risk of a number of health problems such as:
– High cholesterol and high blood pressure,
– Fatty liver disease,
– Joint and bones problem,
– Sleep apnea,
– Social interaction issue with low self-esteem.
According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), these consequences are short and long-term effect on health and well-being of obese and overweight children.
Finally, childhood obesity is affecting any country in the world. As parents, we have the power to better educate and encourage our children to eat healthy for their benefit.
What do you think? Please share here your experience or solution for tackling obesity in children.
NB: Pic from wikipedia