Why the Rise in Childhood Obesity?

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With more than 50% of children already overweight, childhood obesity is more prevalent than ever. Many of these children are suffering physically, mentally and emotionally because of the habits and lifestyles they’ve gotten used to. Why are so many kids overweight and obese these days? Here are a few reasons why.

* Many kids are over-scheduled as they race from school to clubs, activities, teams, etc. They need to eat and often they’re given high sugar, highly processed snack foods and drinks that are easy to travel with and that they can eat in the car. In an effort to save time, many parents go through the drive-thru to pick up their children’s meals, going from one activity to the next.

* Some kids are extremely sedentary. A major portion of their diets consists of unhealthy food/drinks and they’re spending hours in front of a television or computer screen vs. being outside and active. This combination of poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for poor health and obesity.

* Food choices: it’s no mistake that high sugar, highly processed,  nutrient poor foods  are placed at kid’s eye level on the supermarket shelves. When they’re  shopping with a parent, it’s easy for them to grab these items and throw them into the shopping cart. If they beg and plead enough, mom often gives in.  (I’m certainly not judging and have fallen victim to this many times myself !)

* Advertisements: kids are bombarded with brightly colored, fun and engaging ads and commercials to try the latest cereal, snack, dessert and drink. These “sub-foods” may even boast a few added nutrients yet don’t mention that the item has been so depleted of value, it’s doing nothing to support growth, health or nourishment.

* Lack of role models: unfortunately, many kids lack healthy role models. So many parents are overburdened with responsibilities, tasks and commitments that they simply don’t have the time, energy or motivation left for their own self-care. As a result, they’re unfit, overweight, overwhelmed and unhappy and unfortunately pass this on to their kids.

* Portion sizes: We’re “super-sizing,” “economy sizing” and “value mealing” as we think we’re getting so much more for our money. The price for that “value”? Larger waistlines, poor health and a lower self image and self-esteem as we become increasingly unfit, overweight and unhealthy.

So what can you do to prevent your children from gaining excess weight? Take a look back at the points above. Choose one to work on that needs to be improved and just… begin.

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March 2023