In America, 31% of adults and 18% of children are obese, as defined by their body mass index (BMI). The majority of excess weight is the result of a bad diet, lack of physical activity, home environment, psychological factors, genetics, socioeconomic factors, medical conditions, and sleep. Children require extra calories to fuel their growth and development in the early stages of their life. However, if they consume more calories than they’re burning, the result will be excessive weight gain. Childhood obesity is almost always a result of a number of factors at work together that increase the risk.
Obese children are at risk for a number of conditions that are potentially fatal. The majority of the problem for obese children is their day-to-day lifestyle and eating habits. Fast food companies establish restaurants in areas that are easily accessible to families with children. For example, 37% of schools nationwide are within walking distance of at least one fast food restaurant.
As Americans, we’re known for our fast-paced lifestyle and many citizens are over-scheduled and over-committed. They run from activity to activity and don’t take the time to prepare or plan meals. This means it’s easier to just grab a meal from a fast food chain on the way home from work or to treat your children to a nice milkshake after a sports game.
McDonald’s is the second biggest fast food chain in the world behind Subway. Their featured Big Mac is 540 calories and contains 29 grams of fat while a medium side of fries is 380 calories and 19 grams of fat. Keep in mind that the general caloric recommendation for Americans is 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day as well as 50-60 grams of total fat. But the ease of access to these foods appeals to so many Americans because people see a value in cheap and quick food.
Unhealthy habits are formed at home from a very early age with the influence from parents and caregivers. when you cook at home, you’re in control of your nutrition. You decide the ingredients to use. You decide the portion sizes. You decide whether there’s a vegetable on the plate or not. Cooking at home and sharing meals with your family not only helps you stay healthy, but research shows kids perform better in school and get along better with their peers.
Apparently this problem affects our safety as a nation too so better to start your lifestyle changes sooner than later.
If children see that their parents and friends are physically active and having fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active for the rest of their lives. If families plan activities that provide everyone with exercise, like walking, biking, or swimming it will drastically reduce the chances of their child becoming overweight. However, parents must be aware that overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities. It is important to help these children find physical activities that they enjoy and that aren’t embarrassing or too difficult.
See how this family turned their lives around and totally changed their lifestyles to better suite their health needs:
Carman, Tim. “Michelle Obama moves into the kitchen to fight obesity.” The Washington Post. n.p. 14 March 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Benaroch, Roy, MD. “Obesity in Children.” WebMD. n.p. 2 Sep. 2014. 27 Nov. 2014.
Mersch, John, MD, FAAP “Childhood Obesity.” MedicineNet.com. n.p. 19 Sept. 2014. 28 Nov. 2014.
Muntel, Sarah, RD. “Fast Food – Is it the Enemy?” Obesity Action Coalition. n.p. n.d. 30 Dec. 2014.
Pesci, David. “Fast foo not the major cause of rising childhood obesity rates.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill News. Beanies, Thania. 15 Jan. 2014. 26 Nov. 2014.