September has all the children back in school, back to their routine of reading, writing, and arithmetic, school lunch and homework. September is also childhood obesity awareness month by presidential decree.
Just this morning a report said 1 in 3 children are over-weight. Nationwide the number of over-weight and obese children has doubled in the last decade to a full 32 percent, and of them 17 percent are obese. Among adults the numbers of over-weight or obese has risen to 69 percent. But the new is not all bad. Obesity rates have fallen by 43 percent for children age 2 to 5.
Before I go further I would like to tell you the silver lining. This is a problem of abundance. Everything is just so available to us all the time with no effort on our part except to drive up to the window and ask the kids what they want. But when parent take control of meals and families eat together, children eat more vegetables and more healthy dairy. Children who help plan healthy meals, shop for the ingredients, and help prepare the meal learn how to make healthy choices, learn a variety of skills, and like what they make.
Children want nothing more than our time and attention. Shopping together and cooking together is only one small activity to get children away from the screens. A game of driveway one-on-one, a bike ride, catch, chasing bugs, and a dozen other things can get us all moving and bring those obesity numbers down for children and adults.
What is making 1 out of 3 of our children over-weight to obese is not a mystery. We all know how easy it is to eat the cheap and plentiful fast food, and the number of screen hours our children spend is now estimated to be an average of 7 1/2 hours per day. Obese children are 35 percent less active on school days than non obese children. Obese children are 65 percent less active on weekends than non obese children.
Obesity causes children to report feeling of sadness, boredom, nervousness, stress, and depression. Childhood obesity causes children to experience cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, sleep apnea, bone and join problems, and poor self-esteem. As adults obese children can add stroke, various cancers and osteoarthritis to their risk factors.
Creating a healthy life for ourselves and our children should not be a punishment. If they really can’t wait, or if you can’t try saying, “Let’s wait till dinner is done to eat anything, but if you really can’t wait have some of these carrots and celery.”