• David Jack

Youth Obesity and How YOU can get involved

Updated: Jul 22

Lately, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to what I eat. As a matter of fact, I’ve recently CUT OUT ALL SUGAR from my diet. (If you know me – you know this is BIG).

Weight issues and obesity, especially in pre-teens have received a lot of negative media attention recent years, and with good reason. The obesity epidemic has literally exploded over the last 25 years, with the obesity rate doubling among toddlers, while it tripled among teenagers. Unfortunately, the chances are great for an obese child to turn into an obese adult, unless someone intervenes. And who better to set your child on the right nutritional path than you, the parent.

Why do doctors and scientists seem to be so troubled by this trend? For starters, obesity has a significant implication on not only their life expectancy, but a plethora of other health issues; some not as obvious as you might imagine;

  • Heart diseases caused by elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Kidney failure

  • Skin disorders

  • Sleep apnea (pauses and breaks between breathing normally)

On a psychological level the excess weight brings about a series of other problems. At some point, especially during the turbulent teenage years, your child will become the victim of social discrimination and develop self esteem issues. These kids are at a high risk of developing eating disorders and succumb to unhealthy yo-yo diets. If you manage to diagnose it early, you can completely reserve the effects with a few minor changes and small daily efforts.

Not trying to overstate the obvious, but most children are overweight as a result of unhealthy eating habits and no physical activity. Granted, in certain cases obesity can also be a mix of genetic and environmental influences. Busy families are cooking less, opting for easy meals and fast food. Kids spend far less time playing and running around, and spend more time in front of the television. Furthermore, many schools are cutting back on the physical education programs.

What can be done? First of all, from the word go, it is very important to note that weight is a sensitive subject, even for a child, so broach the topic with consideration. The ultimate goal is to reduce excessive weight gain, while still enabling your child to grow and develop, so never just place them on a weight controlled diet without consulting with a specialist.

At SchoolAssemblies.com we’re considering putting together a new school assembly based on improving nutrition for kids. It’s a monumental task, but with some work – I think it can be done.

A few small lifestyle changes are all that is required. The two first obvious solutions will be to get your child moving and away from the television, and to incorporate more healthy, reasonably sized food portions into the family diet.

  • You do not have to eliminate the sugary treats completely, but ensure that these is no steady flow of junk into your house

  • Stock up on a supply of healthy snacks and fruits for them to nibble on when they do feel peckish. Also remember that some children eat purely out of boredom

  • Encourage the entire family to drink more water, and ditch the fizzy drinks

  • Sit down for a family dinner, as opposed to mindlessly eating in front of the television. Studies have indicated that people are not conscious of what or how much they consume when distracted. As an added bonus, you get to spend some quality time with your family

Youngsters should partake in at least an hour of physical activities daily. Remember that your children reflect your lifestyle choices, so get up, and get active with them. You will be surprised at the increase of your own energy levels. A few examples of moderate physical activity include;

  • Playing tag

  • Hide and seek

  • Skipping rope

  • Biking

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Hiking

  • Older children can be enrolled in a sports program

Do not set your overweight child apart from the family, as this will only alienate them further. The overall focus should only be on good health. Teach your kids to have a positive relationship with food and physical activity without emphasizing body weight. Stay tuned to our school assembly website for the best tips and programs for your kids anywhere on earth!

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