A recent blog posting by one of my Twitter friends got me thinking good and hard about a pressing issue in America today: Obesity, specifically childhood obesity. This is actually a topic I’ve always felt strong about. I can remember the first time that I even developed a strong viewpoint on it, and funny enough it was watching the Maury Povich show. The topic was about mothers whose children were severely overweight, but they saw no issue with it… Not even after all the advice given to them by pediatricians and dieticians. It was extremely infuriating to watch, but I couldn’t help but be glued to the TV and watch the drama unfold.
So this brings us to the question… Is the childhood obesity epidemic the fault of the children or the fault of the parents? What about obesity in general? Who can we blame that on?
Childhood obesity can only be blamed on the parents of the children who are obese. There is simply no excuse for children to be so overweight at this day in age. It is the responsibility of the parent to provide their household with proper choices for adequate nutrition, and also to monitor how much the child is eating. Unfortunately, we are stuck in a society that has rapidly evolved into a sedentary lifestyle (which seems to be antithetical to the fast-paced society that we claim to live in). Parents seek quick and easy fixes for their families so as not to get in the way of their hectic schedules… This results in the purchasing of cheap Kid Cuisine TV Dinners or daily runs to McDonald’s for the ever-popular, kid-friendly Happy Meal. Young children will certainly not have the sense to turn down something that tastes good and comes with a toy, so how are they to know that constantly eating such bad food is the reason why they’re fat?
Along with the quick fixes of fast food and junk food come the quick fixes of toys and other items to keep children entertained and occupied while parents tend to the house or their own personal needs. Instead of buying children books, jump ropes, scooters, bikes, frisbees, or whiffle ball sets, parents are resorting to the more costly (but “more” entertaining) Nintendo DS, Xbox, Playstation 3, Wii, computers and computer games, iPods, and even cell phones!! (We won’t get started on my views for THAT particular subject… Hmph). And we wonder why our children have become fat, lazy, and spoiled! What are they doing?? They’re clearly not getting any type of exercise by sitting inside the house all day! Why not put them to work helping rake the yard or pull weeds? But wait- as a parent, you would probably rather avoid hearing them bitch and complain and just leave them inside the house where they can be glued to the TV set for hours without disturbing anyone… Besides the deprivation of physical activity that children face, they are also losing valuable family time with their parents.
Now… Some of you out there may be thinking, what about low-income families who may not have access to healtheir foods? After all, most low-income families usually are only able to buy cheap, processed foods, right? WRONG! My parents and I were as low-income as you could get without being dirt-poor. We lived off food stamps and Medicaid, and whatever income my dad was able to bring in as a carpenter. We certainly did not have enough money to buy expensive foods at the grocery store, and at times we did buy a good amount of processed foods (food stamps at the time were rather limited to the things they would let you buy). But that didn’t mean that we couldn’t buy SMART! Buying fresh vegetables and proteins is actually cheaper than buying all boxed and TV meals. When we had no choice but to resort to TV meals, we usually purchased the low calorie meals. And since we didn’t have much money to buy expensive forms of entertainment, I was usually either reading or playing outside in the backyard. Most of the time, though, my mom or dad had me outside with them sweeping up the carport or helping pull weeds… It sucked, but hey… It taught me good work ethic! The point is not even having a low income is an excuse for making poor choices of diet and exercise.
I’m a firm believer that it all starts in the home. When parents become lazy in their parenting, children suffer the consequences, simple as that. Parents need to learn how to make better, healthier choices when it comes to feeding their children, and they must also make wiser decisions about what their children do in their free-time. They must be proactive and initiate these changes in their family lifestyles in order to avoid unhealthy habits.