The following article, on the growing problem of childhood obesity, is a reprint of a article written by Staci Marks, a researcher and writer.
The article was published on May 2nd on
When you were growing up did you ever worry about what you were eating or about your physical appearance? Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States and more families are having to worry about the health of their children. It is now estimated that one in three children in the U.S. is either overweight or obese. This growing issue can be attributed to many factors. By understanding the issues we can help our children learn the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise.
Effect of Socioeconomic Status
Times have been hard for millions of Americans. Some people have to take any job that they can get or work multiple jobs to make ends meet. These hardships can enforce bad habits in how the family operates and how they look at a meal.
Though research has suggested that obesity rates may be going down, it appears that there is a measurable gap in rates of obesity in different socioeconomic statuses. It can often be hard for families to put food on the table consistently. Due to this reasoning there may be parents wanting their kids to eat as much as they can when there is guaranteed food if they do not know where the next meal will come from.
Also, since obesity causes health issues, we are seeing higher economic classes lower their rates. This can be attributed to the fact that they are paying for their personal insurance and do not want to deal with the rising rates unlike someone who might receive government help for health care. If there is not a way that we correct this problem, then we may see that obesity will continue widening the socioeconomic gap.
Does TV Play a Role?
The obvious answer is yes, but it is important to understand how TV plays a role in obesity. One of the most important ways that it affects children is through advertising. Recently researchers have looked at how many fast food restaurants and meals individuals could correctly guess when they removed the restaurant image. It was proven that the overweight and obese samples were able to correctly identify the food more consistently versus those individuals who were not.
Another way that TV affects obesity is that parents often have to rely on TV to entertain their children if they are busy working. Due to this, children are now spending more time in front of the TV rather than playing outside or doing other physical activities.
Is the Government Helping or Hurting?
As Americans we should expect that our representatives will battle for the issues that matter to us.
Since obesity is a problem that is affecting our children, we should count on parents to make smarter decisions for their children, and for the government to regulate the foods that are available to our children.
Think about school lunches for example, we want them to be as nutritious as possible. The problem with that is that the government provides meals for many students for free. Since this costs them lots of money they have unfortunately looked at alternative methods.
One current controversial move was the purchase of more than 7 million pounds of ammonia-treated meat for their meals. This meat, now referred to as “pink slime,” has been rejected by several fast food giants but was somehow deemed okay by the government.The decision was defended by the USDA, which swears that the food was safe. Talk about timing, the decision to buy the meat was announced after the government demanded new regulations on school lunches. They are now calling for more whole grains, produce, and less sodium and fat. The health fight seems to be on everyone’s mind in Washington.
First Lady Michelle Obama has pushed a child obesity campaign that will include better nutrition and daily exercise for our children. She also teamed up with The Biggest Loser to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Unfortunately, it seems that money is still the determining factor in Washington. Food and beverage companies continue to beat out government proposals.
- Secret Sabotage: Congress recently rejected a plan that would lower sugar, salt, and fat in the food that was marketed towards children.
- School Lunch Nutrition: In addition to buying pink slime, Congress recently declared pizza a vegetable so that it could continue to stay in the school lunch programs
- Lucky Streak?: Interestingly enough, the food and beverage industry has a near-perfect record when it comes to battling the health authorities and government
- Defeat: More than 24 states and five cities have tried to established a “soda tax.” Every time it was either dropped or defeated.
It is time that we stop making excuses for this growing obesity problem and think about our kids. As parents we should want the best for them and their well-being. The health tips that we teach them now are going to shape how they function for the rest of their lives. If we teach them the importance of a healthy lifestyle then we will all benefit in the end.