Think of kids’ biggest issues
This summer, I challenge you to think of someone else, someone a little smaller than you – because childhood obesity is no small matter.
According to the Center for Disease Control, over a third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Yet, 77 percent of parents of obese children don’t think their child is overweight; therefore children often get away with negative, unhealthy habits. Habits which can lead to prediabetes, cardiovascular disease, greater risk for bone and joint problems, and social and psychological problems, such as bullying or poor self-esteem.
Looking back, as kids we spent hours playing outside, usually games we’d make up. But kids today want instant entertainment, the kind that comes from computers, iPads or videogames.
According to this past season of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, children and adolescents in America spend an average of 7.5 hours a day on entertainment media, which includes 4.5 hours sitting in front of a TV, usually munching on junk food and slurping down pop.
Most children aren’t even active during the other hours of their day. One in four children do not participate in any daily physical activity.
The days of pick-up basketball games are slowly disappearing. One in four children don’t even participate in any daily physical activity. That number should be zero, and it’s disheartening more isn’t being done to fix this problem.
This summer when you head outside for that run, think about your younger sister. When you head to your school’s baseball field to practice some swings, think of your brother and his friends. When you’re sitting on the couch with the kids you’re nannying, think of those dusty bikes in the garage.
Summer is the opportune time to grab a bottle of water and head outside with children. Try introducing them to a new activity, whether it’s basketball or canoeing, or take a walk to the park every evening together. Playing with sidewalk chalk or swinging on the backyard swing set is better than sitting inside in front of reruns. Rollerblading, sand volleyball, swimming, Frisbee or setting up a slip-and-slide – any activity is better than another afternoon of snacking while leveling up on the newest video game.
The child you’re hanging out with may not have a weight issue, but instilling healthy habits will undoubtedly remain with them throughout their entire life. Ideally, they’d influence their friends to stay active, too.
We cannot rely on schools or even parents to tackle this issue. It’s time to take responsibility and start doing a small part for this problem.