Childhood obesity has become more prevalent in today’s society than ever before. “Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese” (American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010). Who shall we blame this epidemic that is making today’s children obese? Are sheer genetics the cause or shall we blame the parents? In this essay, I will discuss the media’s role in obese children. I will also un-wrap the parent’s role in controlling obesity in their children. I will un-veil some of the health issues that arise when children are obese.
Finally I will lend some ideas to help parents when they need to consider their children’s diet. With proper education, parents could change the chance of their children being affected by this new age illness often referred to as obesity. As parents teach their children there are many obstacles that get in the way. Commercials for fast food are much more appealing to children than ever. “In 2009 preschoolers saw 56% more ads for Subway, 21% more ads for McDonald’s and 9% more ads for Burger King, compared with 2007. Children age 6 to 11 saw even more: 59% more ads for Subway, 26% more for McDonald’s and 10% more for Burger King.
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The report also found that African American kids and teens are exposed to at least 50% more fast food ads than their white counterparts” (Melnick, 2010). As a mother myself, it is hard to avoid these commercials taunting my child. Each time there is a new season or movie there are also new toys within McDonald’s Happy Meals. Advertising candy during the mid-day cartoons has also become a pit-fall. I can recall the commercial for the Charm’s Blow Pop bubble gum commercial where all the kids are jumping around having a great old time with their lollipops. Again, this is media targeting our kids to sell their products.
However, parents play a big role in what their children eat as well. In Melnick’s article he says, “40% of parents reported that their child asked to go to McDonald’s at least once a week… Most of the parents gave in: 84% reported bringing their 2-to-11-year-olds to a fast food restaurant within the previous week” (Melnick, 2010). Parents need to arm themselves with education and willpower to deny their child’s every fast food whim. It is inevitable that marketers will use children to sell their product. Just imagine, it has been a long day at work and you are ready to pick the hildren up from day care. They have been running around the play yard all afternoon and being whiny about how hungry they are. Then you suddenly think to yourself “what did I defrost for dinner? ” You realize you have nothing. So you give in to your children’s demands with a trip to the drive through window. So now we have caused our child to consume a high-fat and high-cholesterol meal. The health issues that children encounter are similar to those of the adult realm. By contributing to a child’s bad diet, they are not being set up for a long future.
A list of long-term complications can include heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems and sleeping problems such as sleep apnea (American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010). To avoid shorting our children’s lives, we must do things to prevent these things from occurring. Maintaining an active life-style is important. I know for my son it is pre-programmed in him to just run around constantly. From my background in working in fitness and nutrition it is natural for children to have a ton of energy and a high metabolism.
As parents it is easy to embrace and encourage this natural system. Feeding our children a healthy variety of foods from all the food groups is essential. Using small plates at the dinner table makes a meal look bigger than it is causing children to eat less. Ensure there are plenty of vegetables and fruits around to snack on as convenience food. This will avoid temptations of a starchy or high fat content snack. Keep meat choices lean as red meat tends to be higher in cholesterol and fat. With self-discipline and dedication, parents can be the pivotal person in their child’s life.
They can instill healthy eating habits and promote activity than will ensure a better future for today’s children. Following these basic steps will be a great start in getting today’s children back on track to better health.
Obesity In Children And Teens. (2010). American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://aacap. org/ page. ww? name=Obesity +in+Children+and+ Teens§ion = Facts +for+Families Melnick, M. (2010, November 8). Study: Fast-Food Ads Target Kids with Unhealthy Food. Time. Retrieved from http://healthland. time. com/2010/11/08/study-fast-food- ads-target-kids-with-unhealthy-food-and-it-works