Author: lindsaykeyes

Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?

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More and more children are becoming obese… What’s the reason?

The spike in weight gain that the current generation of children is experiencing is the fault of parents because they influence what their children eat, how often they exercise, and what values they have.

The life expectancy of each consecutive generation has been steadily climbing upward, until now. In some areas, up to a third of children are obese and the majority of them will grow into obese adults, which will lead to younger deaths. But do we blame our current society for making it easy to be inactive or making unhealthy food also the cheapest, most convenient food? No. Parents are those who should care the most about their child’s quality of life and life expectancy but recent studies show how detrimental parent’s actions can be to their children’s health.

Obesity in a child is directly linked to how he was raised because from a child’s first breath to the moment he reaches independence, parents are responsible for developing his eating habits. It is important to begin fostering proper nutrition early because people develop their food preferences and their general patterns of eating early on in childhood. Children are more likely to eat foods that they are exposed repeatedly early on in life (Lindsay 171). Parents need to realize that the foods and drinks their children are exposed to will remain embedded in their subconscious and affect their likelihood of being healthy.

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Monitoring food choices is not only important in the first few years but parents also have the responsibility of maintaining a healthy household until the child leaves the nest. In order to prevent weight gain, parents should limit the times they go out to dinner or order fast food and pizza. Unhealthy food should be limited and healthy low calorie snacks should be made readily available to kids of all ages. When kids come to the age where they have to eat meals at school, parents can pack them a healthy nutritious lunch rather than the convenient route of handing them 5 dollars and hoping they don’t spend it all on cookies.

Similarly to their responsibility to foster good nutrition, parents need to promote physical activity in their child’s life. Some may assume that it is part of the child’s personality, their natural likes and dislikes, if they enjoy being active. This is proven false by studies that show children are more likely to be active if their parents are (O’dea 300). Young children don’t know what exercise is or how to be active so they are fully relying on the responsible adults in their lives to promote safe opportunities for physical activity (Hills 54).

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Parents who are active are more likely to have kids that are active as well.

If physical activity doesn’t seem like a factor in preventing obesity, read into the many studies that prove “physical activity is associated with lowering risks of accelerated weight gain and excess adiposity among preschool aged children” (Lindsay 172). Having a proven, studied method of prevention for a disease and then not utilizing it to its fullest potential is a reason that their children are growing wider. If exercise is a normal part of a child’s life, they will forever keep making good choices to protect that body. Parents however are main promoters of exercise and if they fail to do so, their children will have a greater risk of becoming obese.

In addition to simply enforcing how to eat and exercise, parents must also be role models in every aspect of health. One study showed that the likeliness that a child would be active increased when both of his parents were also active (Lindsay 172). When a whole family becomes involved in a fitness program, the changes are easier to make because the child will have endless outlets of support to turn to (Hills 154). Parents and older role models can greatly impact the life decisions that a child makes, and proven by studies, children will have a greater desire to be active if their role models are too.

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Parents use television and video games as free babysitters.

Parents who are inactive can have the same effect. When parents watch two or more hours of TV a day, their children are twice as likely to be inactive than in families where parents make watching TV a special treat (Lindsay 173). Parents shouldn’t let children have TV’s in their bedrooms, however the majority of parents see TV as a free babysitter and a way to easily entertain their children with little effort so many are putting TV’s in their children’s rooms. About 68% of children have a television in their bedroom (Lindsay 174). Excessive TV viewing has been linked to weight gain so parents should be enforcing rules that limit screen time among their children.

Nutritionally, parents should practice what they preach in order for their children to latch on to the healthy behaviors they need to avoid becoming obese. A child will eat what and how their parents eat.

If a child notices that his dad grabs a snack every time he sits down in front of the TV, the child will do the same probably for his whole life. If a child notices that his parents eat heaping portions of “bad” foods, the child will know that this is normal and he will try to do the same to be like his parents.

Ultimately, if parents can establish healthy eating habits and a love for physical activity while also practicing the rules they preach, childhood obesity can be avoided. Hopefully parents will become enlightened with the knowledge that it is their fault that their children are becoming obese and once they accept that, they can take the necessary measures to reverse the epidemic and prevent it from happening again.

Works Cited:

Hills, Andrew (Editor), Neil King (Editor) and Nuala Byrne (Editor). Children, Obesity and Exercise. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Lindsay, Ana C. “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity”. The Future of Children, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 169-186. Princeton University Spring, 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

O’dea, Jennifer (Editor), and Michael Eriksen (Editor). Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies and Interventions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Images:

http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kty/lowres/ktyn197l.jpg

http://www.steadyhealth.com/130837/Image/obesity_child.jpg

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http://medicineworld.org/images/blogs/9-2009/obese-boy.jpg

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Short Cuts

There are parents today that make short cuts in parenting that have harmful effects in the long run for their children’s health. Just because fast food is convenient, inexpensive, and begged for by children, doesn’t mean that it is in any way beneficial past the initial primal need for food.

The central focus of the cartoon is the oversized baby who appears to be shouting or crying. Behind the baby to the right is a soft drink that is even larger than the baby itself. His left hand rests comfortably on a giant chicken nugget and his right hand is reaching eagerly for the jumbo size carton of fries that his eyes are fixated on. Holding the fries and offering them willingly is a man who appears to be the baby’s father. Next to the man is the baby’s mother who stands with her hands clasped looking lovingly at her enormous offspring.

There’s no doubt that the parents portrayed in this cartoon don’t have love and affection for their baby but I would doubt that they are thinking about how their short cut choices are going to damage their child’s health forever. Fast food is easy to get and easy to feed to any child. Have you ever met a kid that turned down a chicken nugget? But fast food isn’t an easy habit to kick once a kid figures out how much more delicious a french-fry is than a carrot stick. The baby in this cartoon is so large to imply that the way that he is being fed is going to affect him in the long run. With his parents extremely on board to feed him fast food, the baby will most likely become obese assuming he’s not about to start running track at 24 months or have an extremely fast metabolism. The artist’s inclusion of the parents in the image implies that it is parents fault that children eat what they do. If it was just a baby eating fast food, the artist could have been blaming society for making fast food such a staple in our lives. However, this cartoon is clearly a stab at the parents who choose to take the short cut in raising their children and overlook the importance of a nutritious and balanced diet.

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Who’s Fault is it?

Although a person is capable of growing up and making their own decisions, they will always be influenced by their parents during childhood and that is shown by the amount of obese children that become obese adults. The habits that form due to parental influence are more likely to stick with us through life.

The video opens with an obese man on an operating table in critical condition about to go under the knife. The doctor says that its a heart attack and the man is 5’9”, 300 lbs and only 32 years old. The video progresses backwards and we see short scenes in backwards order through the eyes of the heart attack man as he drinks sugary drinks, sneaks cookies out of his desk, struggles to push his child on the swing and is too out of breath to even throw a frisbee with him. Fast food stops and doctors visits where the man is warned he may have diabetes and needs to make a change in his diet. It shows him playing video games and hiding food within his desk. It also shows his mom and teachers rewarding him with sugary snacks for doing things well or even just to make him stop crying as a baby. Throughout the video are scenes that show him kissing his wife, graduating high school, and blowing out the candles during various years to show a backwards progression through his life.

The last scene in the video, or technically the first scene of the mans life that we see through his eyes is him as a toddler crying and hitting cheerios off of his highchair and to make him stop crying, his mother stuffs french fries into his mouth. This scene implies that it is the mothers fault that this child became an unhealthy adult because from the start she didn’t try to feed him a healthy diet. When he gets an A on his test, the teacher rewards him with a candy and I think the reason that the editor includes this scene in the video is to show that it is the fault of older role models like teachers and parents that kids develop bad habits. The movie has scenes from birthdays and graduation and the man kissing his wife which shows that obesity doesn’t take away everything from a person’s life but the quality of the scenes are what show how extra weight can be detrimental. For example, the man struggles with simple tasks that a fit person executes little to no energy doing like tossing a  frisbee or leaning in to kiss his wife. The backwards progression of the scenes does a great job of capturing the causes and effects of life. The effects are shown in the first scenes: heart attack, diabetes, and obesity. The causes are towards the end: Mom feeding him french fries and sugary juice from the start. Therefor the video supports my thesis that obese adults are the result of poor choices made by parents.

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Virtual Hopscotch

“Overweight Child Playing Virtual Hopscotch on Console.” CartoonStock. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. <http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/
directory/o/overweight_children.asp>.

 

The cartoon illustrates that a lack of exercise and an excess of unhealthy food at a young age will result in overweight children.

In this cartoon there is a young girl enjoying a doughnut while intently watching her television set which is playing something from a video game console located next to the screen which displays text that says “Virtual Hopscotch”. Equipped with a soft drink and a bag of chips, the plump child smiles happily while looking at the TV. In the background of the cartoon is a window with the shades open looking out to a clear sunny day.

If this girl was playing video games at night or during a rainy day it wouldn’t cause anyone to question the scene but since the sun is clearly shining outside, the child should be out there enjoying the day and being active. The “Virtual Hopscotch” game probably doesn’t exist but it seems to be poking fun at all of the games that take an active outdoor activity and make it into a game that requires little effort and movement to play. Madden Football for example takes a highly physical game and makes it require a fractional amount of effort to play and therefor builds no strength and requires no energy.

This girl is overweight and the reason for the size of people is what they put into their body and the amount of energy that they use. Since the girl is putting pastries, chips and soda into her body and the only energy she is exerting is the energy to smile and look at a TV and breath. Although the plump little girl looks pleased with her life, her size is bound to horribly affect her social life, career and health.

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Childhood Obesity

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This cartoon of a boy has stereotypes of the American child that certainly don’t apply to every 10 year-old boy living in this country. However, childhood obesity is a huge problem today. It has been predicted that the generation of children today are likely to die at a younger age than their parents will, due to not enough physical activity and too much unhealthy food being shoveled into their mouths.

The fast-food cup in the boy’s left hand is most likely filled with a sugary soft drink that he refilled twice at Burger King. Based on the size of this child’s stomach, his first choice at the fountain drink machine probably isn’t ice water or crystal light lemonade. The controller in the other hand indicates that he isn’t about to play outside with his friends on the jungle gym or play pickup basketball at the middle school. Children today are far more interested in playing indoor activities such as video games or even just wasting their day away surfing the Internet. Either way, this boy is consuming many calories and the only ones he burns off are the ones he uses to turn the TV and the Nintendo on, and then a few more from moving the joystick around.

His big glassy confused eyes and gaping mouth indicate that he probably is not at the top of the class and it can be assumed that he doesn’t know what is going on in the real world once the games and the food are out of the way. I’m sure he goes to school, based on national laws that require children to attend school, but he probably doesn’t pay much attention unless it’s lunchtime. Unhealthy foods are proven to negatively impact the ability of children to focus and get good grades in school. Lack of physical activity also hurts the brain’s ability to function.

The most noticeable aspect of the image is the bulging unsightly tummy protruding between blue jeans and a tiny american flag tee shirt. If his weight and size don’t decrease soon, this child is doomed to have a life full of health complications both physically and mentally. Childhood obesity is a problem in the United States and more parents need to get on board with eating healthy meals and being more active.