The Invisible Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Kid and burger

Parents will do anything to help their children when they’re sick with the flu, a cold or any other illness. So why is it that for many overweight children, parents neglect to provide proper guidance, education and support when it comes to eating right and exercising? With the epidemic of obesity continuing to expand, parents have the opportunity to do more to help their overweight kids learn lifelong lessons in the fundamentals of healthy living.

CBS News presented a new study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that found that “[p]arents of obese children often perceive their offspring as healthy, even if the child’s weight requires medical intervention.” They found this was especially the case if parents themselves struggled with controlling their weight and changing their own lifestyle habits.

The authors of the study point out that some parents may not feel they know how to make effective changes to their own lifestyle and so are reluctant to try and do so for their children, especially if they don’t recognize their own weight as a problem. In other cases, we as parents may want to protect the developing self-esteem of our children by teaching them to accept their bodies, but there needs to be a balance. It’s important to love yourself, love your body, be healthy, strong and live long. Parents have a duty to keep their kids healthy and teach them skills to make healthy choices. For example, the many options for feeding our grumbling tummies can make healthy eating a confusing process. Let’s teach our kids to reach for the veggies first and the sugar, never. The truth is, sometimes children become obese early and never recover.

According to the report, parents were more likely to push their obese children to eat better rather than advocate for proper exercise, potentially because parents who aren’t physically active themselves don’t know how to model these good habits. It’s important to remember that a weight loss plan featuring better eating is only half the answer. Exercising is a key component of weight loss and your family doctor can help you develop strategies for eating healthier and moving more. My book Just 10 LBS can help those unsure of how to approach these changes with their children and in their own lives. It teaches a simple weight-loss plan centered around three key components: Mend. Move. Maintain.

It is important to be active at any age. Make exercise fun and involve the whole family. It doesn’t have to be strenuous. Keep it simple and make it part of your family’s everyday routine. By moving regularly, eating a healthy, clean diet, and growing and developing the mind and soul, most people will feel happier and healthier.

If you or someone you love is struggling with food, call the Breathe Life Healing Center today and get answers to your questions. We specialize in binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating in adults. We don’t just treat the physical problem of being overweight, we address the inner issues like why we continue to overeat when we know it is harming us. Be smart, be safe, and be healthy.