As I eat healthily and exercise almost every day in adulthood, I can’t help but reminisce from time to time, “I miss the good ‘ol days when I could eat whatever I wanted.” However, I’m not sure how accurate my memory truly is. If I had truly eaten what I wanted at all times, perhaps my life would have been very different than it was then and than it is now.
My parents were very good about feeding my sisters and I nutritious and wholesome meals as we grew up from crazy kids, to moody teens, and finally to young adults. This, in turn, taught all three of us to continue these healthy eating practices now that we are on our own. Such loving parents who cared about our health was something that my sisters and I took for granite when it came to food. Not all children have the luxury of parents who care enough about what they put into their stomachs.
Here are the cold, hard and sad facts: Incidences of childhood obesity have more than tripled in the past thirty years… The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008… Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period. Childhood obesity leads to not only short-term health problems, but also long-terms health problems that can haunt children throughout their entire lives.
So what do I recommend? While I can only do such much to make parents see the importance of feeding their children well, I can make a significant recommendation with regard to the other end of the weight gain spectrum — exercise. As my 60-second solution to the problem of childhood obesity, I suggest that televisions and computers in obese children’s households should be hooked up to an exercise bike or treadmill. The only way that the television or computer will function is if the child is exercising. If they don’t like the treadmill or stationary bike, then they should go play outside with their friends.