Article by Merilee A. Kern.
It’s a downward spiral. Childhood obesity is fast becoming a nationwide epidemic, and the physical and psychological effects of being overweight can last a lifetime. While the issue of weight problems in children has become a “hot-button” topic throughout the news media, far too many families don’t have adequate information or resources when it comes to teaching their kids about healthy eating and fitness.
It’s certainly not easy being a kid in today’s complex culture, where children have a harder time making healthy decisions than their parents did. Not only do they have to negotiate any number of social landmines at school, but overweight and obese children also face many other challenges. Today’s overweight kids, of which there are many, more frequently have to deal with the discrimination of their peers and scrutiny from adults.
We all must understand that placing blame doesn’t lessen a child’s suffering, nor does it make them any healthier. However, that doesn’t mean we should simply resign ourselves to believing that genetics are accountable for the child’s weight problem and, therefore, do nothing about it. It is important to help America’s kids navigate through society’s overabundance of junk foods and fast foods, and teach them to make sound choices regarding nutrition and fitness. Lobbying for more physical education courses at school is a good start, but it is simply not enough.
As with adults, there is no quick, easy weight-loss fix for children. To solve a child’s weight problem, parents need to help them modify dietary intake and manage physical activity and lifestyle behaviors. They must also seek out resources that can help the child start making small lifestyle changes RIGHT NOW. These solutions do not need to be the result of clinical trials or doctorate level dissertations. There are many new products in the marketplace today that have been introduced at the grassroots level by Americans, who have decided to take action:
- As the author of It’s Not Your Fault That You’re Overweight -- A Story of Enlightenment, Empowerment and Accomplishment for Overweight and Obese Kids (www.notfault.com), I happen to be among those offering a new and unique resource. It is important to point out that my book is not only for kids struggling with weight issues, but also for those within a healthy weight range trying to stay motivated, continue making wise lifestyle choices and better understand and empathize with peers currently struggling with a weight problem.
- Fitwize 4 Kids (www.fitwize4kids.com), a national chain of children’s gymnasiums that promote adolescent physical fitness, health and wellness, is another new resource that I applaud. The company’s unique approach combines fitness and fun through methods specifically designed for kids’ ages 6.5 to 15. Fitwize 4 Kids programs increase self-esteem and teach children how to implement proper nutrition and exercise habits in their everyday lives.
- Another great front-line solution is “Thumbs Up for Healthy Living” –- an educational program that promotes nutrition education, physical activity, and home-learning based activities designed to promote student wellness. Guided by the playful character known as “Skipper the Thumbs Up Guy,” children learn about proper nutrition, good eating habits and a basic fitness program in a language they can understand. The program features the patent pending EZ-Rope Classic (www.ezrope.net) -- the jump rope without the middle that allows children to get the fitness benefit of jumping rope but without the difficulty, as well as a Thumbs Up For Healthy Living Interactive Workbook, Total Conditioning Cardio with EZ-Rope DVD, and Thumbs Up Thermal Lunch Bags, among other resources.
- Leave it to a former NAVY SEAL Instructor and ACE Certified Personal Trainer to take health matters into his own hands; Phil Black’s FitDeck Jr. (www.fitdeck.com) is an ever-changing 50-card deck of exercises for children ages 5–16 years old. The fun, kid-friendly exercises call for basic body movements and require no equipment whatsoever.
These are just a few of the many examples of sound and relatively inexpensive products that can help families get on track in short order. Parents and children need to act now, as America’s kids are at risk for the many health complications that come with being overweight, or obese. This is no small problem, as obesity is known to contribute to devastating diseases and emotional depression. For the health of our nation and all of our futures, we must provide our children with the basics: the knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle and the desire and tools to do just that.