Childhood Obesity Parents are the Blame

In recent years, it has become a realization that some children are becoming more obese throughout their childhood years (foureighteen years old). This could be caused be several reasons: family structure, lack of knowledge of high calorie foods, and the busier lives that families lead today. Parents should be held accountable for their actions (and lack thereof) that result in a negative impact on their child’s weight, causing them to become obese/overweight in their childhood years.

Depending on who you ask who is to blame for childhood obesity, you will get a different answer. According to a survey of parents by ACNielsen:

  • only 1% of parents blamed manufacturers
  • 7% blamed advertising on TV, etc
  • 9% blamed the child
  • 10% blamed fast food companies

Two-thirds of the parents blame themselves. (verywellfamily.com) Afterall, parents are the ones that inadvertently teach children what to eat, and what to pick to eat when the they (parents) are not around. Teaching children good healthy eating habits while they are young is a responsibility that parents need to more seriously. What they learn about eating at a young age will follow them their entire life and ultimately change the way that they think and look at food.

From birth, children build trust in their parents to the point where they trust and believe that whatever their parent do/say is what is right and best for them. So, parents are always obligated to do everything possible and appropriate to provide and maintain a healthy lifestyle for their children. Parents must be consistent in doing the necessary and positive actions that will contribute to their children well sustained and healthy.

Combating childhood obesity can be a difficult task for the busy family with many children, but it can be done. The following are some ways that the National Institution oh Health recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and I strongly support them:

Having healthier snack options available from which children can choose

Drinking the recommended amount of water for weight and height (usually eight eight-ounces glasses a day

The recommended daily amount of fluid is:

  • Five glasses (one liter) for five to eight years old
  • Seven glasses (one point five liters) for nine to twelve-year old
  • Eight to ten glasses (two liters) for thirteen plus years old
  • Being active for at least sixty minutes per day
  • Watch the serving size that you are eating

In a poll done by Gillian K. Steelfisher, some parents believe that “it is not ethical to limit their child to a certain amount of food or portion”.

Forty-four percent of parents say that it is difficult to have their kids eat healthy

Eleven percent of parents say that eating healthy is too expensive

Seventy-nine percent of parents do not care if their child eats healthy

Sixteen percent of parents do not have time to prepare healthy food

Seven percent of parents do not know if their children consume unhealthy food

Thirty-six percent say it difficult to have their kids exercise

The Center for Disease Control suggests having children being physically active for at least sixty minutes a day. Along with teaching their children poor eating habits, parents can also teach their children to be lazy. By not encouraging physical actives is another way that parents are teaching their child unhealthy habits. According to the BBC News magazine (bbc.com), watching television was one of the most popular activities for children, and seventy five percent of junior high school aged kids would rather stay home than go to the local park. Parents are the ones who teach their children exercising habits and it is their responsibility to get their children active.

Too much television and video game playing play a major in the childhood obesity epidemic that children are facing. By limiting screen time and encouraging children to be more active can potentially save their lives.

Sitting and being inactive for long periods of time can contribute to children being overweight. Parents cannot simply blame the television and video games for their child(ren) being overweight. Afterall, they (parents) are allowing their child(ren) to have access and play the games. They (parents) are the ones who purchased (or allowed it to be gifted) and brought into the home. Adding yet another reason that parents are to be blamed for their child(ren) being obese/overweight. Discovery News argues that interactive games can get children up and moving, helping them become more active and lessen the likelihood of weight gain. The problem is that the children are not playing interactive games.

Parents are neglecting their children by continuously allowing them to play video games and watch too much television. In 2007, the British press says that a seven-year-old weighed in at more than 200 pounds. He could not walk to school. The authorities threatened to take the child from the home. This brings up the question, is childhood obesity considered neglect and medical neglect?

Child neglect typically is defined as the failure of caregivers to seek or to provide necessary medical care. To determine whether severe childhood obesity constitutes medical neglect, it is necessary to assess on the criteria of these three things:

A high likelihood that serious imminent harm will occur;

A reasonable likelihood that coercive state intervention will result in effective treatment;

The absence of alternative options for addressing the problem.

Although it is difficult for authorities and medical personnel to determine neglect and medical neglect, it is an ongoing argument. David Rogers, a public health spokesman for the Local Government Association stated that “parents who allow their children to eat too much could be as guilty of neglect as those who do not feed their children at all”. If your child plate has as much food as yours, you might be overfeeding. (By parents allowing their children to eat the same portion as them, they (parents), are setting their children up for failure and many health problems.

In the same article a pediatrician argued that obesity is a “public health problem, not a child protection issue.” When childhood obesity begins to cause taxpayers money, it is no longer a private family issue granted, then it becomes a huge public issue. Being overweight/obese can cause several healthcare problems that state and federal government money will be spent on in the health care system. The CDC (center for disease control) says that there are immediate and future health risks for childhood obesity and can have a harmful effect on the body. Children who are overweight/obese are more at risk to have:

High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

Breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea.

Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.

Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).

The future risks are:

Children who have obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity.11 Adult obesity is associated with increased risk of several serious health conditions including heart disease, type two diabetes, and cancer.

If children have obesity, their obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood are likely to be more severe.

There are many issues with being overweight/ obese and having a high BMI. One’s weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) plays a prominent role in the obesity equation. BMI is defined as: a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness.

Aside from the many health issues that children will face, parents need to keep in mind that there are many social stigmas that come along with being overweight/obese. Depression and bullying at the top of the list that children face with being overweight/obese. Mental health is so important right now, with social media being overly popular it is an easy way to bully someone (a child) for their weight and the way that they look.

In two thousand six, eighteen-year-old, Brandy Vela killed herself in front of her family. The reason(s), she was bullied online for being overweight. In a statement to CNN, her sister, Jackie stated “people would make up fake Facebook accounts and they would message her, and she wouldn’t respond, and they would still come at her,” they would say things like “why are you still here?’ They would also call her fat and ugly.

It is the role of the parent to set the example of acceptance to their children. When they fail to do that, things like online bullying can happen.

With the advancement of social media and its easy accessibility, it is easy for a child to get bullied online. Debate.org an online polling site, asked the question should parents monitor what their children do on social media? Surprisingly forty percent of parents said yes, while sixty percent said no. This is shocking because the internet is made up of a lot of dangerous things that parents need to be aware of. There are many unsafe things that lye on the web.

Opposing arguments on the site are “children should be trusted”, “children need and deserve privacy” and “teenagers and parents’ relationships should be based on trust”. Others say that the web is “dangerous and what children do on the internet should be monitored closely. One parent states that “Parents should check a child’s social media account because of safety reasons I mean parents could never know what is happening with their child. The Internet is a different world its a world were you are behind a screen where nobody could say anything to you so you could start bullying people and people could be under danger that’s why parent should monitor a child’s social media.” Predators of all kinds lurk on the internet and prey on vulnerable feelings.

Children mimic what they see their parents doing. If they see their parents drinking sodas all day, they in turn will, more than likely choose a soda over a bottle of water. In an article posted on LiveScience.com it states:

Teens whose parents drink soda every day are nearly forty percent more likely to drink soda every day themselves than teens whose parents do not drink soda.

Teens whose parents eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily are 16 percent more likely to do the same than teens whose parents do not eat five servings a day.

Nearly half of adolescents (forty eight percent) whose parents drink soda every day eat fast food at least once a day, while only thirty nine percent of teens whose parents do not drink soda eat fast food at least once daily.

Forty five percent of teens whose parents do not eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily eat fast food at least once a day, while only thirty nine percent of teens whose parents eat five servings a day eat fast food at least once daily.

Children are watching parents and it is solely the parent’s responsibility to model good healthy behavior. Past research has shown that parents who eat healthy and exercise are more than likely to have children who do the same. Parents play a major role in their children’s life, they are the first example of how and what their children will become. The responsibility should not be taken lightly.

Conclusion

Parents must undertake as their child(ren)s first teachers, the primary role of what their child(ren) eat and are doing in terms of being active have to take responsibility for their actions and lack thereof. From birth children build trust in their parents to the point where they trust and believe that whatever their parents do/say is what is right and best for them. So, parents are always obligated to do everything possible and appropriate to provide and maintain a healthy lifestyle for their children. Parents must be consistent in doing the necessary and positive actions that will contribute to their children being well sustained and healthy.

A child’s formative years are spent in the care of their parents or other adults who serve in the capacity of a caretaker. Whatever these adults say or do while in their care, greatly impacts and influence the overall lifestyle of their children. They (parents) are responsible for ensuring a strong and healthy foundation in their (children) early lives. As such, parents should be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof that result in negative effects on the weight of their children, as a result causing their children to become exposed to obesity in their early childhood years.

So, who and what are to really blame for children being overweight/obese? After all, especially for younger children, parents (guardians) are the only ones that control over all these things. They control where they eat, what they eat and how much they eat. Good eating and dietary habits all start at home.

Parents need to reflect on and make necessary/much needed change in their behavior and ways of thinking in term of how their children are doing in terms of eating, drinking and physical activity. Parents should ask themselves “Am I providing healthy foods?” “Do I offer and encourage healthy choices?’ Am I setting a good example for my children?”

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