Why is the childhood obesity rate so high in our country? Why is it so hard for children to lose weight, when they should have high energy levels? Why is it that even for parents who instill good healthy lifestyle habits, their kids can become overweight or obese? There are many questions that surround childhood obesity and kids’ weight loss and some of the answers are addressed in a recent CNN article by Jacque Wilson.
As one mother in the article points out, although she practices good eating habits with her children, there are factors beyond her control at school and extra-curricular activities. Teachers hand out junk food in the morning, before it’s even lunchtime and sugary treats are used as rewards after soccer practice. It can be extremely frustrating for a parent who works so hard to practice good habits, only to have them unravel outside of the home.
Dr. Stephen Daniels, chief pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado, points out that every day, children are exposed to fast-food advertising, surrounded by vending machines at school, have hundreds of channels to watch on TV, own multiple video game systems, and live in neighborhoods that don’t even have sidewalks. It is not a very promising environment for a healthy lifestyle.
Studies have linked overweight and obese children with social issues, including bullying and isolation. More importantly, excess weight is linked to multiple health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, liver disease and bone and joint problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The statistics are scary: about two-thirds of obese children grow up to be obese adults, which makes the fight against childhood obesity even that more critical.
Another reason why weight loss is so difficult for children? Stress. Researchers have found a link between stress and lack of self-control, which can lead to overeating. It can also damage the ability to avoid temptation, which means more junk food, leading to excess fat and a higher body mass index. It can be a vicious cycle: lower income children have less healthy food stores nearby, more junk food available because it’s cheap, fewer places to play outdoors, and a harder time curbing bad impulses.
“What we need to do as a society is work to make the healthier choice the easier choice,” says Daniels.
Fortunately, that does seem to be the direction we’re moving in. Policymakers are issuing new rules for healthier foods in school and local programs are encouraging more physical activity. Of course, the obesity crisis will not be fixed immediately, but it is the right idea.
Daniels knows how important it is to get the whole family on board to follow a healthy lifestyle. “You have to understand what kinds of behaviors are leading to the problem and the changes to take,” he says. “It’s helpful to go slow. It’s about simple goals. You don’t have to get to a perfect weight in order to have the health benefits.”
Shane Camps & Resorts believes in the same philosophy as Daniels. Weight loss goals should be realistic and do take time, but the health benefits you gain from even the smallest changes will have positive effects for a lifetime. Get the whole family involved: Camp Shane offers weight loss camps for children and teens in New York, Georgia, and California. Shane Diet Resorts weight loss program for adults has a location in New York. For healthy lifestyle tips on Twitter, follow @campshane and @shanedietresort.