Preventing Childhood Obesity In America Starts With You

It’s extremely sad, but the U.S. has a serious problem with obesity.  This is not only adults, in which it is estimated to account for roughly 2/3 of our population, but it’s true in our children as well.  The apple – or in this case, the double with fries – doesn’t fall too far from the tree, as they say.  If you’re someone who struggles with your own weight and you have children, I don’t mean to make light of your situation, I really want to help. Childhood obesity is a problem that only spells long-term problems for their health, for your family’s well-being and for our country as a whole.

preventing childhood obesityWe’ll be talking more about healthy eating habits and goals in this article, but it is important to recognize that there is also a financial cost to examine.  The more overweight your child is, the more money it is going to cost you and them over the course of their life.  This cost is born not only from the additional cost of food, but from the health care costs and those due to lack of productivity as they enter the workplace.  You see, healthy eating and dietary habits are engrained early in our lives.  We learn by watching our parents and the world around us.

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In fact, a recent paper discussed how television commercials and other marketing avenues have a greater impact on your children’s dietary choices than you do. That is to say, children are more influenced by what they see ‘outside’ the home in terms of food choices than what their parents say.  Television was shown to have the greatest affect on them.

So, how do you help reset or encourage your child to eat a healthier diet?

Even given the fact above, it starts with you, their parents.  Your example will give them the guidance from an early age.  After all, who the heck is buying all that ‘junk’ food that they’re eating?  Your 4 year old probably isn’t riding their Big Wheels down to the convenience store.  If they are, then you’ve got more pressing problems in your home.

All kidding aside, you really are the one providing the food that your children eat.  We’re talking about the food that they consume 99% of the time.  Birthday parties, sleepovers, certain holiday occasions, these are all exceptions to all of our normal dietary habits or routines.  Enjoy them!  This is what life is all about.

The problem has more to do with the refinement and processing of our foods in many cases.  Ingredients that you can’t pronounce or would have a hard time spelling if you heard them don’t belong there.  They are usually added to give that food more shelf life or to enhance its flavor or color.  None of these things are necessary.

Effects of Childhood Obesity

How are these causes of childhood obesity you might be wondering?  Without getting too technical or bore you to death, they contribute to dysfunctions in the way our body’s process carbohydrates.  Many of the artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, Aspartame™ type of additives can lead to higher spikes in insulin.  This can cause a big drop in blood sugar levels that lead to hypoglycemia.

This will cause the body to feel hungry and so more of it or other foods are consumed.  Processed and partially hydrogenated foods are specifically formulated (yes, that’s in a chemistry lab) to trigger certain reward centers in the brain.  These foods ‘taste’ better than others, so they are more pleasurable to eat.  The problem is that they are ‘empty’ in terms of their nutrition value.

Here’s my prescription for you and your family:  buy foods that are grown as closely to the earth as possible, with as few processed or handled steps as possible.  Choose organic where possible, locally grown is preferable and a fun way to teach your kids about where food comes from.  Farmer’s markets are great places for this.  Meats and dairy can be eaten, as well.  The key point there is to avoid any meats or dairy products which have been raised with practices that use antibiotics, hormones or other ‘meat enhancing’ methods.  What goes into raising those animals will end up in your child too.

There is an entirely different article that we could address regarding early onset of puberty and menses that has a link to hormones added to the foods you might be giving your child.  Many meat and dairy products carry these risks, specifically.  Also, soy-based products have been implicated with this as well.  You’ll need to do your research regarding this topic, for sure.

Cardiovascular changes have been observed in elementary school children and teenagers.  These changes include plaquing, higher blood pressure, heart rate changes and higher blood lipids and cholesterol.  Childhood obesity and diabetes is also a serious concern.  Sound familiar?  These are some of the top killer diseases in adults in our country.

Some of the latest research regarding genetics and diet reinforces that age-old notion of you are what you eat.  In order to make more of YOU that is healthy and alive, you need to eat foods that will activate those genes in your body that do this.  The fact is that there isn’t really such a thing as ‘the gene for obesity’ so much as there are certain foods that turn genes on and off, depending on many factors.  The food choices available will activate your children’s genes to make them into who they will be.  Who do you want your child to be?

If you’re still struggling with the idea of how to treat child obesity in your own home or in the community in which you live, there are programs to help.  More and more celebrities, like chef Jamie Oliver and even First Lady Michelle Obama have made efforts to address the issue.  Jamie Oliver isn’t even American for Pete’s sake and he’s working harder to put an end to the problem of obesity in America.  Oliver has been doing work to change the school lunch program in America and you can even join his “Food Revolution”.

You might also be interested in watching some movies that relate with the health issues – presented in a real way – regarding this obesity issue.  One of the latest is called Forks Over Knives.  This one focuses on eating a more plant-based diet and goes into the benefits of that in much greater detail.  Then, there’s an older one called Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation.  There is no shortage of material to read or watch pertaining to the problem.

The key is to start somewhere.  Start with a healthy breakfast meal.  Make sure your child gets a healthy breakfast with protein to start their day.  This meal, above the rest, is key to setting the tone in the body.  Make it your goal to eat this way as well.  Latch on to a movement that supports healthy eating.  You’ll find it to be more inspirational and motivating to see progress this way.

The effects of childhood obesity are too grim and serious to ignore. There are also emotional and psychological consequences that your child suffers by being overweight.  Childhood bullying and aggression can lead to issues with self esteem and confidence as well.  Let’s agree that doing something to help your child learn healthy habits from an early age will benefit them in the long run of their life.

At Infinite Healing Arts Center, we provide chiropractic for kids because we recognize how important it is for their developing nervous system. There are so many disorders, like childhood asthma, autism, ADHD and others that are as disturbingly epidemic as childhood obesity.  We’ve seen how Network Spinal Analysis can help these kids realize their optimum potential!  If you’d like the same for your child and family, contact us today.


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