By: Wesley Cooper
Wait, let me grab my coffee… Ok, that’s better. So, what are we going to do about this problem that has been slowly spreading through the youth of the nation? Childhood obesity has been a nagging topic that everyone is aware of, but no one really wants to address. Worse yet, the blame for this trend often is passed from one cause to the next. For the sake of our future, we need to take a fresh look at this problem. In my best attempt, lets try to look at this from the lens of several perspectives.
Hi, I’m the child! I walk in the shadows of the adults that guide me through the exciting yet difficult task of growing up. My brain is a sponge and the things that I see on the T.V. and the acts of the adults I look up to provide a glimpse of what my life will look like when I’m all grown up. When I go to the store, I see bright colorful snack foods that are fun and exciting! They’re put in places where they catch my eye and are easy for me to reach. In my development I learn that food is associated with celebration, every time my whole family gets together, we always have a lot or really yummy food! Even though I really like to ride my bike and play outside, sometimes I can’t because mom and dad are busy and it’s not safe to play outside by myself. Instead, I watch other kids play video games on YouTube. At school I have a lot of fun learning how to read and write, but sometimes I get in trouble because I get distracted by the airplane that is flying outside the window. I try to pay attention because I really don’t want to miss recess again, that’s our punishment if we get too rowdy.
Hello there, I’m the parent. There is nothing more important in this world to me than my child. That’s why I work long hours. Providing the resources for my child to succeed is something I take very seriously. In todays world, it is very important for me to shield my child from the dangers they might encounter, that’s why they are always supervised if they play outside. I know spending quality time with my child is important, that’s why I try to save a little time in the evenings by grabbing some fast food on the way home from work. I know fast food isn’t the healthiest, but I’m just to tired at the end of the day to cook a healthy meal, wash the dishes, and make time for my kids. I should get more exercise myself, but I’m just too busy. At least I make time to take my child to T-ball! The family always has such a great time, we always stop and get ice cream after the game to reward a job well done.
You need something we got it! We sell convenience in a box to make your life easier. But there’s a catch, we want your money. So, we use clever ways to help you pull the trigger on buying our products that are made with low cost materials like high-fructose corn syrup. Sometimes we put cartoon characters on our boxes or use misleading labels like no added sugar to distract you from our product that is naturally loaded with sugar. We have also become very good at finding ways to advertise our products to the young demographic other than in store adds. Social media is the new hot thing and you can bet you’ll see our products in the margins.
The fall semester is just around the corner, and your counting on us to make sure your little ones will have what it takes to get into college when the time comes. A vital part of keeping a school outfitted with the educational tools to provide this, is money. Technically, each state is responsible for distributing tax dollars into schools, but the federal government does grant us funding for reaching certain criteria, like test scores. So really it is beneficial for both parties to cut P.E. classes and shorten recess, right? Besides, playground equipment is expensive, and that money would be better spent on more computers and books.
Putting It All Together
While taking a dive into the perspective of each of these factors that correlate to a child’s development, you’ll have to forgive my stereotypical portrayal of the “American Family”, but I’m just trying to paint a picture of contributing factors of this problem. And while each of these perspective influences play an important role, they are hardly all the viewpoints that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle path. The point I’m beating around is, children naturally want to be active, but the environment of which they are raised plays a critical role if this behavior is continued. We as adults have a way of escalating the mental stimulation of kids, to often at the expense of the physical components of growing up.
Lack of exercise and the exposure of poor food choices ultimately lead to becoming overweight. This often happens gradually or is just passed off as “baby fat” that they will eventually grow out of, but without proper guidance this is not often the case. An overweight child that enters the social participation of school, will many times experience body image ridicule that can contribute to several psychological effects. At a young age if a self-esteem issue is developed, it can instill a poor self-treatment pattern that can follow them into adulthood.
While we cannot control the genetics that we pass down to our children, the behavior in which they care for their body is largely a learned factor. As we guide our kids from one stage of their lives to another, we must make an effort to prioritize a life dedicated to a sound mind, body, and spirit in all that they do. The best way to do this is by setting a good example, educating ourselves, and thinking outside the box to combat the modern day obstacles that stand in the way.