Childhood obesity is now a sad reality for millions of households around the world. Roughly twenty percent of all children are now thought to have some sort of problem with their weight, and this problem is increasing every year.
The sedentary lives we now lead, with all sorts of delicious fast food and easy access to transport make sure that we are able to increase our girth with no problem. Children especially are exposed to all sorts of influences which determine what they want to eat. Many of the foods that we now consume have far too many calories with not enough nutrients and minerals. We are all in danger of becoming overfed and undernourished.
Research now shows that if nothing is done to stop the spread of this growing problem, then in time, we may have produced a whole generation of children and adults who are twice as large as their ancestors.
In the prehistoric dawn of man, we human beings led a vastly different life to the one we now lead. Food was probably scarce and all day was spent in some kind of activity – whether it consisted of hunting for nutrient-rich food, or making shelters for defense from other predators. Now, we have an abundance of food and a lot of our time is spent either sitting in front of the television or a computer, both day and night in some cases.
Social worries now also mean that mothers are more reluctant to let their children roam freely outside. This means that they are restricted to going out and about with their parents. We also live more stretched out lives than ever before. We may live in one town, but work in another. The school may be several miles away and the nearest stores may be half an hour’s drive. All these factors mean that we are walking less with our children than ever before.
The speed of life has also increased and the composition of the family has changed. There are fewer nuclear families, that is, two parents and two children. Now mothers have far less time to prepare a healthy meal at the end of the day. They have probably come home from work at the same time, or after the kids come home from school, so take-outs are an easy option. Take away food is cheap and very readily available, but unfortunately is loaded with fats and salt and contains a ridiculous number of calories. Even the snacks which we consume between meals can now have thousands of calories!
Unfortunately, this means that we are setting our children up with problems which will last them right up until old age. Heavier children have more burden on their heart, lungs, joints and other organs. Childhood obesity has been linked to adult depression and particularly to eating disorders in later life.
If we love our children, we must do something now to stop the spread of childhood obesity and ensure that they grow up to be happy, healthy adults.