Today’s young person faces not only the challenge of acquiring an education, learning to interact with their peers, and surviving their parents, but they must also escape the national epidemic of obesity. Thanks to better medicine and foods supplemented with vitamins and minerals our young people’s overall health has never been better. The problem they now face is in controlling their eating and developing good eating habits.
It’s no wonder that our youth are overweight. We demand less of them physically than ever before. If they have any household responsibilities, they aren’t physically demanding. If they are hungry or thirsty, we have cabinets stocked to the brim with sugary snacks, sugary cereals, and sodas packed with calories. Mealtime is a trip to the local burger or pizza store.
Free time is spent in front of the television or the video game. These activities require no physical exertion. The only thing that moves is the finger or thumb.
We haven’t consciously set out to ruin our children’s health. In fact, we were trying to accomplish just the opposite. As parents, we wanted our children to have better lives, to have an easier time of it. We just didn’t stop to think about the consequences of these desires. To most parents, making life easier meant less hard work for our children. We didn’t realize in eliminating many of the physical demands of hard work, we would arrive at the obesity clinic.
The thing we should note here is that you don’t have to take this route. As parents, we have a real responsibility to teach our children good habits. Good work habits, good parenting habits, and good eating habits. We often fall short in our efforts to teach good eating habits because we don’t have them ourselves. We work late and then don’t’ have time to cook. We work all week, why not a night out for pizza on Friday? These are good ideas, but they fail to take into account that we aren’t fulfilling our role as healthy eaters, if we skip health for convenience.
Our children have learned well. They too, skip breakfast and then eat large lunches or dinners. They eat in between meals. They do not exercise regularly, and they often make bad food choices. The watch television while they consume sodas and sweets. They choose to play the video game rather than go outside and play ball.
Now, we have over half of our young people that are overweight. Many face self-esteem issues, health issues, and simply give up before there lives are ever begun. We have teenagers committing suicide because they don’t know how to cope with weight issues that have spiraled out of control. Somehow, we must come together as a nation and provide a solution for so many of our young people. If we give them the means, they can provide the desire. I believe we should search for alternatives to television and video games. We should find ways to provide healthy snacking choices and encourage their participation in school sports. Sports are a solution for not only increased physical activity, but a tremendous boost to their self-esteem. We were the leaders in reaching this place we must be the leaders in seeking a solution.