As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Clearly, we are failing as parents and caregivers in our efforts to keep our children at a healthy body weight. In a society where video games and television dominate, and the days of bike riding until sunset seem long lost, we are raising and facilitating an overweight generation. Obese children and adolescents are far more likely to be overweight in adulthood, and therefore have an increased risk for a myriad of health problems including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer.
Proverbs 29: 17 tells us “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” So, who’s to blame for this epidemic? Is it the poor quality of the hormone injected food allowed in our public school cafeterias or is modern technology to blame? As funding for physical education programming continues to decline, and the FDA fails to regulate food quality and unsafe GMO (genetically modified organisms) practices, where does the responsibility to lie? The fight for effective government regulated health standards in the public school system is lengthy and complex. As such, I think parents should do what they can. Take the responsibility of educating your children at home, and lead by positive example.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” A huge part of the obesity epidemic lies in the lethargic and inactive culture that pervades our society. Regular exercise should be an expectation of our youth. Habits which promote well-being in childhood are more likely to continue into adulthood. Unfortunately, as the school hours spent in gym class continue to decline, building a society of active children and fit adolescents becomes increasingly more challenging. The authors of The Physiology of Sport and Exercise suggest that “Exercise physiologists can play a significant role in battling this epidemic by showing children the benefits of exercise and making exercise a fun lifelong habit.” Some adults may think that it’s dangerous or unsafe for a child to have prescribed exercise sessions, preferring to assume that a child gets enough exercise simply by ‘being a kid.’ Where this may have been true 30 years ago, it’s certainly not the case now. Contrary to the popular myth that child exercise can stunt growth, researchers haven’t found any significant or measurable effect on normal growth and development. The minimal risks associated with children who exercise far outweigh the dangers and costs involved with an increasingly obese society.
Psalm 127: 3 tells us that our children are a gift from God, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” We should be thankful for such a blessing, and show our gratitude by cherishing and taking good care of their health accordingly.
Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 5th ed., Kenney/Wilmore/Costill.