Who’s To Blame for Childhood Obesity?

Guest Author Susan Hawkins

Roughly 2 million U.S. children are extremely obese. That’s a scary statistic, and it doesn’t even count the millions of children who are simply obese. A child whose weight is 10% higher than the recommended weight for his or her body type is considered obese. What’s going on, and more important, how do we stop it?

As a former fat kid, I can assure you—if your child is fat and tells you he or she is happy, it’s a lie. All it takes is one school bully to make every day of her life miserable. Self-esteem isn’t just low, sometimes it’s not even on the radar screen. Not a day goes by when your fat daughter doesn’t wish she was “normal.”

Having a problem with the word “fat”? What do you prefer? Husky? Overweight? Heavyset? Pleasingly plump? Those words are just euphemisms for “fat”, and it’s not pleasing, period. The question is—is it your fault?

I know kids are continually bombarded by advertising, marketing and peer pressure—things over which you have no control. But recent studies say babies who aren’t even walking require at least three hours of movement and activity each day, and children of all ages should engage in some form of vigorous exercise daily.

Are you making sure your child exercises? Are you addicted to the convenience of fast food? Do you reward your children for good grades or good behavior with a trip to McDonald’s or sweet treats? Do you set an example for your kids by making healthy meals and encouraging family exercise every day?
There are lots of excuses out there: “I work two jobs, so it’s tough for me to put a meal on the table every night. Fast food is my only option.” “I’m taking care of three small kids. I don’t always have time or the strength to prepare healthy meals.” “Using only fresh ingredients to make meals every day is way too expensive.” “I get plenty of exercise just doing my job. The last thing I want to do is go home and exercise.”

Your kids depend on you for everything. If you have a fat child, please take an honest look at the lifestyle you’re promoting. If you’re honest, you’ll know whether you’re at fault for the heartache your child lives with every moment. I know change isn’t easy, but if you love your child, you’ll do your research, make healthier meals and get moving as a family.

Most important? Please don’t add to the shame and criticism your child is experiencing outside the home. Even if you think you’re being gentle and saying something for her own good, I promise you’re just making things worse. The life of a fat kid is tough enough without her feeling she isn’t good enough for her own parents.

If there’s fat in your family, your whole family’s lifestyle needs to change, not just your child’s. Here are a few Web sites that can help:

Strong for Life
Together Counts
Supersized Kids
Eat Drink Better

One last thing—Nothing tastes as good as being thin (and healthy!) feels. Do whatever it takes to guide your children toward a lifetime of health and happiness. After all, isn’t that what every parent dreams of?

Susan Hawkins is a writer for Corner Stork Baby Gifts, a leading online retailer of affordable, boutique-style baby gifts, baby clothes, gift baskets, personalized baby gifts, sibling gifts and more.

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