01119 Childhood obesity-is physical activity an answer to the problem?
A grandparent’s guide to helping their grandchild overcome obesity. Background information
In many of the industrialized and underdeveloped countries around the world, obesity in our children is reaching epidemic proportions. This emerging problem is directly attributed to the increased time they spend setting and watching a ‘screen’ of some sort, which automatically results in loss of physical activity. In other words, our kids are on their butts too long and too much. So, what is the answer, short of pulling the plug, which in my estimation should have done long ago? Here it is in a nutshell: Get them active!
Pretty simple sounding advice isn’t it. But how, you may be asking, do I go about doing that with my grandchild? Before getting into that aspect of the problem, take a moment to consider these facts and figures. There’s more.
Studies taken from the past thirty years clearly show a dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity, for example in girls aged 6-11 it went up 106 %, in boys of the same age, it was 108%.
Taking a snapshot look at the beginning teen years shows an even more shocking trend in the boys aged 12-17. Obesity is up 146%! This is a time when MAJOR neuromuscular functions are developing including agility, balance, coordination and muscular strength. The girls in this age bracket were much lower comparatively speaking at 46%-still too high as far as I am concerned.
Now let’s compare the time spent in front of television during these sensitive growing years. This is taken form a study by Gortmaker et al. 1996 (it is somewhat outdated but nonetheless shows the trends beginning even back then.) Obesity was up 10% for those in front of a TV for up to two hours a day, and continued to rise up to about 23% for the children who watched up to three hours a day. It kept climbing higher as the hours setting watching increased. 29% @3-4 hours; 30% @ 4-5 and more than five hours it was nearly 35%. Now how in the world can anyone set for beyond five hours and watch TV?
Some of the diverse reasons behind this rise in inactivity by these kids include being made fun of by their peers, being called ugly or thinking, they are ugly. The result is they do not participate in social or sport activities. Team sports requiring running or jumping places the obese grandchild at a distinct disadvantage so they tend to avoid these sports altogether.