A lot is currently be said about what we can do to reduce increasing childhood obesity. Most of the blame seems to have be laid at Fast Food companies and advertising junk food on children's television. I don't go that way. I think the problem is systemic and a product of many factors around life in the 21st century.
More busy lifestyle by parents. Increased proportion of both parents workingKids are getting fatter for the same reason anyone puts on weight, they input more calories than they output. Weight control is about balancing your food intake with your energy expenditure, if you eat more food you need to do more activity. The reasons behind poor child weight nowdays are myriad. Here's some of the excuses, reasons:
- Lack of education on Nutrition
- Smaller house blocks
- 'Sociopaths' (ok maybe not sociopaths, but more less-desirables) on the rise and a lack of "community" makes parents more cautious about letting their kids play down the local parks that have been provided in the estates they live (shared space now instead of private space - see previous point).
- Children are being bombarded with "junk food" advertising.
- Shift in the way people socialise and communicate, this includes children and teenagers. i.e. the rise of social networking.
- Move away from Communities in favour of precincts, such as the CBD, industrial areas, residential areas, and so on.
- Parents unwillingness to accept responsibility for their children!
Ok, so with those written down, what can we do and what should we be doing as parents and members of the wider community to combat childhood Obesity, which obviously leads to adult obesity, poor health, rising hospital costs, and all the rest?
- Make parents more accountable and responsible for the childs health. I'm sick of parents blaming the media and the corporations for the kids weight. Ultimately the buck stops with the parent. They need to ensure their children are eating healthily and are getting the minerals they need to function and learn. The problem I see is that parents are lazy. Free short courses on nutrition probably won't help. What about online training offered as a session (or more) that can be complete in an hour or two. I'd like to see a website (.gov.au) that is regularly promoted on television that offers a portal into child health issues. There are plenty of health related sites around but I think this needs to be better publicised
- This won't go down well with Teachers, but how about we make the school day an hour longer and provide an hour of free sports training or at a minimum, physical activity. The government should be throwing more money at this. Many kids are in after school care anyway, so lets keep them at school longer and strongly encourage them to be active! It doesn't have to be regular Teachers providing the sport coaching, Community volunteers, like the Mum's and Dad's who don't work could give up their time on a rotating roster. Who knows, it might even help their weight.
- Other issues are less direct, such as increasing the minimum allowable house block, to help provide space for kids to play and be active. Lets also return to working where we live, or least within a 15-20 minute walk. We need a more "community" community.