Childhood obesity is a fast-growing epidemic that is capturing national media attention and captivating the medical community and, predictably, politicians.

A national task force has even been created to identify potential solutions to the problem.

Just in case you have not heard, here are some of the facts:

More than 50% of American children do not achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
Between 15 and 20% of American children are overweight or obese (meaning approximately 10 million American children are developing risk factors for chronic illnesses very early in life. Research tells us this will be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than ours!).

This past September was the first-ever National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Sounds like a great initiative…but is it? Why are American children overweight and obese? Perhaps they are simply following in our footsteps.

Check out some of the adult obesity statistics in America:

67% of Americas are overweight or obese
Nine out of 10 Americans will be overweight at one point in their life
Weight-related illnesses are exceeding the rates of diseases from smoking
More than 50% of adult Americans do not achieve the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity daily
370,000-plus Americans die of obesity related diseases each year!
Direct obesity related costs exceed $150 billion dollars each year, making obesity the number one health care expense in our country!

Do we really think we can have healthy children and unhealthy adults?

Are we asking our CHILDREN to serve as role models?

As a local health and fitness leader, I’m familiar with the reasons parents provide for why their children are obese. I hear all too often, “I can’t get my child away from the video games,” or, “I’d like to get my child off the couch, but he gets mad at me when I ask him to play outside” or, “we’re simply too busy with activities to cook meals at home on even a semi-regular basis.” Or, “they don’t eat unhealthily at home…it must be school lunch or the vending machines full of junk food.” Or, “we can’t afford to eat healthily.” The truth is…you can’t afford not too!

There’s no doubt the world is different than it was 40 years ago and that families are faced with more difficult challenges when it comes to managing their time, households and resources.

We do have choices, however, and providing our families with healthy meals, packing healthy lunches and choosing family activities that promote health and wellness must be a priority.

We need to take a long hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that we don’t just have a childhood obesity epidemic; we have an obesity problem in adults and our priorities have gotten misaligned.

It is time to take responsibility for our own health and accept responsibility as role models for our children.

As we enter the holiday season I encourage you to invest some family time in discussing wellness and whole health. The new year is right around the corner. With it comes a sense of renewal and rebirth—in other words, the perfect time to adopt some new behaviors and get back to some basic family priorities.

According to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, “the factor that puts children at the greatest risk of being overweight is having obese parents.”

Study after study confirms one irrefutable fact: children of healthy and active parents tend to be active and healthy themselves.

Period. End of story.


Kim's Corner

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