Food for Thought

Food for Thought
Lindsey Scott
ENG 122
Ms. Tina Miller
June 25, 2012

Food for Thought
After researching the board topic of Childhood Obesity there are many factors to this rising problem. The effect of parent??™s jobs, involvement with their children, home life, health and today??™s food prices have a direct effect on the children. It has become easy for parents to put the blame on fast food and school lunch programs. Yet they are the ones with the direct connection with their child??™s health. This research will show details, stats and information proving that parents are leaning on the easy way instead of adjusting to food industries prices and today??™s economy. It is time for parent??™s to look at themselves and use the resources that are available to help budget and plan a healthy lifestyle for the next generations. Enough is enough; parental laziness is causing innocent children to not only be teased in school, have low self-esteem, but be at risk of long term health problems.
Young children are very influential and copy what they see their parents do. Giving them microwave meals and fast food is easy for parents that are tired after work and not wanting to spend the time making a healthy meal. The number of obese children has skyrocketed. Just in preschool aged children, 1 out of 7 children are obese. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) These parents need to put aside their own needs and take responsibility in raising kids knowing how important it is to eat the right things. Since the economy has taken such a huge hit and jobs are harder to find, it is taking a toll on the children??™s health. Fast food is cheap, healthy organic foods that should be eaten are outrageously priced. People have to put the nutritious value of food in the back of their mind and go off of what they can afford for that meal. ???In the United States, the number of overweight children and adolescents has doubled in the last two to three decades??? (Deckelbaum, 2001). Rich or poor, a child deserves the chance to live a full, health issue free life. Parents with lower paying jobs should be budgeting in these healthy foods instead of buying larger quantities of junk food.
Parents are finding it easier to occupy their children with these devices and the television than go out and be active with them. By doing this the children not only do not get the one on one attention from their parents but also tend to eat more unhealthy snacks during television time. The commercials for fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods are almost nonexistent. Children are so impressionable and vulnerable. These are the years that parents should be shaping the children for life. The eating habits they are taught while young will shape how they care for themselves when older and also tend to pass along to their children. Statistics showed ???2003??“2006, 32% of the US children were classified as obese or overweight, and increasing trends in childhood obesity are seen all over the world. These results are especially alarming as overweight children show a high risk of becoming obese adults??? (Silventoinen, 2010). What people do not see if that the way they feed their children and teach them about nutrition will have a lasting impression on them. Parents are supposed to want the absolute best for their children, yet their weight and the health issues that come along with being obese have been pushed aside.
Children channels on the television should take the next generations more seriously and step up with helping find a solution to childhood obesity. An interesting piece of research is in ???Television food advertising: counterproductive to childrens health A content analysis using the Australian Guide to Health Eating??™. It states, ???544 food advertisements: 21% percent for core foods; and 79% for non-core foods??? and ???fast foods, chocolate and confectionery made up almost 50% of food advertisements shown on television.??? (Zuppa, 2003). So when parents put their small children in front of a television for hours so they aren??™t bothered, most of what they are taking in is the want for fast foods. Children see other kids happy with these unhealthy meals and want to partake in the fun. Luckily Disney has started stepping up by banning unhealthy commercials on their channels and taking the characters off foods that do not meet nutritional standards (Goldwent, This will hopefully take out an amount of impression on children who spend large quantities of time in front of the television.
There are plenty of ways for parents to step up and get help. Systems and organizations such as NuVal and WIC are there to help. When at the grocery store most people go off of the price tag when trying to decide between products. NuVal shows parents that changing their budget to fit healthy food is possible. They need to take the time to look at the nutritional value. With NuVal, next to the price will be a number, 1-100, the closer to 100 the healthier the product ( These parents are perfectly capable of actually looking and figuring out what is and isn??™t healthy. WIC is based off of income and how many people are in the home. They provide low income families with milk, cheese, eggs, formula, and other healthy foods (Women, Infant, and Children). By seeking their help, not only could low income parents provide healthy food for their kids but it wouldn??™t be as stressful. These are resources out there that can help keep children healthy no matter the social standing.
Through researching WIC they have a list of ???top 10 ways to grow happy kids???. They are, let them decide how much to eat, present healthy foods as ???treats??™, offer water instead of juice, include a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal, serve low fat milk to children over two, use mealtime to strengthen family ties, lead by example ??“ walk the talk, create activities ??“ for you and them ??“ every day, provide attention instead of food, encourage and praise their efforts. (Women, Infant, Children) Most of that list is just telling the parents to be involved, pay attention and interact with their children. Parents have shifted their focus to only work and wear themselves down leaving no time or energy for their kids. Supporting research stated that ???parent feeding is related to the development of children??™s food preferences and how parents modify their children??™s food preferences by using sweets as rewards and pressuring their children to eat their fruits and vegetables??? (Birch & Fisher; Birch & Krahnstoever-Davison). Yet another finding showing that parents are shaping their children for unhealthy lifestyles.
Yes genetics can take part in a child being obese. But just like everything else it can be avoided if parents eat healthy themselves and show that healthy foods are just as ???yummy??™. It is shown that ???families who are obese put their children at risk by structuring their environment to include high fat diets and low energy expenditure??? (Birch & Fisher, 1998; Birch & Krahnstoever-Davison). But these genes are altered as the child matures. A healthy diet and active lifestyle can ???train??? these genes and help maintain a lower body mass index (BMI) in adulthood. As stated in a scholar journal, ???genetic factors have an important role in childhood obesity also, but their role may be different or they may result from other genes than those that operate in adulthood??? (Silventoinen, 2010).
The way the family lives and the standards the parents put for the children are more important and preventable than the genetics. In the International Journal of Obesity it states ???parents and their offspring live together and where siblings obviously have a much greater opportunity to be exposed to the same environment; for example, poor socio-economic family background has been found to be associated with the risk of obesity in children, demonstrating the importance of childhood social environment, and the greater role of the shared environment in childhood has also been suggested in adoption studies??? (Parsons, 2009) If a family makes large unhealthy meals it shows those children that portion control and nutrition are not important. Or if the child says they are full and done eating, they are not supposed to be forced to finish their plate. That teaches them to over eat.
Children who have parents that feed them large amounts of junk food and do not motivate them to be healthy are setting them up for very dangerous health issues. In a research journal it states ???Elevated blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and a higher prevalence of factors associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes appear as frequent comorbidities in the overweight and obese pediatric population??? (Deckelbaum, 2001). These are not the only health issues cause by a poor diet. By giving their children soda and other sugar drinks they can develop bad dental health. Parents aren??™t looking at the big picture. They are looking for the easy way for right now. If it ends the fight of what to eat and makes the kid happy they do it. Whether it is healthy or not. That is the biggest problem. ???Obesity in childhood, particularly in adolescence, is a key predictor for obesity in adulthood??? (Williams, 2001). So not only will these children develop diabetes but they will have it for life. And if they don??™t develop it while young, the eating habits they have learned from lazy parents will certain cause it later in life.
This topic, Childhood Obesity, is most definitely fixable. Innocent children rely on their parents to teach them and raise them the right way. There is no reason a child shouldn??™t be able to keep up with their running classmates because they are obese. I am very excited and interested in the research that is to come for me. Finding out why America is at its highest rate for obesity is not hard. Now finding out what it is going to take to get the parents to realize it is neither the media nor the food industries but the way they are raising their children is the hard part. These parents can help and protect their children overcome the battle with obesity, they are just too lazy to change.

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