It is not news that obesity is a growing health care problem in North America and much attention is now focused on the increasing rate of obesity occurring in children. That attention, of course, is a good thing and is being helped by the efforts of the wife of the President of the United States, Michelle Obama with her recently announced initiative “Let’s Move”, with its objective of eliminating obesity in children within a generation.
The Michelle Obama campaign and the new “Task Force on Childhood Obesity” appointed by President Obama brings dual fresh efforts to bear on promoting a healthier lifestyle for children through dietary improvements and increased activity, the simplest and usually the most effective treatment of type-2 diabetes and related blood sugar conditions.
It is estimated that already one third of American children are overweight or obese and the Center for Disease Control reports that one in every three children now being born will have diabetes in their lifetime and often with many of the typical complications associated with the disease as it develops.
Once obesity exists it is especially important to deal with it early to prevent the further development to prediabetes and diabetes, both conditions in which higher than normal blood sugar levels circulate in the body, potentially causing damage to the child’s growing organs and tissues. And uncontrolled type-2 diabetes can lead to many serious health complications and will shorten the natural lifespan
Childhood obesity is not only an American issue, the world is experiencing a growing crisis with obesity levels soaring especially in those countries that have similar comparatively affluent lifestyles that can afford fast foods rich in calories from fat and sugars and where the entertainment of choice does not involve physical activity.
Not all children are obese or overweight, but those that are, deserve help and guidance
Where it does exist and can be seen in families, schools, ethnic groups, wherever, it is an urgent problem. Apart from the humanitarian perspective, the health care costs alone will be overwhelming. It is time that everyone concerned with the health and welfare of children, recognize what has to be confronted, which is to adopt an improved diet and a change in the sedentary life style that has become normal for many of today’s children.
Today’s busy world has brought changes. It is a shame that traffic and other possible hazards make parents understandably reluctant to allow their children to walk or cycle to school, one missing exercise element from the common ways of past generations. But there are still many opportunities for children to engage in supervised physical activities for recreation and sport. The objective is to expend some energy, whether it be one hour a day or more, the effort taken today will pay off for the future.
With informed and well-trained teachers to guide children and parents towards better food choices and eating habits, and with improved nutrition in school meals together with an understanding of simple nutrition and health principles in general, perhaps the rate of growth in obesity can be slowed.
But parents should not depend only on government and school programs to put us on the road to recovery. Sympathetic family efforts and understanding may be necessary to encourage those who are overweight to change their ways. If you have a child or relative who is becoming overweight and heading toward obesity, your knowledge, understanding and action is needed to successfully avert the situation. It can change their life for the better, how rewarding for everyone that would be.