It’s a downward spiral. Childhood obesity is fast becoming a nationwide epidemic, and the physical and psychological effects of being overweight can last a lifetime. While the issue of weight problems in children has become a “hot-button” topic throughout the news media, far too many families don’t have adequate information or resources when it comes to teaching their kids healthy eating and fitness habits.
It’s certainly not easy being a kid in today’s complex culture where children have it tougher than their parents did, health-wise. Not only do they have to negotiate any number of social landmines at school, but overweight and obese children also have challenges, social and otherwise, far beyond those for typical adolescents. Today’s overweight kids, of which there are many, more frequently have to deal with the discrimination of their peers and scrutiny from adults.
What we all must understand is that placing – and displacing – blame doesn’t lessen a child’s suffering, nor does it make a child any healthier. And, we must not simply resign ourselves to believing that genetics are accountable for a child’s weight problem and, therefore, do nothing. Rather, we must teach America’s kids to navigate through society’s overabundance of and easy access to junk foods and fast foods, and to make sound choices regarding their nutrition and fitness. Parents lobbying for more physical education courses at school is a good start, but is simply not enough.
As with adults, there is no quick, easy weight loss fix for children. In order to solve a child’s weight problem, parents need to help the child help him or her self, by modifying and managing dietary intake, physical activity and lifestyle behaviors. They must also seek out resources that can help their child start making small lifestyle changes RIGHT NOW that, combined, will lead to big results. Solutions do not need to be the result of clinical trials or doctorate level dissertations. There are many new products on the marketplace today that have come about at the grassroots level by Americans who are not only concerned about the state of kids’ health throughout America, but have decided to take action:As the author of “It’s Not Your Fault That You’re Overweight – A Story of Enlightenment, Empowerment and Accomplishment for Overweight and Obese Kids” (www.notfault.com), I happen to be among those offering a new and unique resource, not only for those kids struggling with weight issues, but also those within a healthy weight range to stay motivated to continue making wise lifestyle choices and to better understand and empathize with peers currently struggling with a weight problem.eDiets.com’s personalized online Trim Kids(TM) Plan is yet another fantastic solution to help parents of overweight teach their children healthy eating and exercise habits that can last them a lifetime. With a personalized meal plan, fitness guidance and expert support, you can’t go wrong.Fitwize 4 Kids (www.fitwize4kids.com), a national chain of children’s gymnasiums that promote adolescent physical fitness, health and wellness, is another new resource that I applaud. The company’s unique approach combines fitness and fun through methods specifically designed for kids’ ages 6.5 to 15. Fitwize 4 Kids programs increase self-esteem and teach children how to implement proper nutrition and exercise habits in their ever day lives.Grandma’s Healthy Kids Club (www.grandmashealthykidsclub.com) is another wonderful resource rife with tools to help kids get healthy. From “Yum Yum Dishes” – fun, hand painted dishes that help teach kids portion control, to adolescent exercise videos, to pedometers and other equipment for kids, to an array of child health books, Grandma – 61 year old Bev Grey from Indianapolis, Indiana.- is most certainly doing her part, and are efforts that I wholeheartedly support.Another great front-line solution is “Thumbs Up for Healthy Living” – an educational program that promotes nutrition education, physical activity, and home-learning based activities designed to promote student wellness. Guided by the playful character known as Skipper the Thumbs Up guy, children learn about proper nutrition, good eating habits and a basic fitness program in a language they can understand. The program features the patent pending EZ-Rope(TM) Classic (www.ezrope.net) – the jump rope without the middle(TM) that allows children to get the fitness benefit of jumping rope but without the difficulty, as well as a Thumbs Up For Healthy Living Interactive Workbook, Total Conditioning Cardio with EZ-Rope DVD, and Thumbs Up Thermal Lunch Bags among other resources.Leave it to a former NAVY SEAL Instructor and ACE Certified Personal Trainer to take health matters into his own hands; Phil Black’s FitDeck® Jr. (www.fitdeck.com) is an ever-changing 50-card deck of exercises for children ages 5 – 16 years old. The fun, kid-friendly exercises call for basic body movements and require no equipment whatsoever.
These are just a few of the many examples of sound and relatively inexpensive products that can help families get on track in short order. Parents and children, themselves, need to act now, as America’s kids are at risk for the many complications of overweight and obesity. This is no small problem, as obesity is known to contribute to devastating diseases and emotional depression. For the health of our nation and all of our futures, we must provide our children with the basics: the knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle and both the desire – and the tools – to do just that.