Childhood Obesity Doesn't Have to be a Problem

Childhood Obesity Doesn't Have to be a Problem
By: Mary-Ann Maloney

It's no secret that America is on the fast track to fat. Now our children are following in our footsteps.

Within four years, it's projected that nearly half of American children will be overweight. With excess weight comes a myriad of health problems including stroke, heart disease and type two diabetes.

Sarah Ross, a nurse practitioner with a Cape Girardeau pediatrician's office, says they're seeing more and more kids who are overweight and are now testing some kids for high cholesterol levels. Ross says that by the time those children reach their sixties or seventies, they'll be facing multiple diseases.

It's a trend fueled by fast food and sedentary lifestyles. For whatever reason, kids are spending too much time inside watching TV, playing video games, on the computer and snacking on junk food.

Mom and dad may be at work or in denial that there is a problem. Tobie O'Brien, a nurse who works with Sarah Ross, says denial is a big part of the issue.

If parents are overweight and don't notice it, how will they see it in their kids? It's a subject that most people don't want to talk about and when it comes to their kids, they really don't want to talk about it.

But O'Brien insists that if we are to curb this frightening epidemic, the entire family must be involved. Parents have to lead by example. Choose healthy foods, exercise and get your child outside.

You don't have to run five miles, just be active. Take a walk in the park, fly a kite, even play hopscotch. You're trying to teach your child a habit. If you make some sort of exercise a part of your daily lives, your child will too when he grows older.

Some doctors believe that we're raising a generation of children that will actually have a lower life expectancy than their parents.

It's a global epidemic. One that affects kids in china, south america and europe too. As our societies have become more efficient, we've become more sedentary.

Tim and Lisa Mirly in Jackson are raising their three children like they were raised. The two oldest, Grace and Ethan, walk a mile home from school every day. Their family activities, be it taking a walk or weeding the garden, involve everyone. Healthy snacks are available instead of sugary or fatttening ones. They're determined to raise their children with healthy habits.

It's not out of reach for anyone. If you think your child is carrying too much weight, talk to your pediatrician about what you can do. You can tackle the problem as a family and together live longer, healthier lives.