For years I’ve seen Terios in my community. You know; the funny, cute and obese kid on the block. They’re always the center of attention during cookouts and block parties. Usually getting praised for their wit, their dancing skills or annihilating two adult size plates. Here’s the thing: jokes are cute. We want to endorse laughter and happiness. Dancing is cute. We want to encourage fun physical activity. An already alarmingly obese child eating two adult servings of food is NEVER cute. The idea of praising kids for a clean plate is detrimental to our children. Forcing kids to eat when they are full is dangerous to them mentally and physically. Overeating can cause food addiction and could attribute to the child’s current obesity. I understand we work hard to provide things like food and shelter for our children. We don’t want to see food wasted. That is totally logical but what’s even more logical is learning your kids’ eating behaviors.
But let me slow down a bit.
Before I discuss prevention, let’s discuss childhood obesity. Childhood obesity can lead to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, hormonal imbalance and depression. These things follow kids into adulthood. We need to end it here because If you haven’t noticed there are more obese and unhealthy kids in the black community than others.
23.9 million children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese; 33.0% of boys and 30.4% of girls. 10.6% for non-Hispanic blacks, Obesity is more common in boys than girls (19 percent versus 15 percent). Obesity rates in boys increased significantly between 2010 and 2011, especially among non-Hispanic black boys; but obesity rates in girls of all ages and ethnic groups have stayed largely the same. Hispanic (21 percent) and non-Hispanic black (24 percent) youth have higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic white youth (14 percent), a continuing trend. Data derived from Health, United States, 2011 National Center for Health Statistics.
The balderdash behind blaming a kid for his own fatness and referring to a child as “fat” is mean, hurtful, and could easily tiptoe on the line of bullying and verbal abuse. Let me paint a picture: Imagine you’re 7 yrs old and an adult is constantly telling you to “sit your lil’ fat ass down somewhere”- don’t feel so good right? Adult influence is a determent.
Environment – Is there access to local parks where children can play and get active? Are their more fast-food choices then there are grocery stores and farmer’s markets?
Lifestyle – Is the family active as a whole? Do they spend quality time together? Do they eat dinner together at a table or in front of the TV?
Genetics – Is my child exposed to the “fat” gene? Is there a history of obesity in my family?
Economics – Do I have monies set aside just for monthly food expenses? How can I get my child insurance cheaper? Where do I apply for governmental aid to provide for my family?
Society – Is the media endorsing unhealthy living or a false sense of what healthy looks like? Are advertising companies specifically targeting people of color? Are their outreach programs that encourage healthy living in your community?
All of the answers to these questions will be your determents.
In this fast paced day and age, it is extremely easy and convenient to feed your children fast food, chips, candies and high-fructose drinks and stick them in front of a television with the remote in their hands. I am NOT shaming.
I believe most parents mean well. Besides, this epidemic is going to continue to increase at monstrous rates if we continue to blame instead of executing an action plan.
Here are 10 tips to help fight childhood obesity:
- Whether you expect your child is obese or you are trying to prevent it remember, a child perceives himself/herself through the eyes of the parents and their environment. So, be careful. Do not ever let a child feel that you see him/her differently even if they are obese.
- If your child is obese explain to them their condition and have an open conversation. If you are uncomfortable have the discussion with the child’s pediatrician.
- Be a positive example. Set the tone in your household. If you stay active, and eat healthy then your child will follow suit.
- Replace junk food with fruits and other fun, functional foods. -Things like low sodium vegetable chips, ice pops made with frozen fruit, fun wraps made with lean protein For more on functional foods and shopping on a budget, read this article http://soultrain.com/2013/01/14/10-tips-to-eating-healthy-on-a-budget/
- Family dinner is a MUST! Allowing your kids to help prepare family dinner helps them make healthy food choice and build their confidence.
- Limit the time they spend on video games and television.
- Stay active and plan physical activities as a family. Whether it’s bike riding, rock climbing, skating or just a fun family exercise program; do it together.
- Keep a food journal for your family’s meal planning.
- Regular checkups and doctor visit is important in keeping your child healthy. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. There are a lot of Dieticians, Nutritionist and Fitness experts that offers programs just for adolescents. http://kidshealth.org/
- Acknowledge your child’s successes. A High-five and “I’m proud of you” go a long way. Remain positive through it all!
The approach you use is totally up to you as a parent but remember to make the healthy lifestyle fun and desirable for your children.
We play the most important role in our children’s lives; even Terio’s life. Despite how we may feel about his recent fame we should remember he is still a child. Be mindful of the comments you leave on his social networking pages. We don’t want to “ooh kill em” with our words. Let’s encourage positive change.
How do you think we can prevent and end childhood obesity? Feel free to comment below