Child Obesity: Who Should Take Responsibility?

Child Obesity: Who Should Take Responsibility?

Child obesity who should take responsibility

Eat all and whatever you desire … then pop this quick fix diet pill and you will slim down.‘ Frightening thought! This was something I heard in the news a few months ago about obese children. The question is, “can the damages already done to the body, by eating all the junk foods, be reversed so easily?”

According to a news report in The Huffington Post (April 6 2009), a new study by Ohio State-Temple University says almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese. The study suggests that overall, more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese.”

Another updated report (2 September 2009) in BBC states, “The number of under-18s in the UK being prescribed weight-loss drugs rose 15-fold between 1999 and 2006.” Not to mention that these drugs are licensed only for adults.

In the book ‘Food, Inc,’ Robert Wood Johnson Foundation wrote, “Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States. Over the past three decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than four times among children ages six to eleven.

If we do not do something about this rising trend, our children will end up with higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, joint diseases and other obesity related problems like pulmonary problems, type II diabetes, psychological (self esteem, confidence issues, and depression) etc. Not only that, obese adolescents are much more likely to become obese adults. Thus these health problems will follow them through their lives.

It is important to prevent childhood obesity not only because of the above mentioned health problems, but also because of the financial strain it causes in the economy. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Childhood obesity alone carries a huge price tag – up to $14 billion annually in direct health-care costs.” Isn’t this another important reason for us to look into this seriously?

To reverse this rising trend, you guess it, we need to lead by example. We need to change both our lifestyles and the food that we are feeding them and ourselves. Remember “Children See, Children Do?

In changing our lifestyles, we need to involve children in more outdoor games and activities that will make them sweat and move around. Be creative and remember to make it fun for them. End of the day, these games and activities will benefit you too.

The next part is changing the foods that we are feeding them and ourselves. As the saying goes, “We are what we eat.”

Quoting something from Dr. Marion Nestle, a doctorate in molecular biology and a master’s in public health nutrition, both from the University of California, Berkeley:

“…basic dietary principles are not in dispute: eat less (means to consume fewer calories); move more (need to balance calorie intake with physical activity); eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and avoid too much junk food (highly processed sweets and snacks laden with salt, sugars, and artificial additives).”

Last but not least, since children are spending a lot of their time in school, school has to make sure that the foods that are served to the children meet healthy standard too.

It is the responsibilities of both school and us to ensure the good health of children. With this combine effort, we can definitely reverse the rising trend of child obesity.

Updated: 14 December 2010

Photo Credit: Stefano Chiarelli Photography
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28 thoughts on “Child Obesity: Who Should Take Responsibility?

  1. housewife9988

    From my personal experience, obesity is rather the work of over eating. If a mother feeds the child with over amount of food, he/she will continue to take bigger amount when he/she grows older and moreover, once the cells are changed, it would be difficult to come back to the normal cells. But at times, it is the situation when a child simply eats junky food outside home.. it contributes to obesity too..
    For the school authority to intervene on this, they must set high standard of food preparation in their school canteens but with this type of evil society, many canteen vendors search for money than good health for little children.. !
    .-= housewife9988´s last blog ..a month ago.. @# 2day.. (jst 1 mth old..) =-.

  2. Bern

    I believe that what we eat is beyond food. We consume energy on many levels. We also digest thoughts and feelings. However, if the feelings are not processed as they occur, or if there is no outlet to release thoughts and feelings that people say we shouldn’t, then we store it in our energy fields and therefore our bodies. We are buldging with feelings waiting to be expressed. That is why it is also so good to be active with the children so that we can help them burn off those lingering repressions of the past through talk and interactions that encourage self expression and creativity. As a society we have to encourage speech beyond our prefererences of politically correct or of what we think is good and bad. We require the act of love and listening where the world can easily flow into children and can just as easily flow out of children.
    .-= Bern´s last blog ..Pacific Crest Trail 2009 ~ part 4 =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Housewife9988, you are right. There were a lot of times when parents tended to overfeed their children simply because they wanted to make sure that their children were really full. As what Dr. Marion Nestle said, the amount of food need to balance with the amount of physical activity for the children. If they are often overfed, chances of them being obese will be much greater. Although we can control the what children eat to a large extent at home, we would not be able to do that when they are outside. So it is important to influence them with the right eating habits too.

      About the part on the school, it can indeed be a challenge to monitor the food vendors especially when some are just out to make money. If only they can relate the children in the school to their own children, then it may change for the better.

      @ Bern, you have touched on a valid point here. I have often heard how people are snacking, even though they may not be hungry, because they are feeling stressed or depressed. This could lead to overeating and without a proper physical outlet, the extra food will be stored in the body. Thus it is important to encourage one to speak up and not to suppress his/her feeling.

  3. Shu Fen

    I saw this and immediately thought of my brother.

    He’s overweight though not yet obese.

    I think that both him and my parents contribute to his weight… He’s naturally greedy, and always tries to finish any “good” food (ice cream, chips.etc), even my portion of it, before I come back. I think my parents are also partly to blame because they are inconsistent regarding this issue. They will nag at him to eat less but still buy sweet drinks and snacks for him…. -.-

    On a side note, I read somewhere than weight correlates to intelligence. People who are intelligent are less likely to be overweight and vice versa. What is your take on this?
    .-= Shu Fen´s last blog ..I Made It To MENSA =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Shu Fen, I believe most people were greedy once when they were young. 🙂
      You have made a very good point about parents. Most parents will naturally want to give the best to their children or to provide for their children whatever they did not have when they were young. All these care and concern could very well do harm to children at time; we start to see another generation of children who are pampered and tend to take things for granted. In this case, your parents must be consistent; they must speak and act as one. I believe if they know the detrimental effects that are related to obesity, they will not be so quick to indulge in buying your brother sweet drinks and snacks.

      As for the point on weight correlating to intelligence … this is something interesting. Instead of saying people who are intelligent are less likely to be overweight, I would say they exercise more of their common sense. They know what is good to them and are disciplined in following through. Some people are just more discipline and have more self-control than others. 🙂

      @ Will, I will be looking forward to find out the culprit. 🙂

  4. Will

    Good points all and factors in the epidemic to be sure. There is another culprit in childhood obesity. It is rather difficult to explain in a comment, but I am finishing up a post that I will publish this week. I’ll link back here to your post when it is done. I thing you will be surprised.

    .-= Will´s last blog ..Congressman + Baby = Health Care Embarrassment =-.

  5. Jude

    It is the parents responsibility to make sure their children are taught early about nutrition and exercise and as you point out they learn by example. That also means in all areas of life if you call your children names they also more than likely will follow suite. We as adults need to be very careful with our actions.
    .-= Jude´s last blog ..Can You Quit Your Day Job? =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Maria, I couldn’t agree more with you; that control and good habits should be taught young.

      @ Jude, parents certainly play an important role. They should lead by example to eat right and to be physically active. We as adults really need to watch our actions.

  6. Tina T

    I am always surprised by how many obese children there are, because we seem to be more aware of the importance of proper nutrition than precious generations. Obviously we’re having problems putting all our knowledge about health into practice in our everyday lives and those of our children.
    .-= Tina T´s last blog ..When Should You Get Married? =-.

  7. The Fitness Diva

    I covered this same topic a few months ago in my post “Child Obesity – Whose Fault Is it?”

    Obviously the problem still continues to persist and grow!

    I’m hoping that the advent of new interactive and physical video games like the Wii and whatever that dancing game is called (where you have to match the computer move for move, and step for step)
    help kids to rediscover the joys of being physically active.

    and yes, many parents out here need to step up to the plate and address their own eating issues – they’re passing the unhealthy legacy right on down to their kids. How many times have you seen where the entire family is morbidly obese; both parents and all of the kids? This doesn’t happen by accident, and the parents have to stop making excuses for it and do the right thing.

    I was just on the train the other day and saw a family of 4 adults (they all had the same facial features, so I knew) and they were all 300+ lbs apiece. So large that they had to begin preparing to get up out of their seats way before the train pulled into their stop. I was like, “whoa”! When did this type of existence become normal for some?

    More personal responsiblity needs to start being taken now. kids will see you doing the healthy thing and copy you. That’s usually the way it goes! 😉
    .-= The Fitness Diva´s last blog ..The Fit and Sexy……. Shakira! =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Tina, well it seems that in our concerns for children, we tend to overlook and overfeed them. We do have to watch what we are feeding them. The best thing to do is to start watching what we are feeding ourselves too. We should be leading by example.

      @ The Fitness Diva, indeed the problem seems to persist and grow. It is a vicious cycle. If we don’t watch our children healths, they will tend to be sick regularly and in the end we will need to spend more money to bring them to the doctor. However, if we start watching our own diet and what we are feeding them, there is a high chance that they will be in good health and the chances of them falling sick will be much lower too. And yes, children as well as adult both need to get more physically active to help them keep fit and healthy.

  8. meleah rebeccah

    Okay, I’m sure I am going to piss a lot of people off with this comment, but as far as WHO IS TO BLAME?

    It’s the parents.

    And speaking AS A PARENT, I know it’s MY responsibility to teach my child how to eat right and exercise.

    In fact, I think its a form of CHILD ABUSE for parents that allow their children to become obese.
    .-= meleah rebeccah´s last blog ..‘Flour’ Power =-.

  9. Maria

    The number of obese children keep on growing. Partly, parents are to blame. They should be responsible for teaching their children to eat the right foods.

    When they go out of the house is a problem too. The temptation to eat unhealthy food is so strong especially when they see their friends enjoying it.

  10. Lisa's Chaos

    It’s true! We all need to be more responsible for guiding our kids. 🙂 And ourselves, actually, society is not pointing us in the right direction. I changed my eating habits in January, lost 65 lbs, and still struggle to maintain the right path daily.
    .-= Lisa’s Chaos´s last blog ..Click =-.

  11. Eren Mckay

    I don’t know if the “blame game” is going to change things. I believe that there are many factors that will cause obesity including genetic factors and slow metabolism.
    We need to be aware of what we can do to help parents and children with this so important health issue.
    Some parents have dire working circumstances,elderly parents, need to work many jobs,etc. There are so many factors that play into this. Parents have way too much on them nowadays. So I prefer to not judge but encourage and support. (By the way I don’t believe that you are judging but other people are)
    .-= Eren Mckay´s last blog ..Ways to meet and make friends online =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Meleah, you are most right. Parents have an important part to play in the well-being of children. You put forth an interesting idea, the part about abuse. It does seem that some parents are indirectly or subconsciously ‘abusing’ their children by overfeeding them. Their love has done more harm than good.

      @ Christine, your passion for exercise will surely be passed on to your children too. As for eating habits, we can improve … one step at a time. Since you are involving your kids in sports now, how about involving them to think about healthy eating. To prompt them to come out with creative ideas how all of you can eat healthy. It should be quite fun.

      @ Maria, it is quite a concern to see the number rising. The best thing parents can do are to eat right themselves. If they do, they will leave little option for the children to eat unhealthy food. Of course peer pressure can be a factor too especially when the children are out of the house with their friends. However, if they are taught right, their urge to eat unhealthy food can be kept in check and at the same time, they can positively influence their peers too.

      @ Lisa, well done! I’m sure when others see you, they will be inspired to change as well. You are a lifesaver. 🙂

      @ Eren, it is not really about blaming but prompting people to take responsibility. And I do agree with you that there are many factors that may cause obesity including genetic and slow metabolism. It is important, no matter whether you are obese genetically or due to some health reason, to eat right. Eating right may even help to change your condition for the better. We need to take proactive measures. What we can’t control is our genetic or metabolism. And what we can control are our eating habits and lifestyles. Pardon me, by no mean I am judging anyone here. I am just silently prompting, without pointing finger at a particular individual to be responsible. I believe too that encouraging is more important than judging. Adults need to get this straight, “If we do not make time to take care of our children now, we will need to make time to take care of them when they are sick in the future.” It is either now or later. But I believe if we are to take better care of them now, we will have less to worry in the future.

  12. Eren Mckay

    BK- I agree with everything that you said 100 %. It just worries me that some people (not you) might find this notion and take it too far and start to judge other parents.
    For example: I have a niece who is extremely chubby. She is not like this because of lack of love and attention or even lack of good eating habits from her parents.
    She has been like this ever since she was born. She has hormonal problems that have caused this. Her mom is a self sacrificing wonderful mother.
    So I just believe that we need to be careful before jumping to assumptions. (Which you haven’t.)

  13. Symphony of Love Post author

    @ Eren, I understand where you are coming from. This reminds me that we must not be too quick to judge and who are we to judge anyway. What we must always do is to understand the whole situation. Thank you for the kind reminder. You have made a very valid point.

    I have known of people who need to take certain medication for their health problems and sometimes some of this medications caused them to gain weight. In such cases, they will need to take care of the health problems first. When the health problems are taken care of, I believe eventually the weight gain problem will take care of itself.

  14. Sara Chapman in Seattle, USA

    One easy tip for health for all ages is not to drink your calories. Don’t drink any soda, and not juice either, just eat fruit (tastes so good) and drink water. Easy on the milk, especially for adults.

    And my other favorite health tip is to use old dishes. Dinner plates should be no more than 9 or 10 inches across. Dessert cups used to be half a cup, or 4 ounces. Now they look tiny, but in the 1950s and before, they were what people ate on. If we ate much smaller portions, we would be so much more in tune with what our bodies actually need. Using huge dishes really adds to the problem.
    .-= Sara Chapman in Seattle, USA´s last blog ..More chandeliers =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Sara, I agree with you totally. I used to drink soda when I was younger. But nowadays I prefer water most of the time. At time I will drink tea. I guess we can never be too wrong with using old dishes. Perhaps restaurant will need to stop serving bigger portions and just leave it to the customers to maybe ask for more if they really want to. I believe one way of eating less is to eat slowly and chew our foods well. Since the mind take a while to register our meals, thus most people have the tendency of overeating if they eat too fast. Thus if we eat and chew our meals slowly, we are giving our minds a chance to let us know that we’re fulled and should not be eating anymore. Self-control and discipline are needed too.

  15. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    I think this is an incredibly important topic. I have a niece and nephew who are overweight, and my niece was obese by the time she turned 7. Whether it’s our decreased mobility as technology continues to infiltrate our lives (I know I can be guilty of being overly sedentary as a writer and/or desk jockey), or the growing number of processed and genetically altered “foods” we’re being sold in the US and throughout other industrialized nations. I don’t think people are as aware as they could be that their health, and the size and shape of their body, is in their hands.

    I enjoyed this post, and plan to visit your blog again!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..7 Steps for Climbing the Staircase to Joy =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Megan, you are right. Either they do not know that their healths, their sizes, their shapes and bodies are in their hands or that they are simply ignoring that. We need to be responsible for our health as no other people are responsible for it. As for children, we really have to watch what we are feeding to them. Not only that, we must not overfeed them too. Sometimes our concern that they have enough to eat could be doing more harm to them than good. Thank you for being around here.

  16. spindiva

    WOW this message is amazing and true. Too bad not more people read it and believe it.

    I am all about lead by example. I don’t deny my kids the goodies, in fact I don’t deny myself the goodies when I really want them but come on now, we must learn to have self control. Teach portion control, teach nutrition starting early in life, teach them to be active and love life but not in the company of food. And school…let’s just not go there – it would take up a whole page. Suffice it to say that it fails to provide real nutrition.

    Thanks for this message.
    .-= spindiva´s last blog ..988 miles, 96 hours, 5 states, 4 kids, 1 pick up truck = Fun! =-.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ spindiva, I guess we can still indulge in a little goodies sometimes, as long as we have self control. I agree with you that we need to start from young. With regards to school, a whole page is still conservative; we probably need a few pages. 😀