Overweight Children. The statistics are really quite frightening. It is estimated that in the USA one out of every three children is overweight. Although we know that many children are consuming more calories in the form of junk food, fast food and pop, this is not the only reason that they are putting on weight. The main contributor to children becoming overweight is a lack of exercise.
Most of us are aware that many children are spending far too much time in front of the television or computer. Many would much rather watch TV with a bag of chips or play a computer game than go outside to play. Getting children motivated to exercise is becoming more and more difficult. In South Korea the government is now contemplating passing a law which requires all children under 16 years of age to be off the internet by midnight. Many children are not only becoming overweight because of a lack of exercise, but they are also becoming addicted to computer games. Some even become very aggressive when forced to switch off the computer.
This state of affairs is causing millions of parents a great deal of concern. The long term effect on childrens' health and the strain that this will put on health care systems is extremely worrying. The pressure on health care systems will effect all of us. As a parent, what you can you do to ensure that your child manages to get enough exercise and does not become overweight?
One of the most important considerations is to set an example. If parents emphasize the importance of exercise and activitiy and particiapte in it themselves this will go a long way to encouraging their children to do the same. Rules about the amount of time allowed to watch TV or to play computer games have to be set and adhered to. The earlier in a child's life this is done , the easier it is to keep television watching and computer gaming to a reasonable schedule. Once again, parents need to set an example, this often involves a lot of sacrifice on our part as well. After a hard day at work we want to relax, put our feet up and watch TV too. Often the best thing for us, our own health and our own weight as well as that of our children is to do something which involves some physical exercise and fun. Just going bowling for an hour is much better for us than eating chips in front of the TV.
Another important consideration if you are worried about your child's weight or if you just want to ensure that he or she keeps physically active, is enrollment in after school activites. As with so many things in life the sooner you can do this the better. Getting children into the habit of doing something on a relatively structured basis is important. It is also important to start early because if a child has already started to put on weight it becomes more difficult to lose it. We all know how difficult it can be to lose just a few pounds, and children are no different.
Finding an after school program that a child enjoys should not be too difficult. Often the schools themselves have after school activites. If they don't offer any, then investigating programs at the local recreation centre or community hall is often the next best bet. Children who participate in swimming and skating or any one othe many sports often on offer to children such as volleyball, badminton, basketball, baseball, running etc. will reap many other benefits besides becoming fit and keeping their weight off.
These acitivities help them with their socialization and communication skills as well as helping them to work as part of a team. As a family it is also important to do as much as possible together. if you enjoy running, walking or cycling encourage your children to come with you. As the old saying goes " a family that plays together, stays together". One way to get your child interested in exercising and to keep them motivated is to buy them a pedometer. A pocket pedometer such as one of the Omron models can be kept in the pocket and will record the number of steps your child takes during the day. These can be recorded in a log on a daily basis and will encourage your child to try and increase the distance travelled each day. Anytime we can make exercise fun and exciting it will encourage our children to get off the couch.