Get Yourself Moving!™

Thoughts on improving fitness, nutrition and learning for children and adults alike

Is it okay for my child to be overweight?

Every now and then you’ll read or see a story about “Fat Pride” or “Fat Power.” It’s a form of social activism started by outgoing overweight people to combat the social stigma that is too-often associated with being obese. These people feel comfortable with their size and want others to treat them no differently than if they were thin.

This is a reasonable request. As a society, we should treat everyone with equal respect, since everyone in this world has something unique to offer. And yes, there are some people out there who can have above-average size and weight and be healthy – their blood pressure is normal or even low, and they can – and more importantly do – exercise daily, as this 2005 story in Time Magazine discovers. (Side note on that story: It references studies by the Cooper Institute in Dallas and other studies which concluded that “overweight and active” is better than “thin and sedentary.” In other words: It’s better to GET YOURSELF MOVING!)

What about overweight children?

Of course they should also be given the same respect and love every child deserves. Children come in all sizes and shapes. But should we make them feel comfortable with their excess weight, dare I say happy about it? Should their parents start a “Fat is Fun” movement? Should respect and coddling be a reason to look the other way when a child is eating too much and not exercising enough?

I’m sure there are big children out there who are perfectly healthy and active for their size, but let’s face the reality: A child who is sedentary and eating excessively is simply not healthy, and yet out of  love and affection, we may be too-often looking the other way, smiling and hugging our children when we need to be doing some “tough love” to save their lives.

Here are some facts from the Centers for Disease Control:

Doctors and scientists believe obesity may lead to the following health problems:

  • Heart disease, caused by
  • high cholesterol and/or
  • high blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Social discrimination

What’s more, the psychological stress of social stigmatization can cause low self-esteem which, in turn, can hinder academic and social functioning, and can persist into adulthood.

Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of overweight children had at least one CVD risk factor while 25 percent of overweight children had two or more CVD risk factors.

Overweight kids become overweight or obese adults

The news is littered with all of the health, social and economic problems associated with overweight, under-active lifestyles. We know this is not a future we want to give our children. But we are giving them this future – feeding it actually – every time they drink soda pop instead of water. Every time we let them play a video game instead of a basketball game. Every time we feed them processed chicken nuggets and fries instead of a healthy, balanced meal. Every time we let them go play on the computer instead of encouraging them to go outside to play.

It’s time we as parents stop coddling and start acting. Get our kids moving and they will benefit in so many, many different ways.

Tue, February 9 2010 » Reversing Childhood Obsesity

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