Research — SmilingDogTheProfWants

Kids Make Themselves Fat

Kids make themselves fat. A child from the ages of 4-18 makes the decision to turn on the TV over going outside or picking up a controller to play games over picking up a pencil to do their homework, so why do we think that childhood obesity is a different issue and blame parents for their child’s unhealthy lifestyle? A child is responsible for what they choose to do and for what they want; this means a child that makes poor decisions could end up overweight and won’t choose to do anything about that weight. A kid that wants fast-food everyday, the newest console, watches TV and YouTube constantly will almost always be behind physically when compared to kids who play outside. Children are responsible for their weight issues because they refuse to acknowledge the consequences their actions have on their physical health.

The reason children are obese is because they want fast food more than the other alternatives like a home cooked meal, fruit, or vegetables In fact, 34% of kids ages 2-19 ate fast-food on any given day according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. A child only wants the sugary, salty, greasy food because it’s appealing to what they love and crave without caring for the issues of daily or even monthly consumption of fast-food that their schools and parents have told them about. Schools have put a lot of time and money into getting the information and holding classes that inform kids of the health issues revolving around all sorts of things, but the biggest being obesity, with around 18.5% of children ages 2-19 being considered overweight or obese (20%+ over expected weight for age, height, and sex), the education system slowly begins to cover more about the issues from being overweight and provide ways to alleviate the issue like physical activities and more in-depth classes about eating correctly (CDC). With 18.5% of all children in the United States being recorded overweight and obese it should be hard to believe that in every case a parent is to blame and should provide some ideas to how a child has more capabilities of controlling what they do and eat than the avearage day person would come to expect them to. With the education their parents and schools provide them most kids from the age of 12 and up should have no problem maintaining a healthy life through making independent lifestyle choices like eating and exercising. Those under the age of 12 are at more of a loss than their older counterparts because they may have less of a capacity to understand the consequences but they do know that there are issues and that those issues should be avoided, if a child chooses that they will not follow the advice from those around them then the child has made the decision without any outside influence suggesting he pick one lifestyle over the other.

We hear more and more about how funding is needed to put forth educational and physical programs outside and inside schools to try to prevent, alleviate, and solve the obesity issues in our youth, yet the only thing that is focused on is the need for more funding and the correct targeted audience. Funding also does not equate to children paying attention to the instructor or slides, because the chances are if the kid is obese they already aren’t intreseted in caring about being healthy. Most programs warn you about the health issues of being obese and the statistics that show high mortality rates like the American Public Health Association stating that obese individuals are 20-40% more likely to get a cardio vascular disease and on average losing 3.5-5 years of their total life just from being obese in which at least 14% of all children are. If the kid is overweight they aren’t going to care about the 5 year loss because they’ll think it’s so far in the future and that all the issues with mobility and energy are noticeable when you’re young because your body is still growing.

The lack of energy one gets from not exercising and eating junk found is another negative effect that only adds onto the back of the kids that thought it would be that big of a deal to stay inside and play video games and watch TV or videos on Youtube, but those kids aren’t going to care anyway because they may think that it either doesn’t apply to them, they’re not willing to put in the work to alleviate their issues, or worse, doesn’t think they can get overweight. A child thinking it can’t happen to them or lacking the enthusiasm to change themselves because to them other than being larger than the other kids they don’t see any issues, everyday they’ll wake up with no pain in their knees and no loss of breath or energy because it takes time for those issues to develop and for their bodies to not be able to handle the excess weight anymore. 

The idea that a child wants the newest toys and devices relates to obesity in the sense that it forms bad mental habits that make it easier for a kid to become addicted to fast food and distracting content that keeps them from playing outside with their friends. A bad mental habit can easily be derived from sedentary lifestyles that become more and more prevalent in today’s day and age. Sedentary means that you spend most of your time seated or without much exercise, which perfectly sums up what playing a video game or watching a video or TV is mostly about. For a child to be surrounded by all sorts of new and interesting things it’s no wonder they’re obsessed with it all, but to get the newest thing when it comes out to use it as much as possible before something new comes along is dangerous for kids that need exercise and healthy diets also because the only thing they care about is those new things and they won’t have time to go outside. They choose to partake in life’s guilty pleasures over pleasures attained from playing with your friends outside building forts, playing tag, making up stories and acting them out, playing basketball or soccer, so many things that keep their attention but some choose to play a video game instead because it’s how they perceive to be a better use of their time. The conscious decision that they would rather hit buttons on a controller or keypad over playing basketball is a choice that they make knowing that it’s better for them to go outside and that mentality only gets worse the longer they stay in that mindset (Leitzmann). 

The responsibility of a child wanting to watch YouTube over playing outside falls on the child, not the parent. A child will avoid going outside in order to watch the newest video of something that peaks their interests like any adult would consider doing, but what a young child will consider being interesting is something that’s flashy and brightly colored or something breaking, stuff that they can’t replicate which is expected of a child as well but to not realize that they rather look at someone playing football than going out with their friends and doing it themselves is a problem that a parent can’t force their kid to fix and would only lead to the kid being more stubborn if they punished him for it. If the kid has played outside they should be able to understand that both watching and doing something are extremely entertaining and fun to do, but when sedentary behavior outweighs playing outside it is because they chose to be lazy and have created their own issues that people other than themselves will have to deal with.

Most people would blame video games and other new electronics for the cause of obesity, especially in children, but statistics showed that obesity has been a rising problem since the late 80’s all the way to the dramtic difference from a reference point in the 70s to the year 2000 where a child was 3 times as likely to be obese (GHinstitute). This sudden change wouldn’t have been caused by video games because the industry was very small at the time. Most of the distractions that draw kids to a sedentary lifestyle would be entertainment in general, of which the TV is the most influential. Most people would probably say then that both video games and television have caused a wave of obesity in the youth with Children spending on average 44.5 hours a week in front of electronic screens they will always say that the kids would rather watch TV or play video games than go outside but never consider the issue of why that is (American Psychological Association, 2004). So while people go out blaming TV for the physical issues their daughter has or the problem their son has with staying up to play video games, they’ll never focus their energy on the fact that the child wants to watch the TV and not play outside. It is a game of pointing fingers but those vengeful fingers never point at the right source of the problem.

A parent can’t be held responsible for the desires of their child or how their mind works, so obesity cannot be directly controlled by the parents, and is instead left for the child to choose a healthy or normal eating and exercise habit over temporary pleasures. A child is faced with a lot of independent decisions, one important one is a healthy lifestyle that will follow them for the rest of their life that most will cast away at the first sign of their favorite Youtuber posting a video. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html 

Borrell, L. N., & Samuel, L. (2014). Body Mass Index Categories and Mortality Risk in US Adults: The Effect of Overweight and Obesity on Advancing Death. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 512-519. doi:10.2105/ajph.2013.301597 Facts and figures on childhood obesity. (2014, October). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/end-childhood-obesity/facts/en/

American Psychological Association. (n.d.-a). Psychology Topics: The impact of Food Advertising on Childhood Obesity. Washington, D.C.: Author. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/kids-media/food.aspx?item=1 

ghInstitute, O. M., Board, O. H. P. A. D., Food, A. N. B., & Committee, O. P. O. O. I. (2005). Preventing childhood obesity : Health in the balance. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/rowan/detail.action?docID=3377891&pq-origsite=primo 

Leitzmann, M., Jochem, C., & Schmid, D. (2019). Sedentary behaviour epidemiology (1st ed. 2018.). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-61552-3

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