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.
Obesity has gotten worse over the last few decades and continues to become a larger threat to health with more than one third of all Americans being overweight or obese. In Jane E. Brody’s New York Times article, “Attacking the Obesity Epidemic by First Figuring Out Its Cause,” She claims that the individual is not to blame, but instead that society around them has changed. The importance of this matter is to be closely compared to smoking and should be treated like smoking with degrading advertisements, showered with ways to help people lose weight, and the fact that it is not good for a person at all. This message means that no one can be to blame for what they eat but instead it’s someone else’s fault and though one could say that the large corporations are trying to make people this way it should not be argued that when they realize this it is their own fault. Obesity has been majorly impacted by the rise of fast food and recreational products but every person has a choice to consume or not consume whatever product they want, a child cannot be any different. A child has less of an excuse to be overweight on top of being able to understand that too much food and not enough movement makes you fat.
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. The Cdc claims there is 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. 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.
It’s no secret that businesses target children for their advertisements even if they claim they don’t. Mcdonalds sold ridiculously unhealthy apples with caramel to entice kids into begging their parents and keeping them there with their small jungle areas that the kids love to play in. Kids are learning every single day from their experience and though they may not fully understand right away it is something they can come to understand if their weight gets out of control and they find that they can’t do the things they used to be able to. They won’t understand that businesses are targeting them or if they do they won’t care because the product being displayed to them is what they want. However, they will be able to recognize that kids their own age treat them differently, “Children who were obese were 65 percent more likely to be bullied than their peers of normal weight; overweight kids were 13 percent more likely to be bullied.” That kid will also need larger clothing and notice that they can’t run as fast or for as long as they used to and should be able to understand that eating less unhealthy foods can help or if they don’t have access to better quality food exercise is an amazing booster for bodily functions. What is important is that they don’t need the newest device or the cheesiest pizza to fulfill their wants and will come to the conclusion that a little resolve can lead to better things and a higher chance at a successful life.
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 three to five 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. But even when something awful happens like the children at school making fun of how they look they proceed to do it and with articles like “obesse Kids more vulnerable to bullies” we can read that things like “children who were obese were 65 percent more likely to be bullied than their peers of normal weight; overweight kids were 13 percent more likely to be bullied,” and understand that the kid chose to do nothing about their issue because they are content with it or just don’t care.
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. According to those that worked on “Sedentary behavior epidemiology,” the conscious decision that they would rather hit buttons on a controller or keypad over playing basketball is a choice that they make. It is taught to the kids very often that it is important for them to go outside so they refuse to go knowing that it’s better for them to be active and having that mentality will only carve if further into their mind if they keep deciding that they would rather stay inactive.
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 from GHinstitute show that obesity has been a rising problem since the late 80’s all the way to the dramatic difference from a reference point in the 70s to the year 2000 where a child was 3 times as likely to be obese. 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 and according to the American Psychological Association in 2004, children spend on average 44.5 hours a week in front of electronic screens. People 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. 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.
The parents aren’t the determinant of whether their kid is obese or not and the child may stop listening to their parent if they tell them to do something they don’t want to do. For these children it is much harder for them to identify what is wrong because they won’t listen to their parents, but when the child can determine that eating too much food and not going outside makes them gain weight and not feel well it is up to them to decide how their decisions will affect their future, for some it’s obesity and other kids it’s just playing outside every once in awhile. Parents can’t always be around with work or present with the kids while they’re at school so the child naturally will gain independence and for those working parents who try to have an active role in their child’s life but their kid is still unhealthy it is because that kid doesn’t want to change despite having the tools they need for the change. Most parents would not force their kid to do something they absolutely don’t want to do unless the child needed to do it so a kid that is unhealthy and stays that way is more at fault than the parents who can’t get them to change.
They say that this generation is the first generation predicted to not outlive their parents. One in four kids are considered overweight or obese in America and with numbers like that it’s no wonder that children from this generation wont outlive their parents. However, with 25% of around 75 million children today (under the age of 18) that makes 18,500,000 obese or overweight children and it should be understandable that in that eighteen and a half million cases, that the parents could not be at blame for each of them. The lack of impulse control is expected in a child and is unexpected of them to make the right choice every time, just like any adult, but to say that they are just children and don’t understand would be implying that a child can’t see that their clothes have grown and that they have gained weight. It’s important for them to go outside and play over sitting at home watching a YouTube video because it’s easier for them to make friends and keep active and for most kids they see a lot of fun in a friend to play with. Mayo Clinic has published an article saying that it is healthy to have a good friend because it keeps you in a good state of mind; if they like to play together then it will also keep them both physically active. Implementing some of this idea can have positive effects not only on a person’s children, but their siblings, cousins, friends, and also their own life because it creates some independence for the child to make the correct decisions and that those decisions can be more enjoyable than sitting inside.
Children are responsible for their grades, their behavior, and their everyday choices, so their weight should be accepted as something they control too. YouTube is a grand distraction as of late but the choice of doing homework over watching a video should at very least be considered similar to the choice of playing outside over watching a YouTube video. Kids also need to be willing to fight against others’ harassments and not succumb to the insults but understand that there is an issue and that it can be solved with some dedication and a little hard work. Obesity is a rising issue for children across the world and the fault doesn’t just lie with the parents, but also with the kids who choose an unhealthy lifestyle over an active one.
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
“Obese kids more vulnerable to bullies” Anne Harding, Health.com. 3 May 2010. 2 December 2020.
“Attacking the obesity epidemic by first figuring out its cause” Jane E. Brody, New York Times. 12 Sept 2011. 16 December 2020.