The health of American children


Jessica Lewis

After speaking with Jamey Mullen, the Director of the Norwich Family YMCA, I was astounded by the facts he told me about the effects of childhood obesity.
It is obvious that childhood obesity is becoming an ever growing problem in the United States and other parts of the world, but I was amazed when I heard that for the first time since we started keeping records, the life expectancy for children is shorter than that of their parents. Later that week I heard a public service announcement on television, saying that the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in recent years.

The facts are scary, and the toll that it will have on the lives of our youth is even scarier. I find myself wanting to point the finger at some group or organization. I want to place blame with someone, but there is no individual or individual group that has caused this unpleasant change, it is the culture as a whole.

As a whole, we need to look at the destructive lifestyle choices that are bringing about this unpleasant statistic. Portion sizes are out of control, soda is the number one beverage choice for children, fast food is replacing more and more meals a week and outdoor activity has been replaced by computer games, television shows and video games.

Even with all of these factors working against us, we as parents need to take responsibility. Children develop habits by watching their parents and doing as they see. There is a factor of control that goes along with raising children. When you see a bad habit, it is your responsibility to correct it.

As for me, these statistics have served as a wake-up call. My child may be far too young to be ingesting soda and sugary snacks now, but I know I am going to be much more conscious about my behavior around him. It is up to me to ensure that he lives a long and healthy life, and I intend to take responsibility for helping him do just that.