Kids give more meaning to life. Ask any parent about it and they will likely tell you the same thing. But raising one is a different story. There are a lot of hurdles parents face each day from the moment a child is born. Not only are parents expected to provide all the basic needs of their kids but as well as teach them on how to become wise, responsible, God-fearing, and compassionate adults someday. But how can kids do that in the near future if they are already struggling with their health (and body image) as early as now? Looks may not be everything but say that to a bullied pubertal child or teen and you’d likely receive glaring stares that paint a thousand words.
Weight is the biggest struggle of young kids these days perhaps because of the food they eat and the lifestyle they lead. Parents today are almost always harassed and exhausted so you can’t expect them to prepare healthy home-cooked meals when more often than not, both partners are out most of the day earning their keep. Aside from feeding their young children sweets, junks and processed food, kids also have access to tech gadgets to help them pass the time and not bother their tired parents at home. So eating + lounging around with a tablet/smart gadget with WiFi in hand = obesity. Hence, more and more kids are diagnosed as overweight and obese today than kids in the past.
Affiliated with Tokyo’s National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition, the authors of the new study express concern about the number of Japanese children with weight problems: “approximately 10% and 8% of 12-year-old boys and girls, respectively, were overweight or obese in 2015.” Though these percentages are down a bit from what health officials saw in 2000, when they began addressing the problem, the authors of the new study still regard them as “substantial.”
Childhood obesity is hardly peculiar to Japan. The researchers see “Japan follow[ing] the global trends,” with “the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity increas[ing worldwide] in the late 20th century,” pushing the number of preschool children who were overweight or obese in 2014 to approximately 41 million.
Even adults find comfort in eating especially when they are stressed. It is not surprising to discover that kids are vulnerable to this too since it helps them cope with all the new things they encounter in life. Children’s preoccupation with technology leaves them too lazy to engage in more active outdoor activities that young kids their age should be doing. Yet even though we like pinching the chubby cheeks of a cute, fat child, the impact of obesity on the health and well-being of that child is not always a positive experience as it can put them at higher risk of certain medical conditions and even suffer from lower self-esteem from being bullied by their peers for their heavy weight.
Recent research reflects some of this range of aetiological factors that influence childhood obesity. Global perspectives from countries of study including Brazil, Australia, England, South Africa, China, and a review of the international literature cover topics frequently reported by the media, like the food environment, unhealthy food advertising policy, weight management interventions, and associations with gender and sleep. Lesser known research areas include the developmental origins of obesity, which examines how foetal conditions in utero can influence the amount of fat deposited on the body in childhood and adulthood. This field of research provides the kind of evidence used to justify a public health approach to obesity, with a focus on prevention in early life. Another important area of public health research, but again perhaps lesser known, is the roles of schools and parents, given the tendency for policy approaches to involve schools and communities in prevention.
Society as a whole should be taught to change their perception regarding obesity and basically urge everyone to examine the way they live their lives and how parents also raise their children. If children aren’t taught about the value of health and healthy eating, they will carry their bad habits into adulthood and eventually do the same thing to their children. It will be an endless vicious cycle that we are starting to feel its menace now. The problem basically lies with the types of food we eat and how we live our lives when we are constantly glued to the screens of our smart gadgets day in and day out.
Despite this awareness, nothing much has changed and kids still get fed with fastfood and all things sweet and processed. But you can’t blame most parents since it is actually more expensive now to feed your family with healthy and organic food than junks especially if these parents are also struggling to make both ends meet. Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. It is only with the concerted efforts of everyone that we can start making progress in addressing childhood obesity and saving young kids from a long list of health, emotional, and mental woes brought about by being overweight or obese from a young age.