Fast Food Not Necessarily The Main Culprit In Rise Of Childhood Obesity Rates

childhood obesity

Photo by Gaulsstin / CC BY

By this point we have all heard the admonitions about fast food; the Trans fats from fried foods will raise the levels of “bad” cholesterol causing heart issues, fast food is full of preservatives and low in nutritional value, the list goes on and on. But is fast food to blame when it comes to childhood obesity? What about children that are overweight and do not eat a lot of fast foods?

All of the bodies on this planet are different. They are made up of basically the same components (with some variations), but each person is uniquely different. If one person catches a cold and passes it to another it will not be the same exact virus, it will mutate slightly from person to person. So while one child may be eating fast food and be slender as a pole, another could eat the same fast food and blow up like a balloon.

Genetics are one factor to consider when examining childhood obesity. If a child comes from a family that is predisposed to be overweight that particular child may have to work harder to remain at a healthy weight. Physical activity plays an important role as well. Our society has gone from one of physical activity all day (think of farmers), to one of sitting all day (think TV, computers, and video games). Unfortunately this change in our society reflects in the rise of childhood obesity rates.

Parents need to break the cycle of unhealthy behavior in their family. A child will emulate what they see as they grow and mature, and if they see a parent who comes home from work, goes directly to the couch and turns on the TV, they will assume that is what they are supposed to do themselves. Teaching children to be active throughout the day will end up benefiting the entire family.

Luckily schools are starting to help by providing healthier lunch choices and in some cases employing a Nutritionist to help plan the school food program. With a push from the government schools are now offering fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy items along with education about eating right and portion control. People are also educating themselves on the benefits of organic foods, and the dangers of pesticides and chemicals in our diets.

If a family would like to start eating healthy but just does not know where to start, consulting a Dietitian would be a good first step. A dietitian will evaluate your current diet, make suggestions as to how the family diet can be improved, and develop a menu for the family geared towards healthy eating.

Incorporating exercise into our daily lives along with maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to the success of our children and our nation as a whole.