“I hate soccer” – that’s what my son said this morning at the breakfast table when we were planning out the day and talk came to mention his afternoon soccer game. 6 hours later the same kid said how much he loved playing soccer. It’s amazing how fast the youngsters change their mind and it is a good thing as a parent to be persistent and making them go for some team sports as an example. These days too many kids are “supervised” by TVs or game consoles while their parents have “more important things” to do.
Recently, there has been study after study showing that Americans are becoming more and more obese and depending on which state you live in, this becomes more and more visible the moment you walk down a busy street. Obese people can be seen everywhere and I am not talking just people having some overweight, but people that easily weigh 300 lbs. or more. How did we get there?
There are many reasons for obesity that studies show play an important role. For one the increase in processed food options is a major problem, especially as these food options are cheaper to buy compared to fresh food produce or items produced with healthy ingredients. Corn starch is one of the biggest ingredients that can be found all along the food chain. And you wonder why corn farmers are bringing home a lot of “bacon” (money) these days, but if you look at what has corn in it, you will not be surprised anymore. Food prices in general are also at issue especially during the ongoing recession and economic instability that we are experiencing since 2008. It is cheaper to buy processed foods than buying veggies, salads, fresh meats, and whole grain bread.
Kids love junk food and McDonalds, Burger King, and all the other places are banking on this behavior and encourage us to eat there. They are even more banking on this as these guys know that they can offer their fat making meals at prices way below of what it would cost creating the same meal at home. We all have busy life’s and it is easier to go through the drive-thru to get a quick dinner than spending an hour or more preparing a fresh and healthy meal after having a stressful day at work. Each of these fast food meals comes loaded with Sodium, fat, and other unhealthy stuff and of course it comes with hundreds or thousands of calories, too.
While the fat clogs up arteries the lack of physical activity allows the extra calories find “new homes” at kids’ bellies, legs, and arms. And since parents often look the same, the kids are “learning from the best”, meaning in their opinion it is Ok to look overweight. In 5 to 10 years kids with normal weights (after current standards) will be the exception at schools and while kids today might make fun of the fat kid that is getting seconds in the cafeteria, in 10 years this might be the opposite, too. This is not good.
It is important today that we teach our children to be physically active. We need to make sure that they spend enough time outside playing in the yard or in the field behind the house and that they discover what it feels like to climb up a tree. A great way to get kids moving is to register them for team sport activities like Soccer, Football, Basketball, or Baseball. Even if the kids complain about it, parents need to make sure to stick to this additional routine (because we know better). Unfortunately too many parents are giving in to the demands their children might raise and what started with some good intentions is then abandoned. It is time that we get reasonable again and force our kids to do something like our parents made sure we were active as youngsters. By the way – my son had a great soccer game today and even scored a goal which made him feel extremely happy and motivated. And for my wife and me it is a sweet recognition that we are doing the right thing.