A Picture Worth a 1000 Words

Keith & Kelly

This is a picture of me and Keith as kids! (sorry for the quality) Keith in his football uniform and me competing in one of my first track meets! This is one of my favorite pictures in our house! But it also speaks volumes to the types of lifestyles we led as children and have now carried into adulthood. We were both such active kids. We were both involved in sports and camps and we were never idle! Granted we didn’t have cell phones, twitter, computers, or Nintendo Wii back then either! But we did have television, Gameboy, and Nintendo! But we were much more interested in being outdoors! Kudos to our parents for making sure we were active and healthy! So here are some scary statistics about todays youth:

  • 60% of children in America are obese children. 
  •  The obesity statistics of 2002 said that 22% of US preschoolers were overweight. Can imagine how big the problem is now??
  • Studies also reveal the fact that 40% of obese children and 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults. Indeed, by the time an obese child turns six years old, his/her chance of becoming an obese adult is over 50%.

And here was the statistic I found to be the MOST interesting:

  • Research studies show that most of the lifelong eating and physical activity habits are established in children by the age of 12!

SO….this means that by the age of 12…your patterns of eating and exercise start to become established…and we all know that habits and patterns are HARD TO BREAK!!! This scares me! Truly! I don’t know the answers here and I am not about to pretend to! I know all the arguments:

  • It is the parent’s fault
  • It is the school’s fault
  • It is the food company’s fault
  • It is the industry’s fault
  • It is too expensive to eat healthy
  • And the list goes on and on and on and on and on…

LET’S STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME AND INSTEAD WORK ON THE SOLUTION! I bet collectively we could name tons of ways to make childhood obesity less of a problem! It is going to take us all working together as a nation to beat this. This is a SERIOUS problem and thankfully I feel like America is starting (albeit slowly) to treat it that way!

List one thing that you think could help decrease childhood obesity rates?

I’ll start: Have mandatory gym class in school for at least 45 minutes every single day!!

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32 Responses

  1. Teach kids how to prepare snacks in much earlier years… not late high school where the “cool” eating habits are already established. Have you seen this or heard of Jamie Oliver?? http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jamie_oliver.html

  2. change the lunch system at school.

  3. Adorable pics of you 2!! 🙂 So being a 1st grade teacher, I see some of this firsthand. Hate to say it, but from my perspective it’s the parents. They are sending their kids to school with poptarts, cheetos, chips ahoy, and skittles for their snack EVERY SINGLE DAY!! This is not ok with me. I have tried and tried again to send home notes stating that they should send in a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or baggie of whole grain cereal. I’ve also talked with the kids, done activities with them, and even modeled healthy eating to them, YET they still come in every day with JUNK!! It’s quite frustrating as a teacher to not be getting through to these parents. Actually today I saw the grease marks from a little boy’s potato chips on his napkin and though to myself I will never ever let that kind of crap go into my future child’s body day in and day out. Yuck. That very same child would totally eat apple slices with some cinnamon and a little sugar on top if only he was provided with it. Parents just choose convenience over health and it is quite heartbreaking.

  4. Guess that wasn’t really a solution, haha! So here’s one to offer up: Only offer ice cream to be sold in schools once a week.

  5. I think kids should be educated in school about healthy food, how to prepare things and what healthy choices are! My kids are lucky, they get a lot of information from me. I don’t deprive them of things (I just gave them Twinkies for the first time this past summer…they had never had one before…they have not asked for them since). Kids do learn from their parents! I think school lunches are a huge problem. The fresh fruit they have there is crap! It is also hard to eat. Little kids can’t peel oranges and when you are at the age of loosing teeth, it can be hard to eat apples. There are better ways to incorporate fresh food into a child’s diet. I also think they don’t get enough recess. They need more free running time. They get too much homework now and they can’t even play when they get home. Sorry for the rant. You can tell this one gets to me!

  6. I have had the hardest time with my weight. I played sports as a kid and was very active but my parent’s didn’t have time to teach us about healthy food. Nor did they have the time to provide it.

    A normal day for us was a poptart for breakfast, a school lunch, and hamburger helper for dinner.

    I don’t blame my parents for anything but I am making it a goal to teach my daughter everything I know about eating healthy. And to provide healthy foods for her!

    I love this post girl… 🙂

  7. You were a skinny minnie back then too! I really think a lot of it is a lack of knowledge. That, and general laziness…because eating healthy takes more work than eating fast food or restaurant food in general. My husband’s cousin is overweight (maybe obese…she’s 11 and weighs much more than me). It’s because she eats fast food for every meal. It’s a lack of knowing the consequences. And it’s really, really sad.

  8. Adorable pictures! You’re so happy about your ribbons 🙂

    I can’t believe that habits are in place by age 12. I totally agreeing about not playing the blame game! We should be using our energy for a solution.
    I think it’s a family issue as you and others have alluded to – kids will develop healthy habits if the family has physical activity time and eats well together. The child eats what the parents give them to eat, so I think it’s important that the parents are educated about eating and living healthfully. This is important because even if the kids are taught what to eat and WANT to eat say, vegetables, they can’t if their parents don’t provide them. But education isn’t always enough – barriers need to be removed (this is the difference between health education and health promotion). For example, in some low income areas, grocery stores are too far away for the family to get fresh foods. There are so many issues to take into consideration when dealing with behavior change!

    Mandatory PE is a great idea for sure!

  9. Aww both of you were/are such little cuties. In my high school, you only had to take gym for one year, and you only had it one day a week. Not the best way to encourage exercise. Also, one of my exes little brother’s gym class allowed them to play WI fit in gym. I get that it is a fitness game, but in no way does it replace real activity. It is things like that, that have to change.

    If I ever become a mother, I plan on encouraging my kids to play sports, and to stick with them, just like my parents did for me.

  10. Those pictures are SO cute! I think just encouraging healthy eating as well as teaching kids what is healthy from a young age. Most of all, set a good example by getting lots of exercise as a family!

  11. I love looking at old pictures! You both look so cute!

  12. You two = precious. Don’t make me bust out pics of me and TCL in the first grade . . .

    I am a person who believe that if you have kids, it starts with you as a parent. My parents made sure that we walked, rode bikes, played outside, and we were both in ballet after failing miserably at soccer.

  13. YES– mandatory gym class! I can’t believe how many elementary schools have no physical education class nowadays!

  14. Aw, you guys are adorable!

    Ok, i’m going to play devil’s advocate…in defense of parents…

    Because, I spend all day working with an indigent population. It may be that these kids don’t have the proper parental guidance, but it is very difficult to eat healthfully for cheap (on food stamps for example). I have a lot of clients who are happy if they can get any kind of food on the table for their kids, and that is not an uncommon occurrence in the U.S.

    And, while my parents had us eating all organic healthy hippie food and playing every sport under the sun, that required a lot of (a) money and (b) time to schlep us back and forth to practice. There were a lot of opportunities to be active in my area and be outside because I lived in a safe neighborhood. But, there were plenty of other kids growing up just a couple miles away deep in Baltimore city that cannot play outside because the streets are unsafe.

    I guess, I just say this to make the point that parents play a large role, but a lot of times, in lower socioeconomic areas (where you see much higher rates of obesity to begin with) the accessibility of healthy food and activity options is just not what it should be.

  15. I would say find fun and creative ways for kids to help in the kitchen (cooking, not cleaning pots and pans…..not that I am against the latter haha). I think if you show kids in a safe way fun ways to incoporate veggies, fruits, lean proteins (such as build your own pizza and then fruit parfait dessert bar) it would make a world of difference with them seeing healthy foods can taste good.

    I was active as a kid but my mom never cooked and we were always going out to eat at restaurants, fast food, etc. I don’t want to say I am bitter against my parents for this still but I wish they would have done more. I never knew I loved vegetables so much until the past three yrs.I guess better later than never?

    Love the pics by the way–I wanna see more!!

  16. I could write my own post . . .

    Did you ever hear of the show “Honey, we’re killing the kids”? It made me so grateful for my own parents. Like yours, we were in many activities at a young age. Along with habits being formed by age 12, I also believe that many muscles are developed that early. I started dancing at age 5 and have incredibly defined leg muscles.

    I guess on suggestion would be to have more nutritious foods at school lunches. That’s something that SOCIETY can do.

    Suggestion for parents would be to kick the kids out of the house if it’s nice outside.

  17. I think so much could be accomplished with nutritious, family style meals at school!

  18. Ahh, Kelly, are you trying to get me all worked up at 10 pm? 😀

    1. Those photos are adorable. LOVE the blue shorts!
    2. I was also in a family where we were required to be in some sport during every season. I was a softball (summer), tennis (fall), basketball (winter), and track (spring) girl. I started all those sports in 2nd grade, and took swimming lessons before that.
    3. In my opionion, all those things you mentioned are to “blame”, but like you said, does it matter? You can play the blame game until you are blue in the face, and it will get you nowhere. Until we address the problem, there won’t be a solution. Better access to better food, government subsidies of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables (instead of corn) will lower costs in the grocery store, better education about nutrition for both adults and kids, mandatory gym classes, making eating fun. (I love that Michelle Obama started a garden and there were pictures all over the news with her and her daughters out there smiling and gardening!)
    4. I just learned today that the budget cuts where I live mean that all art and PE classes are done. Starting next year. No gym classes, ever. I can’t even explain how sad this makes me.

  19. Oh I could go on and on forever on this but I’ll just list one- teach families how to have healthy meals together. Your eating habits are imprinted on you whether you know it or not, so growing up with good examples will help you not only as a child, but as an adult. Then you’ll pass that example on to your kids, and so on and so on. 🙂

  20. Since I work for a school district, in administration, let me defend the schools. Mandatory P.E. isn’t going to happen, not in Texas. Write your State Congress about that! As long as teachers are forced to teach kids a test that is unfairly standardized there is no time for 45 minutes of P.E. everyday. Their “elective” time is split between a rotation of P.E., art, and music depending on what is available at each school. State funding is a joke and as long as it remain completely inequitable and insufficient schools will continue to be forced to cut programs completely or decrease the quality of them. That is why gyms and libraries in schools are oftened staffed with teacher aids instead of certified, qualified teachers now.

    I think that the burden of proper nutrition and activity lies with the parents. I honestly believe that you don’t have to limit junk food as long as you offer plenty of healthy food. I remember my eating habits as a kid. I ate cookies and chips probably too much, but I was always active. In order to keep up with the activity, I had to drink water (so that meant less soda by default). And when I was too young to choose my own food, my parents made me eat what was cooked at dinner. We always had vegetables at every meal and if we didn’t eat everything at meal-time; it was put away adn when we got hungry for a snack we got re-heated leftovers from the last meal or whatever snack we wanted if we had eaten everything at meal time.

    Since I work full time and my son does spend a good deal of time with other people who I know don’t make the same food choices I do, I do limit his junk food at home. He wants chips or cookies when we get home and I tell him he can have a piece of fruit or some raw veggies, but no junk before dinner. Yeah, he is only 2 (turning 3 in April), but I am really scared of the obesity trend I see in kids now. We always have a well-balanced meal, not always low-calorie, but at least with nutritious choices. I sneak in extra veggies every chance I get too (like I wilted spinach in spaghetti sauce the other night–he never knew!). If he eats well at dinner and he still wants a snack after, I let him have it and usually he eats two or three bites of something sweet and says he’s done.

    I just think there is a “happy-medium” that can be easily met. Limit tv, offer good food choices, make junk a treat not a regular, and make your kids go outside!

  21. It’s an interesting question and I think that finding an answer is quite difficult. Like others have said, the quality of food that parents give their children is obviously a factor, but in some cases when money is the decider, quantity trumps quality. Maybe have more healthy lunches in elementary schools? More PE time? Do kids even have PE anymore?

  22. These stats are some of the many reasons I’m happy that my 2 year old daughter never slows down. It may exhaust us but I’d much rather have her running around, climbing on the furniture and jumping around than sitting on the couch watching TV.

    Plus, I never plan on buying her a Nintendo, a Wii or any of the other game systems.

  23. […] 2010 February 19 by thefitbridesmaid Reading Kelly’s post yesterday about solutions to the obesity epidemic, reminded me of a paper I wrote five years ago for […]

  24. […] wanted to talk about something Kelly brought up on her blog.  She mentioned this statistic: Research studies show that most of the lifelong eating and physical activity habits are […]

  25. On days we have indoor recess at school, the kids and I do aerobics in the room…fun stuff like hopping, skipping, pretending to jump rope, jumping jacks…the kids love it. It would be easier to show a movie like a lot of teachers do, but I think it’s so important to teach kids to have fun with exercise!!

  26. […] wanted to talk about something Kelly brought up on her blog.  She mentioned this statistic: Research studies show that most of the lifelong eating and physical activity habits are […]

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