How to Address Childhood Obesity

If we have cancer or a kidney disorder, the doctor is quick to tell you what your problem is. Why is it that no one wants to use the term “obese”? We definitely don’t want to use the term referring to the over-weight problems associated with a child. Obesity is becoming an epidemic among adults and now among children as well. Some medical clinics are reporting that up to 10-15 percent of their children they treat as patients have some obesity related problems. Many of the children they treat are at serious risk of diabetes or are currently being treated for diabetes. This was never a medical issue for some of these clinics 20-30 years ago. Some doctors feel they run the risk of angering the families and children if they use the terminology of obesity. According to the Center for Disease control, the current terminology is to state that a child that is overweight to be designated as “at risk to be overweight”. This is denial of the problem and encourages it to persist.

There is a proposal to change the terminology to be the same as the terminology that doctors use for adults that are either overweight or obese. The current system is on a percentile scale based on children from the mid 1990’s. The children then were much slimmer than our current children. With this factor, the children today are rating higher on the percentile charts. This would put them in a higher category. Whether or not we want to look at what the terminology is that we want to use, we have to face the fact that doctors are treating type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. What is this saying when medical clinics hardly treated these issues less than a decade ago? Now one out of seven children are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major issue and when seen in children, what are the medical issues going to look like, as they become adults. Diabetes, which is closely related to obesity, is already being treated in obese children. Obesity leads to the top medical killers, heart disease, stroke and cancer. In the US, the problem is out of control. The problem is not just a problem of overeating but it is a problem of nutritional choices. There is a serious lack in the diet of most Americans of the daily recommended fruits and vegetables. Our number 1 vegetable is the potato and we often eat that deep-fried. We are quickly becoming a product of our advertisements. If you go into a fast food restaurant, you are always asked if you would want to “super-size” that.

There are now laws on the books to protect restaurants from being sued for customer’s obesity problems. (The “Cheese burger” law) One parent told me that she was so tired of the “high-sugar” products that were being pushed on TV. She said they were aimed at the children and it made it impossible to shop without a fight with the kids. I told her I don’t have that problem because my children only watch videos 99% of the time but most of the time they are “OUTSIDE” playing. How can we fight this problem? What makes someone have a strong enough desire to lose the extra weight? I heard this story the other day. These two ladies were talking. One mentioned that she was a serious smoker of 20 years. She was divorced and she met Mr. Right. While talking with Mr. Right, he mentions that he can’t stand smokers then asks her if she smokes. Of course Mr. Right is “the” guy and she doesn’t want to lose him so she says that she doesn’t smoke. That was 6 months ago and after 20 years of smoking, she drops it like a hot potato because this would interfere with her target, Mr. Right. It was the emotional piece that stopped her smoking habit. With the child obesity problem, we have sugar coated it (literally) and fed it to them on a spoon for a few extra pounds that don’t really matter since we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. There was an article in the paper about a company that ran a contest for employees to lose weight. The contestants had an emotional piece that engaged them, the contest. The total weight lost was equivalent to one extra person. The winner of the contest commented that he felt so much better and more confident. In the same article, there was mention of another company that changed what they provided for their employees to snacks that were more nutritional.

These are situations that are being addressed through the workplace as a part of health awareness. When I was 25, I was a little overweight. According to my height, I was at the right weight but I don’t have a large frame and I felt I would do better if I were 10 pounds lighter. I started a very physically demanding job and inside 2 months, the extra 10 pounds were gone. A little later, I decided to lose 20 pounds more. I devised my own diet and lost the 20 pounds. For some people, losing weight is not that easy. Some people have to go on special diets and some people may choose surgery. I knew a lady that had surgery and when they were all done, she gave up another whole person! She lost a total of 120 pounds. What about children loosing weight? Whether it is a child or a young adult, it is usually easier because they can exercise as a part of their weight loss program. Some times it may take special diets or a Doctor’s prescribed diet. Whatever it takes, the difficulty of losing weight is generally less than the problems obesity brings.

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