Childhood is that special time in life to explore and learn as much about the world as is possible. It is so wonderful to be carefree with no formal responsibilities such as paying bills and buying a house. Even though children are fueled by this natural energy they still require proper nutrition in order to grow to become big and strong adults. Sadly, some children are not as active as they should be and may even be stricken with chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are quite disturbing. Simply put, childhood obesity rates are at a high level. Obesity among young people in America between the ages of 2-19 has essentially remained unchanged since 2003. This rate currently stands at 17%. This number translates to nearly 13 million obese children and young adults.
Multiple factors are to blame for this obesity epidemic:
* overreliance on processed foods
* sedentary activities such as internet, television, and video games
* lack of interest in sports/physical activity
Young children need strong guidance from compassionate parents and schools to eat a healthy diet that can meet their nutritional needs. There is nothing wrong with indulging in an occasional slice of pie or cake, but these foods must be kept to a minimum. Children need to begin to appreciate food for its wholesomeness as early as possible so that this appreciation carries over into adulthood.
Some simple tips to help ensure children receive quality nutrition:
* replace highly ‘sugarized’ juices and sodas with milk, water, or tea
* avoid ordering large servings at dining establishments
* provide fruit as a dessert
* encourage children to try some vegetables
* serve less red meat at home and more chicken, turkey, and fish
On a happier note, the rate of obesity among children 2-5 years old actually decreased from 13.9% in 2003 to 8.4% by 2012. This shows there is some hope for the nation’s children. There is still much work to be done as statistically obesity rates tend to increase in older age groups.
Children should not have to suffer from the same chronic conditions some adults do. Without parental guidance, the childhood obesity epidemic may only get worse. The time to help children eat healthier is now, here and now. One day they will appreciate it.
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