Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Children Facing Adult Diseases – Who is Responsible?

The reports and statistics are out. The percentage of children who are overweight has doubled over the past 30 years. It is neither a surprise nor a secret – we see it with our own eyes. As our society has made great progress over the years in many areas of health, our children now face a major set back as they are diagnosed with diseases. These diseases once reserved for adults have moved into the younger generation. This means that our children and their children may lead unhealthy lives – living with diseases.

As a result, new chronic diseases have emerged while others will be prevalent through adulthood:

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Hyperlipidemia

  • Coronary Diseases

  • Stroke

  • Sleep related breathing disruptions
Who is Responsible?

We all are – parents, educators, physicians, nutritionists, family members and friends. The responsibility is upon the adults who play a role in a child’s life. The consumption of junk food, high caloric drinks, chips, cookies, and other snacks at large portions.We are responsible for teaching and leading by example. Do you have any fruits on your table/refrigerator? Are your cupboards filled with potato chips, cookies, candies, popcorn, etc.? Are you giving in to your child's request for fast food/takeout rather than cooking a nutritious meal?

I can recall as a child when we would go out shopping with my parents, we would ask to go to McDonalds, Burger King or Kentucky Fried Chicken. My parents would tell us to wait until we get home where they would then prepare a tuna sandwich or a peanut butter with jelly sandwich and we would enjoy it with a glass of milk. Our snacks would include an apple, pear, peach, plum orange, banana or some other fruit - and we really enjoyed it. Of course we enjoyed a slice of cake, cookies, ice cream or jello from time to time - it was our dessert. We especially looked forward to our Sunday dinners as it would be the treat after our meal.

The key to our intake was that our parents monitored our consumption. We also burned a lot of energy while playing with our family and friends. We would jump rope, play hop scotch, dodge ball, base ball, soft ball, roller skate, tag etc. Our children have computers (my space, facebook, twitter) video games that are also hand held (sitting and playing) hundreds of cable channels (VH1, MTV, BET) just in one position occupied for hours. While they sit around, they snack on chips, soda, cookies, ice cream, etc. As a result, the combination of sitting around and eating creates quite a problem.

Get your child actively involved in some form of physical activity. Do not depend only on the physical educational courses within their schools - get them involved in sports, dancing, jogging, etc.

Their future depends heavily on their present - you want the best for them - including their health. Can we blame the fast food restaurants? I would say no. The businesses are taking care of what they do - business. It's time for us as parents to take care of what we do - parenting - our business.

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