What You Can Do To Help Fight Childhood Obesity

I need for you to know the shocking statistics that face children today. Not to make your jaw drop. But I do want to bring about some awareness of the issues children face and how we, as adults owe it to them to guide them through such troubling times. The mental disorder with the highest mortality rate isn't depression. Nor is it schizophrenia. It's eating disorders. Up to 20 percent of those with eating disorders cave in to their illness.

More than 90 percent of those who develop bulimia or anorexia, or some combination of the two, are young women in their teens and 20s. The sad part is that most develop the disorder in adolescence (ages 13-19). American colleges report that all three disorders are growing on campus, oppressing up to 40 percent of students at some point during the student years.

At any one time, about 2 to 3 percent of adolescents have bulimia, and 0.5 to 1 percent of adolescents have anorexia. According to child psychiatrists, 13 percent of high school girls purge.

Eating disorders have doubled in incidence since the 1960s, and increasingly they are striking in younger age groups. They also increasingly occur in diverse ethnic and sociocultural groups.

I'm starting to see weight issues arise at a younger and younger age. I'm sure you know that self-esteem issues go hand in hand with having weight related issues. Studies show that girls as young as 5 are affected by how others perceive them.

When children start to experience weight gain parents often restrict the child's food choices because they are trying to "help" them in their weight loss efforts. I understand the premise behind it. But what ends up happening to the child as a result is quite sad. They start learning to place labels on foods. They will repeat what is being taught at home. Since they have restricted nutritional choices they will start to label foods as "healthy" and "unhealthy". Sure, you would think that is a good thing, right? But what happens when that child grows up and then binges on that food choice that was labeled "unhealthy" all there life. Can't this behavior be avoided by parents being more inclusive rather than exclusive? Would it be beneficial to teach children what portion control is?

There's much information in the media about childhood obesity. Parents should spend more time finding ways for their kids to be more active, what a portion size is, how to include more nutritiously dense food and enjoy the more refined options in moderation. This behavior wold be more beneficial for children in the long term.