Friday, October 3, 2014

One Way to Fight Childhood Obesity

Child obesity is a growing problem in our country. There are many ways to combat this; buying healthier snacks and encouraging outside play are the top suggestions but where do we really start. How can we, as a country even begin to turn around this growing problem?  It begins with being an example to your children. By being an example of control and fitness. It begins by showing our kids that it is not OK to overeat and that watching TV all the time isn't good for you.

I have always been a big guy and even though I have lost some weight and I am being more fit I still have a big belly. My son, Jude, told me that he wants a big belly like mine. I didn't know what to say to him. On one hand, him saying this, means that he idolizes me and wants to be just like me when he grows up. On the other hand, he wants to be the worst part of me and the part of me I hate the most. When I was a kid I was always a bigger kid than most and because of being bigger I would be identified as a fat kid. Now that I am older and I look back at pictures of myself I see that I never really was not a "fat kid"; I was just bigger than the other kids. Being told I was fat by my peers made me think I was fat. I would identify myself as a fat person for the rest of my childhood. When I was a teenager I didn't care. I was fat; it was who I was, so why change it. So, I escaped into food, overeating and the indoors.

Now here I am sitting next to my 5 year old child, whom is also big for his age and trying to figure out why he wants to be fat too. When I look at him I am seeing the boy I used to be. I don't want to tell him that he can't be like me so what do I say? That is when I realize that his future is in my hands. Not because I control his food and exercise but because I am his example. If I can't live a life of good health and fitness then he will become that fat kid my childhood friends thought I was.

What can we as fathers (and mothers) do to fight childhood obesity? It is quite simple: Be a better example. Of course, this saying goes with many different situations. Don't want you kids to smoke: Don't smoke. Want you kids to go to church: Go to church. If you want your kids to be healthy and fit then you most live the same life. Even if you are naturally skinny your kids may not be so lucky so don't think you can eat a whole pizza around them and have them ignore it and only eat a little. They will see you doing it and think it is OK to wolf down a Little Caesars Hot & Ready on a Saturday night after playing video games for 9 hours straight. Go to the gym or take them for walks and tell them you are walking to be healthy. In the end, it isn't about how much weight you have lost or how much smaller you have become; it is about how you are living your life. They will see it and they will follow you.

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