An article to a parents’ magazine on children obesity, with reasons and suggestions offered
It’s recently found that 1 in 5 children is overweight—and Hong Kong kids are not immune to the global epidemic of obesity. Not only does obesity impose menace and potential risks to our children’s health, but it will also adversely affect their self-esteem. Therefore, fighting children weight wars is an uphill battle, we, the parents should never wave the white flag. In order to figure out comprehensive solutions, we should first delve into the phenomenon. What leads to childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity stems from the ‘pull and push’ factors. It’s easy to understand—children eat too much calorie-rich food (input) while doing too little exercise (output). As a result, our kids become fat, chubby or even obese. Everyone knows that, but what are the underlying reasons?
The first to blame is the catering sector i.e. all sorts of fast food and take-away shops. They promote vigorously the fast food trend—oily, salty and saturated with calories but no nutrients through overwhelming advertisements. Our impressionable children, and parents sometimes, are lured to consume the ‘yummy-yet-not-wholesome food’, eventually falling victims to being overweight.
The social atmosphere accounts for the kids’ obesity issue as well. Let’s conduct a simple survey here. How many extra-curricular activities have you signed up for your little darlings? Have you spared some time to let them monkey around? It is not our fault, but the society as a whole. Hong Kong society is severely ill, with the norm to force every child to be the brightest and promote the ‘winning at the starting line’ concept. Thus, many parents arrange a myriad of activities for their children, posing tremendous workload on them. Consequently, they bear the brunt of lacking time to work out or simply being too idle to do any sports since they are already caught in unrelenting load and stress.
As parents, decoding the root causes of childhood obesity is not alone the major concern, what we are longing to know more are the solutions.
Still remember the pull-push factors mentioned before? Let’s start from the pull side, the diet. Parents should indeed cook for children instead of dining out. Lunchboxes are usually greasy, calorie-dense, high in sodium and containing excessive meat and inadequate vegetables. It is unhealthy and is even detrimental to health. Other than home cooking, yummy snacks like berries, yogurt and so on can be offered to our children as healthy snacks.
Moving to the aspect of exercise, there’s even more we can do. Simply relax their tight schedules a bit and set three times a week for them to hang around on a playground nearby, better 1.5 hour each time, as recommended by WHO. This can already help a lot. If you aren’t available of taking them out, intensive classes for physical training or activities like swimming can be arranged. Sports are not barriers to, but catalysts for more exceptional academic achievements in fact.
Children being obese is a perilous alarm, but being underweight does no good at meantime. We should teach our kids not to attach value to their weight and avoid dieting at such a young age. Only through our appropriate guidance can our children grow up healthily—let’s protect our sweethearts from obesity’s evil claws!
Lam Nga Ting