By Latreal Mitchell
Let’s just start with the facts and the scary statistics of what’s going on today. Children in the U.S. today are less fit today than children in earlier generations.
Many children have early signs of cardiovascular risk factors such as:
· Physical inactivity
· Excess weight & Obesity
Resulting in (already!):
· High Blood Cholesterol
· Elevated blood pressure
According to the American Heart Association, about one-third of U.S. adults (33.8%) are obese. What’s worse, because they are starting so young, is that 4 million children have above normal blood pressure and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.
According to the CDC, about 90 percent of children and adolescents ages 5–17 (47 million persons) use computers, and about 59 percent (31 million persons) use the Internet. The average child aged 8-12 plays 13 hours of video games per week, while teens aged 13-18 play 14 hours of video games per week. Computer fluency is needed in many, if not most careers, so this would not be disturbing except in light of what is being traded off.
Contrast the statistics above with children today who now go a whole day without any physical activity. Physical Education classes in most schools have been cut down to once or twice a week, and in some schools they have been eliminated altogether. In most high schools, physical activity is limited to those kids who are on a varsity team. I can’t imagine as a child going an entire day without being active; I can’t imagine that as an adult.
Fitness Bunch runs Summer Sports and Fitness Programs. One summer a parent signed up her daughter and I gave her a list of the approved foods and snacks. She said “You don’t have potato chips listed” and I answered that it’s not an approved snack. She said, “Well I purchased a large variety pack of chips from Costco and she has to eat it.” I looked at her and said, “So since you have made a bad choice in picking a suitable snack for your daughter, she has to eat it?” She looked at me and said, “Yes, it won’t kill her.” Really? I was at a loss for words, and did I mention that her daughter was overweight? She couldn’t see it at that moment, but she is slowly killing her daughter. I had another young lady in our program that was overweight as well, and her mom sent her with Frosted Flakes in a baggy for a snack. It was really apparent that 90% of the parents paid absolutely no attention to the list of approved snacks that I provided.
One day I brought in my snack, which was a bag of nut mix that I make at home with raw almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, and blueberries. The same young lady that brought the Frosted Flakes for a snack asked me if she could try my mix. She tried it and loved it! So I told her that I would give her the rest of the trail mix if she agreed to throw away her sugar-coated cereal. Without hesitation she tossed the baggy and finished the nuts. The moral of the story is our kids will eat whatever we introduce them to. We are filling our kids with sugar, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods and wonder why they are so lethargic, unable to use their brains in school, and have weight issues.
I’m the spokesperson for your children, since they don’t know any better and will do whatever you say. It’s time as parents to educate yourself about healthy eating and how to incorporate it into your family’s lives. It’s a parent’s responsibility to lead by example, and provide their children with healthy choices. Children don’t do the grocery shopping, parents do. They didn’t ask to be brought here; you decided to be a parent. So it is up to you to make a better life for them and yourself. Your child’s very life depends on it!