Children and Obesity
I recently talked to groups of children about being overweight and obesity. The amazing thing is they really understand this problem. Even speaking to kids who are first and second graders, one finds that they very quickly understand that:
- It is a rapidly growing problem.
- It is very bad for one’s health and limits the amount of fun one can have in life.
- Things like sugared sodas and sweets and treats are what cause a large part of the problem.
It is also clear that they absolutely love all the sweets and treats, video games, cartoons, and TV/couch time. They are just looking for someone to tell them that there are limits.
That is our job. As parents, as doctors, health care providers, as community leaders, our job is to set limits on all the things that are harmful for our young people and children. So, a little TV is okay, but more than an hour a day of any “screen time”, including TV, videos and computer time is too much, with the possible exception of computer time that involves homework, such as writing reports or doing school projects. Likewise, treats and desserts are okay once in a while. But dessert every day – too much. Dessert after every meal is way too much. Breakfast cereals that are basically themselves desserts – absolutely unacceptable. Meals that involve over 700 or 800 calories because of the inclusion of things like milk shakes and French fries: Absolutely unacceptable. French fries may be one of the world’s delicious foods, but it should be treated as an unusual, special treat. It certainly is not a staple.