There are a lot of things to consider when dealing with a touchy topic such as childhood obesity. The kids are touchy about it. They know what they look like and reminders aren’t always appreciated. The parents are touchy because they think it shows that they have bad parenting skills. The rest of society is touchy because they don’t necessarily want to do what it will take to stop the epidemic. Here are a few reasons we might want to take the touchy part out of it.
1) Bullies: Any child who is different is going to be a target for bullying. While more and more of our children are overweight, those who stand out in that category are going to be dead on bullseye. Being teased and tormented doesn’t help in any way, shape or form. In fact it’s harmful because the child may turn to food for comfort, making the problem worse.
2) Eating Disorders: People, especially children, want to fit in. Once a child has discovered that overeating is the cause (or one of them) for being out of the ordinary, they may try any number of methods to stop. Unfortunately, these methods can lead to bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders.
3) Education: A miserable child may have difficulties concentrating on what he or she is trying to learn. The focus may be inward, which makes listening and focusing on classwork extremely difficult.
4) Health Issues: This is the most important reason we need to protect our children from weight related issues. Young people in their early twenties are having strokes and heart attacks. Children are being treated for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes in growing numbers. Being overweight can cut years off of a life, and cause life altering conditions.
5) Self Esteem: Even without bullying, self esteem is going to suffer. All it takes is a mirror and the television set. Knowing that you are over the weight limit can cause poor body image. This can lead to depression and sometimes to serious problems. Some may become cutters, and some have committed suicide over this issue.
6) National Security: Because of the health issues caused by obesity, many men and women who want to join the military are being turned away. This matter has been brought up on news reports, and it is something to pay attention to. If our military has trouble getting new recruits, how are we going to be able to defend ourselves?
While everyone can help deal with this issue, the greatest burden is on parents. Instead of knocking them about having overweight children, we should offer them the support they need to make educated decisions on what their children consume and do.