Childhood Obesity in West Michigan: The Burden of Technology
The times have changed; there is no secret to that. This generation has conquered technology and still continues to advance its ways. Technology provides us with many benefits, especially in the medical field, but the biggest downfall is the constant need to be attached to a screen. It is very common now to see children with some device in their hands, whether it is an iPhone, iPad, or some type of video game. While this is not the only factor in the childhood obesity epidemic in America, it is one of the main reasons.
There used to be a time when children would pick up a ball, walk to their friends house and go play ball. Playgrounds used to be filled with children running around playing tag. While moms did not approve, trees were meant to be climbed and tree forts occupied the whole weekend. There was no Netflix marathons, video game Saturdays or social media Sundays. The inactivity in our society has caused serious health concerns for both adults and children.
Some experts claim by 2015 that 75% of the adult population will be overweight and 41% will be obese. Think about that stat for moment, only a quarter of the adult population will be considered a healthy weight. It is the adult’s responsibility to educate and demonstrate a healthy living for the children. They instead join in with eating fast food and rewarding kids with cookies. These factors have caused nearly 10 million children and adolescents to be considered obese in America and Michigan is one of the worst states. In a time where the U.S. health care is in a debacle it is our society who can change it. The estimated annual cost for overweight and obesity related treatments are around 147 billion dollars. We not only are being inactive but we also are creating a healthcare problem.
There are many associated risks with childhood obesity. There is a higher risk of a cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, scoliosis, fatigue, joint paint and social discrimination. It is recommended that children be active for least 60 minutes a day but yet only 4% of elementary schools require physical education in their daily curriculum. Physical education used to be required for everyone, not only because it provides students with activity but also education. Now it is not uncommon for children to have a physical education class once a week or not at all even though 95% of parents believe that physical education should be in the daily curriculum. Physical education is important because it helps promote a healthy life, it is great for the heart, helps fights disease, and builds strength and fitness. Without physical education the children’s only source of activity and education comes from the home.
There are many ways to help fight against childhood obesity. The 3 best ways to complete this would be nutrition modification, increase activity, decrease screen time. If the whole family is supportive then modifying food choices will benefit everyone. If there is a need to educate or learn about nutrition then they can either hire a personal trainer, a dietitian or do some research. An easy way to increase activity would to be joining a sports team or planning daily activities like bike rides, hiking, going to the park, playing with friends. Then finally restricting screen time will make children think of other ways to occupy their time and will also help them become less reliant on technology. People use to say that technology is the future but our future depends on our health, so let’s make some changes and protect our future.