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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Childhood Obesity: Why Are Kids Today So Fat?

I was buying lunch at a hawker center a few days ago. I spotted a family of four - a boy, no more than 8 years old, a girl slightly younger than him. And of course their parents. The boy, with a waist line that's as big as mine, has a huge plate of chicken rice in front of him. Next to it is a bowl of peanut soup dessert with glutinous rice balls and a big glass of sugar cane juice. The girl was having the same except for the peanut soup dessert. One look at their table and you could have easily mistaken it is a feast for 10 people.

With this kind of diet, it's no surprise that the kids looked overweight. But hey, chubby kids are cute kids right? Oh by the way, did I mentioned that throughout the entire meal, the boy was being spoon fed by his mom while he was busy playing his PSP?

Looking at this scene, I started thinking back at how much things have changed. Why is childhood obesity increasing at such an alarming rate today?

Is it genetics that caused this? Well, the parents of the fat kids are not overweight. But kids can certainly inherit attitudes towards food from their parents.

Is it technology? Probably. But we as humans have free will and have control over technology instead of letting technology control us.

Then is it our attitudes? Definitely.

Perhaps a clearer way to examine the situation today is to compare what kids have today versus we had in the past.

Past: For entertainment, we as kids gather a group of friends and play soccer or tag. All our activities are physical. We run around all day and get all sweaty and sticky at the end of the day. Even though we drink a lot of soda, we never seem to get fat.

Present: For entertainment, kids today stayed indoors and exercised their fingers playing PS3, PSP, XBox, Wii, NDS, iPad while slurping on soda and eating pop corn. They are discouraged from playing outside by their over protective parents.

Past: Our meals are mainly home-cooked with little or no MSG. McDonald's was a rare treat from our parents on weekends or as a reward if we do well in our exams.

Present: Due to the busy schedules young parents have these days, meals are often settled outside. Fast food and processed food became a main stay in kids diet today. Want McDonalds? Sure, it is just a phone call away and they deliver right to your doorstep!

Past: During family outings, we held hands with our parents and walked together. When we were tired, our parents offered their warm embrace and carried us till we are ready to carry on walking again.

Present: Kids today don't even walk any more. Apparently, children these days get so comfortable with their prams when they're growing up, they stay attached to it even when they are five years old! When they have outgrown their prams, they still won't need to walk because they can "glide". Their foolish parents buy them roller shoes that not only make their kids lazy, but also create a hazard to people around them.

Past: Our parents sign us up for Taekwondo lessons to balance up additional tuition classes.

Present: Parents today are so obsessed with academic results that they overwhelm their kids with tuition classes, computer classes, music classes and other non-physical activities.

Past: We were breast-fed.

Present: Babies today are bottle fed. Nutritional benefits aside, studies have shown that constant breastfeeding builds an unparalleled psychological bond between the baby and the mother. In our ever competitive society, it's not uncommon to find families where the babysitters spend more time with the babies than their parents. Because of this, babies today are more bottle fed than breast-fed.

As long as the babies are still getting breast milk, albeit from a bottle, there's still some natural nutrition there. But some babies are given an early introduction to processed milk! Chemically enhanced milk formula replete with scientific abbreviations that even their parents themselves don't even know are flooding the marketplace today. Promising faster mental and physical developments, some mothers actually prefer the formula to their own breast milk!

Are we so sure that infant formula is better than breast milk? Do we know if there are any long-term side effects? With so much emphasis on consuming organic food today for health, isn't it ironic that so many parents today are risking their precious babies by choosing processed milk over the most natural and nutritious of all baby feeds - the breast milk.

Times sure have changed. Along with those changes, we unknowingly cause our kids to be overweight and unhealthy. The examples above may not necessarily reflect your experience or culture. But I'm sure most of us can relate to at least few of them.

While there's nothing wrong with spoiling your kids every once in awhile, we should always take a step back and think about whether what we are feeding our kids today and engage them in activities that strike a good balance between physical and intellectual. Otherwise, your kids may end up trying to figure out how to get slim for most of their adult life.

If you are looking for the quickest way to lose weight, you can download your free fat loss starter kit from 10 Minute Corporate Fat Loss Plan site.

From Daniel Ho: The Fat Loss Specialist for Working Professionals

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