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How and why parents can stop childhood obesity

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has become so rampant; researchers say the current generation of children may be the first to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. According to a new report, childhood obesity has quadrupled in the last forty years. According to a new study, parents can stop childhood obesity.

According to Edward Abramson, PhD. Abramson, professor emeritus at California State University-Chico, teaches psychology and is author of the books "Body Intelligence" and "Emotional Eating", it is completely up to parents to ensure their children eat well and get exercise. Childhood obesity has reached critical proportions. The result is increased health risk throughout life, low self-esteem, and shortened lifespan for obese children.

Abramson says in the past ten years, "we've seen a [tenfold] increase in Type-2 diabetes and psychological and social consequences, such as prejudice, rejection, discrimination and low self-esteem in children. More than 60 percent of overweight children have one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 20 percent have two or more risk factors."

When a child refuses food, Abramson says parents should retreat, and try again. He points out that children may have genetic preferences for certain foods that cause parental concern. He says, "For these children, it may take several repetitions (10 or more) to have a child try a new food, but parents should retreat gracefully and try again another day rather than get into a battle of wills when the child refuses a food."

Mothers who struggle with weight show more concern about preventing childhood obesity. Mothers are more concerned than fathers about their daughter’s weight says Abramson.

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Getting children to eat well can be a challenge. Parents can help childhood obesity by demonstrating good eating habits to their children. Allow your children to see you enjoying healthy foods. Teaching bad eating habits by introducing calorie laden foods into the household only promotes childhood obesity.

Allow your child help with food preparation. Abramson says, "If the child is in the kitchen cooking with Mom or Dad, it's unlikely that he/she will refuse the food that they've helped prepare." Cleaning fruits and vegetables in preparation for a fruit salad can stimulate your child to enjoy the healthy foods. Conversely children who spend time in the kitchen helping to prepare cookie and cake batters can lead to bad eating habits that promote childhood obesity.

Parents also need to help children promote a positive body image. Children who spend time with friends overly concerned about their appearance can have a detrimental effect on obese children.

It is important for parents to remain active to prevent childhood obesity. One study showed that children age four to seven whose parents were active, were six times as likely to be active. Parents also need to limit time spent in front of the TV and computer to stop childhood obesity.

Stopping childhood obesity is up to parents. Abrams says, "More than 60 percent of overweight children have one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 20 percent have two or more risk factors." Parents have a responsibility to stop childhood obesity, which has quadrupled over the last forty years.

American Psychological Association