Ways to Prevent Obesity in Children

Ways to Prevent Obesity in Children

Ways to Prevent Obesity in Children


Obesity has become a major concern affecting both adults and children. Perhaps the greatest threat to our children and even more so than diet is the lack of physical activity. Some people are blaming this on video games and television while others are encouraging activity with video games such as the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move or XBox 360 Kinect.<!–more–>

It was reported in the School Reform News that a decline in physical activity can usually be equated to an increase in obesity. During the past two decades the percentage of obese children and teenagers have doubled. This increase has coincided with the decline of mandatory physical education classes in many schools. Jenni Gaster Sopko of the National Parent Teacher’s Association urged that local PTA chapters should give serious consideration to reviving the old physical education classes that provide children with time to be active, sweat, and that help associate such activity with fun. Due to severe budget cuts this revival is not likely to come about any time soon. As parents we must look for ways to prevent obesity in our young children, teenagers and ourselves.

Sopko also noted that an increase in childhood dependency on high-tech games and gadgets has led to more sedentary lifestyles, and this needs to change. Video games, TV shows, and other forms of passive entertainment can be very appealing to a child who is already overweight. This only adds to the challenge in motivating obese children to engage in physical activities.

Burdette and Whitaker, authors of Resurrecting Free Play In Young Children, have also recognized fundamental changes in how children tend to play stationary games today as contrasted from historical physical activities. Since children – much like adults – generally view exercise in a gym as dull and monotonous, they should be encouraged to become involved in enjoyable physical activities that hold their attention.

There are many organized team sports that children and young adults can participate in such as baseball, football and soccer. Yet, not everyone is geared towards team sports. Swimming, golf and tennis are wonderful activities for those that have the facilities available to them. For others biking, hiking, jogging and even dancing have an appeal. The key is to try to find some activity that appeals to you and that you are willing to participate in on a regular basis.

Dr. Dan Copper of the University of California maintains that children need around 40 to 50 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous daily physical activity to realize an optimal benefit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 60 minutes divided up throughout the 24-hour period. For example, of the total 60 minutes in physical activity, 20 minutes might include jogging in the morning, another 20 minutes of gym class in school and then finally the last 20 minutes playing baseball before dinner. The options are as endless as the imagination.

To help initially motivate inactive children, some of their otherwise normal TV or video game time could be offered in exchange for a comparable amount of physical activity. Eventually, instead of staring at the TV or computer screen, obese children may actually find greater enjoyment participating in a sport with friends who have a similar fun interest.

Another option that is becoming very popular and seems to be a win-win proposition is activities like the Nintendo Wii and newer active games like PlayStation Move or XBox 360 Kinect.  Nintendo has come out with the Wii Sport with games like tennis, golf, baseball, boxing, bowling and more, and the recently released WII Fit where you can actively lean to block soccer balls, swivel hips to power hoop twirls or balance to hold the perfect yoga pose. As you stand on the Wii Balance Board, included with Wii Fit, your body’s overall balance is tied to the game in a way you’ve never experienced before. Not only that but Nintendo has thought this game out thoroughly with the Wii Balance Board for daily tests. These evaluate two key measures that a household can track via progress charts, including:

Body Mass Index (BMI) – A weight evaluation based on a ratio of weight to height

Wii Fit Age – The Wii Fit Age is measured by factoring the user’s BMI reading, testing the user’s center of gravity and conducting quick balance tests

Wii Fit includes more than 40 types of training activities designed to appeal to all members of a household. Training falls into four fitness categories –

Be it an interactive video game or active participation in a sports activity. Just find a way to enjoy physical activity and this will go a long ways towards maintaining a sensible weight.

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