The childhood obesity epidemic weights heavy on our hearts -- and especially on our kids.
Nothing is quite as heartbreaking and saddening than catching a glimpse of an overweight child and simply wondering aloud or to yourself any number of questions but perhaps none as prominent as this one:
How does this happen? September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month but the answers to this question is few, far between and anything but definite.
Pinpointing exactly the cause of childhood obesity isn't realistic. Any number of factors contribute to the fact that more than 20 million kids and teens are considered obese, not simply overweight. The overweight number is even more staggering -- as in about double that 20-million total.
The natural reaction and root cause of kids being terribly overweight can be attributed to a lack of activity and subsequently the arrival of smart phones, advanced video gaming, tablets and computers that make it easy to skip the skipping and opt to instead surf the internet.
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Fitness for kids is a lost art. When health clubs and gyms make it a point to market to adults, kids don't have much of a fitness selection. Dr. Levi Harrison is the creator of The Art of Fitness. This unique take on fitness is from the point-of-view of a physician, who also is an orthopedic surgeon. Not only is Dr. Harrison adept in preventing injury and promoting optimum fitness but also is an expert in childhood obesity.
His mission and message is fairly clear-cut in that activity and the embracing of it, along with changing eating habits in general, make for a more well-rounded and less rotund child. The adults certainly could benefit from that same mentality as well.
Specialized fitness certainly is of note for kids, and that's not to suggest the antiquated "fat-camps" that are designed and deviously marketed as simply summers away from home. The thinking is that kids' training schools, such as the Parisi Speed School, bode well for kids not only for specific sports training but also to build confidence and instill a healthier conscious for children in place of electronics. Parisi Speed School, a national brand with training facility franchises around the world, trains athletes of all shapes, sizes and skill levels but also empowers youth with a fitness-first ideology.
A comparable, albeit different facility, is the Pritkin Longevity Center in Miami. It offers programs for kids and parents alike to educate them on eating, exercise and generally accepted choices and habits in terms of overall healthier lifestyles. Pritkin Longevity is not only loaded with medical experts and nutrition specialists but also personal trainers and a laundry list of spa and wellness treatments. Adding kids into the mix as far as the Pritkin services go is a remarkably admirable gesture.
Food is a factor, if not a major culprit, in this war of the weight with kids. The easy synopsis is as follows: bad food is cheap; healthier fare is pricey.
A salad at a fast-food restaurant is between $5-6; a double cheeseburger is $1. Parents struggling with time management and feeling overwhelmed between work, bills, perhaps a second job and the balancing act that is day-to-day life may decide to forgo a healthy, home-cooked meal in favor of take out or a fast-food window.
The result is kids eating chicken nuggets and French fries, instead of grilled chicken and vegetables.
The food aspect and promoting activity and after-school fare seem to contradict one another but at a closer look can actually go hand-in-hand. Kids need exercise, plain and simple. But that can't come at the expense of eating right.
Parents need to take responsibility to plan out meals accordingly, prepping them beforehand and encouraging kids to eat at a certain time as a family and limit the amount of time they're playing with their phone or computer. On days when after-school activities or sports aren't an option, parents should designate a time to take a walk with their kids or just run around for no reason in the back yard or local park.
Parents have to be role models for their kids both overall and as far as eating goes. A healthy-eating adult with good habits often has kids that emulate that same behavior. Parents who consume lots of vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates and proteins instead of microwavable dinners, frozen pizzas and salty snacks likely stand to have better odds that they're kids won't gravitate toward the latter selection food.
If parents don't buy it, kids probably won't eat it.
In addition to smart food choices, vitamins should play a huge part in nutrition. Kids multivitamins -- perhaps none as renowned as USANA USAnimals -- are essential in melding proper eating with supplements. USANA is considered one of the foremost experts in nutrition as far as quality, testing and implementation of products that are considered incredible.
Kids already carry plenty of burdens, both as students and as future adults poised to lead a new generation.
Carrying around excess pounds shouldn't be part of that equation.
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