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Whittling away childhood obesity requires parental help

Childhood obesity is on the rise in America, which prompted first lady Michelle Obama to do something about it.

 Dr. Timothy Moore

Childhood obesity is on the rise in America, which prompted first lady Michelle Obama to do something about it. In 2010, she launched the “Let’s Move” initiative to combat this burgeoning menace to America’s children. But Mrs. Obama can’t do it alone. It’s going to take a collective effort from all of us – and, of course, from the parents too – to steer children toward healthier lifestyles.

“We want to eliminate this problem of childhood obesity in a generation. We want to get that done,” the first lady told a reporter during an exclusive interview on “Good Morning America” that year. But getting parents to encourage their children to eat healthy and exercise may prove futile if parents themselves are obese and living sedentary lifestyles.

A few days are left before school is out for the summer. It’s getting hot already and the thermostat will continue to register temperatures, more than likely, above normal. When summer finally arrives, Twinkies, cupcakes, potato chips and sodas will literally walk off the shelves. They will be eaten and guzzled by children who have nothing better to do this summer than sit around in a lazy stupor and add more pounds to their girth.

But parents, since you’re the breadwinner, it’s up to you to provide nutritious foods for your children to eat while they’re on summer break. And there is no excuse for not getting them involved in some kind of physical activity to keep them from lapsing in lethargy this time of year. Mrs. Obama has taken the lead. Now it’s up to you.

If you don’t believe that childhood obesity is on the rise, you might want to follow the latest statistics: One of three children is obese. Experts have also reported that if a parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that their children will be obese as well.

The main thing to change when your child is on summer break is his/her poor, unhealthy eating habits. Start by getting rid of the Twinkies, cupcakes and potato chips. Stay away from highly processed fatty foods, fast foods, sugary sodas, packaged sweets, candy and the like. And learn to read the ingredients on food labels as well.

Summer is not the only time of year when children overeat. In fact, they tend to overeat throughout the year, particularly during summer when there is too much spare time on their hands. If lethargy sets in, you can expect emotional discomfort, stress, binge eating and the addition of unwanted pounds.

People who are obese, I presume, live to eat rather than eat to live. Emotional eating, for example, is just as bad and unhealthy as choosing the wrong foods to eat. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out that children tend to make the wrong food choices just like their parents. And, then too, they’re suffering from some of the same diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and sleeping disorders.

Parents, let’s get down to what really works if you want your children to drop those unnecessary pounds – exercise. It will relieve stress and make them feel a whole lot better. Start them off by walking, jogging and swimming to get their heart rate up. Mrs. Obama said it best: “We want our kids to face a different and more optimistic future in terms of their lifespan.”

The lives of obese children may be cut short if their weight is left unchecked. The parents and their overweight children must work together on a plan to whittle away the weight pound by pound. Which brings me to my next point: The cost of obesity is at an all time high: $147 billion to $190 billion a year. It’s escalating out of control. Mrs. Obama’s obesity campaign is creating awareness, but more education is needed.

The key, of course, is awareness. Parents, if you get more involved in shaping your children’s lives and acquiring more information about the dangers of obesity, you and your children will be better off health-wise. Also, teach them how to prepare a simple meal at home using fresh vegetables to help them control or eliminate obesity altogether.

Mrs. Obama is on to something. She understands the gravity of obesity.

(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)


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