It’s early on a Sunday morning, and I’m sitting here with my cup of coffee reflecting on the early morning vices of others. For some, it’s that sunrise cigarette. For others, it’s Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, in lieu of responsibilities. For some, it’s McDonalds—a sausage egg and cheese McGriddle, a couple breakfast burritos, the whole nine yards. America has a problem doing things we ought not to do, especially in the morning, at a time when it’s socially acceptable to be an asshole to everyone because that’s just how it is. Hence, I plan on being blunt. We have a collective problem getting out of bed in this country—but it isn’t because our beds are too warm; it’s because we’re too fat.
As was recently published by CNN, “The decline of childhood obesity rates seen in acouple of recent studies may be nothing more than an illusion, according to anew study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.” This statistic disappoints me. It’s no new news that we’re a fat country, but the rate of obesity in children perturbs me far more than it does in adults.
Children have no excuse to be fat. They have fast metabolisms, very little stress, and they make very few of their own decisions—which leads me to the first finger I plan on pointing over the next few 100 words. Parents of fat children, what’re you doing? My fondest childhood memories come in the form of playing at the park, riding bikes with my little sister, and even being forced to eat my fruit so I could go back outside and run around in the yard with my Dallas Cowboys football helmet on.
It is a parent’s responsibility to maintain the health of his or her child! But what blows my mind is that this doesn’t seem a hard thing to do! Play with your kids. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re kids!
Next let’s discuss what is easy versus what is right. It’s probably easy to buy your 4-year-old a McGriddle. It takes a little more time to cook them breakfast. It’s probably easy to hand them an iPad or an Xbox controller, versus taking them outside to play. Alas, what is easy is often not what is right—otherwise much more right would exist in this world, that much I’m sure of.
In a not-so-easy segway from the immense insightfulness of my previous sentence, I want to take a little more time to point finger No. 2 at technology. Technology, for all the good it does, provides perhaps the easiest excuse and the clearest reason for this ridiculous increase. I work at a fast-food restaurant, which shall remain unnamed for the sake of my journalistic integrity. But I can’t tell you how often I approach a table only to find an entire family of four who has recently devoured a massive meal and then proceeded to stare into their iPhones. No conversation, no illusion of love, just lots of twiddling thumbs. Thanks a ton, Apple.
This obesity isn’t only upsetting in theory. Beyond reflecting several negative parenting techniques and our collective inability to have real conversations due to our cell phones, there are very real health concerns associated with overweight kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Obese children are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes later in life. They're also at risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and psychological problems due to poor self-esteem. Studies show that obese children and adolescents arelikely to remain obese as adults.”
At the end of the day, there are a myriad of reasons to take better care of your kids. Health is paramount, but so is the eventual impact on self-esteem. Although I do a lot of parent blaming in this article, I realize that schedules are busy and money is tight and it’s not always easy. Still, the least we can do is try. That’s all I’m asking for.