Angela Garcia Ascencio
ENGL 135 Professor Isenhour
What To Do To Fix It
With childhood obesity on the rise something needs to be done and quickly. There are three main ways that parents and caregivers can help children battle against this skyrocketing epidemic. The first method to battle the bulge is to simply stop serving children fast and over processed foods. The second way to beat the scale is to replace soda, and other sugary beverages with water. The third and most fun way to win the war on excess pounds is to set decrease screen time and increase fun movement time. Children need parents to guide them on how to be healthy and following these three simple steps will not only teach the child how to be healthy, but ultimately it will help everyone in the household become healthier.
The traditional family meal used to consist of a homemade meat, potato, vegetable, and sometimes a dessert. A family would sit down at approximately the same time every day at the dining room table and enjoy each other’s company while eating a home cooked meal. Nowadays, between both parents working, all of the after school activities, and a ton of housework that builds up who has the time or energy to even try to cook. More parents are turning to fast food restaurants, or quick boxed meals that are already prepared to feed their families. In fact, one of the most common fast food items that are given to children is a McDonald’s kids meal that includes chicken nuggets. Those four chicken nuggets contain 190 calories and a whopping 12 grams of fat, and do not forget the small fries that is an additional 230 calories and 11 grams of fat (McDonalds, 2014 p7). This means that for these two items a small child would be ingesting 420 calories and a massive 23grams of fat. The American Heart Association (2015) shows that children between the ages of 2-3 should only be consuming 25-35% of their daily 1000 calorie intake from fats which amounts to approximately 38 grams. It is because of the consumption of these types of calorie laden, overly processed foods that childhood obesity in America is on the rise.
To easily limit the extra calories due to excessive sugar intake all you have to do is no longer buy regular soda and juice that contain a ton of sugar and switch to drinking just plain water. The reason that this simple change works is because consuming sugary drinks increases caloric intake but it does not give the sense of feeling full and that is why they are considered empty calories. In a small Hi-C Orange drink that is commonly found in a kids meal from McDonalds contains a heart stopping 42 grams of sugar (McDonalds 2015 p10). In fact, a blind study of 477 children was done over the course of 18 months and they found that, “Children in the sugar-free group who completed the study gained 35% less body fat than those in the sugar group, according to impedance measurements, and 19% less when fat mass was calculated from the sum of the thicknesses of four skinfolds” (de Ruyter et al 2012 p1403). This study shows that simply changing from regular beverages with a lot of sugar to sugar-free will help decrease the amount of weight and unhealthy body fat that children will gain.
Figure 2: Is an example of the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations for daily intake amounts of 1000 calories, 38 grams of fat, and 17 grams of sugar vs. the amounts of calories, fats, and sugars in a typical chicken nugget kids meal with small fries, and a small Hi-C orange drink.
Movement and exercise is essential for weight loss and weight maintenance even for children. In fact, the American Heart Association (2015) recommends that parents make sure that their children participate in at least 1hour of vigorous physical activity a day. The activity can be 1 hour all at once or split up into two or three increments. The main objective is that parents need to remember is that the