The world is changing at a pace that has never been seen before. The United States of America is no exception to that. In this country we face new and evolving issues that impact the future of generations to come. The youth have been most susceptible to one issue in particular, that is childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, Flegal, 1999). The implications of this disease have long lasting effects that debilitate and cases end in death. Obese children may experience immediate health consequences, as well as can lead to weight-related health problems in their adult years. Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. In a sample of 5-to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of overweight children had at least one CVD risk factor and 25% of overweight children had two or more CVD risk factors. In addition, studies have shown that obese children and teens are more likely to become obese as adults (Health Problems, 2013). These are no small health issues that come from obesity. What can be done? There are symptoms of a problem and the root cause where things begin to go wrong. In most families children from birth to age four are at home with their families. This time is spent learning and growing. Children began to establish a basic understanding of how their lives should be lived. During this time many children begin to develop certain tastes for different foods. As they get older and begin to move more they began to develop certain ideas as to what physical activity is. Then as they go to school and began doing more outside of their home, they are faced with even more choices on what to eat and what activities they should be doing. Eating, physical activities and the environment they face outside of their homes all intersect with their parents. Childhood obesity is a problem in the United States and parents need to be more involved in their children’s physical activities, proper nutritional education and in being involved in shaping healthy communities to have healthy generations to come. Parents are the beginning to every child’s journey in this life. Parents play the key role of being the gatekeeper in helping their children to not just do healthy activities, but to live healthy lives.
Parents begin their mission of raising their children with their own lives. Children gain perspective on what it is to be a person by watching their parents. One of the first insights into life that children gain is what food to eat. They start with milk and then continue into more of what the family is eating. However, from birth genetic predispositions are modified by experience and in this context during the early years parents play a particularly important role (Benton, 2004). At this stage children have a genetic disposition to certain tastes. Children come equipped with a biological set of taste predispositions: they like sweet and salty tastes and energy-dense foods, and they dislike bitter and sour tastes. But they develop most of their food habits through expo-sure and repeated experience (Lindsay, Sussner, Kim, Gortmaker, 2006). As Lindsay explains, there are certain genetic dispositions that drive children to survive and eat sweet and salty foods. Children’s taste dispositions are structured to seek after things that will keep their bodies going. That is why it is even more important to expose children to other foods at a young age. If they do not receive this exposure they are left closed off to eating habits that contain healthy foods in combination with those energy rich foods.
Simple exposure to a novel food item will decrease the neophobic response in both 2-y olds and adults (Tribe, 2008). The neophobic response is the disposition