Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Differant Kind of Child Abuse

An article in Time magazine this past week had a special health section on America’s Super-Sized kids. The main points of the article summing up that it’s not only genetics (no kidding) and we only have ourselves to blame (this one I’m sure was hard to print.. no one to blame..). I know, not big revelations for the already swimupstreamer, but the article did go into further details. The likes of being the amount of tv watching/video games kids play, the lack of physical activity in and out of schools, the awfulness of school lunches, the general availability of junk vs healthy options.

It’s actually quite appalling and makes you wonder how we let this happen – because I assure you it wasn’t overnight. The article also goes into to detail how the parents are not taking responsibility – like, it’s not their fault, he’s just big boned. Right – so we have 40% more big boned kids today than we did 20 years ago.... right, nice try.

Only 1 in 4 kids takes part in sports or any physical activity today, kids used to have 3 cups of milk for every cup of soda, and up to 4 hours a day are spent in front of a TV now. And that goes along with a slew of physiological health complications – From liver and kidney failure to type 2 diabetes – ailments that used to be an old persons problem. All of this is easily preventable if the parents were to take responsibility over it. Who does the grocery shopping and buying the sodas? Who’s buying video games and cable TV, or choosing to opt out of investing time with their children’s well being by finding a sport they enjoy and can gain some valuable life skills from? I’m sure there are a billion and one reasons (ie: excuses), but the fact of the matter is that someone needs to take control and it starts at home. If I were one of these fat kids and grew up to be constantly having to battle with my weight and health problems (nevermind the emotional stress) I’d be questioning and interrogating my parents well into my adult years: ‘why did you feed me that crap and watch me get fat? Why didn’t you do anything to prevent it?’

This has always been a topic that has bothered me. It really is child abuse in every sense – the child is being set up to deal with a lifetime of physical, personal, and emotional issues having to do with being overweight and overindulging. Every day while walking down the street we see overstuffed and overfed 5-year olds while their ‘parents’ are seemingly oblivious.. and we’re talking about toddlers and kids here, not adults. Kids are innocent in the sense that they really have no concept of the foods they are choosing and have no clue of the later repercussions, but the parents often do. I mean, seriously, if your 3 year old weighed 80 lbs would you not think something was wrong – would you not listen to your doctor, friends, or your own parents telling you (because someone would have to be telling you, if you didn’t already know the obvious) that your kid can’t continue to chow down on McDonalds and sugary sodas. ‘Oh but that’s what Susie likes.’ Uh huh.. and if you were given the choice between eating a snickers bar and a bowl of steamed broccoli and you thought both were nutritionally equal in value which one would you choose... thought so.

In a world that is already full of corruption and numerous other kinds of abuse, would you not want to start your child off on the right foot? Give them the greatest advantage they possible could have? Why would someone have kids if they didn’t want the best for them? I mean if this was survival of the fittest, America would have been extinct long ago. It is beyond me how parents can willingly stand by and watch their kids become enormous - Do they not care? Are they really that impartial to their kids health and well being? Because It’s not genetics and it’s not big bones. It’s the parents and the choices they are making every day – do we or do we not instil healthy habits onto our kids – it’s a choice – so make it and stand by it. If the answer is no, then you are placing yourself in the same category as all the other types of abuse inflicted on kids. If yes, then start today – throw out the Oreos, stop going through the drive through on the way home because it’s easy, spend time outside being active with your kids, demand more PE time at your kids school, don’t let your kids dictate their diet (say no to the junk – yes, a few tantrums will ensue, but in the long run it will be worth it). And most importantly educate your kids why, why it’s important to eat healthy and be active. They may not understand now, but I guarantee, they will be thanking you later. And if you need to educate yourself first (ignorance is also an excuse, not a reason) then do that and set an example. Because until you can take responsibility, you are continuing to subject your sweet Susie to child abuse.

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