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Should Parent Be Responsible For Child Obesity?
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Americans are obsessed about health and fitness and will do almost anything to look good. Plastic surgeons are getting rich doing makeovers on aging men and women; Dentists are multiplying in every neighborhood and getting popular with innovative techniques to produce brilliant teeth; and gyms and training videos are everywhere. In the midst of all this, childhood obesity is becoming America's greatest challenge in the 21st century.

How should we view childhood obesity? Health and fitness is certainly important for a nation's future... perhaps as important as defense... since obese children are likely to grow into unhealthy men and women; and would present a pathetic picture for a future fighting army. Healthy men and women begins with healthy children. Yet we must look at this situation with compassion and hope if we will ever find a solution. One view might be to see obese children as a victim of parental neglect; another view maybe to see them as spoiled undisciplined children who are making bad choices. Still another view is to see them caught in the dragnet of a technological society gone wild on processed foods. Whatever view we take however, must lead us to a solution that deal effectively with childhood obesity.

Take for example, Jeff Mathews [the name is disguised] who lives in a rich New Jersey suburb. Jeff, at age 15+ is 5 feet 7 inches, weighs 290 lbs and have learning problems. He is clearly overweight and having some of the possible side effects of obesity. According to his Doctor, Jeff's learning disabilities are linked to his weight issues. Jeff's own story confirms this as a historical fact. He was obese from childhood and this prognosis is not recent, it was the views of several medical professionals over the period of his life to this point.

Who is responsible for Jeff's obesity? The broader questions are: should we blame parents for childhood obesity? How should parents address obesity in their children? How do we fight childhood obesity?

I read a recent article stating that Seventh Day Adventist, in general, live longer than the general population.. in fact the article states they live ten years longer. A close look at the health principles followed by this group revealed a strong emphasis on a daily diet of vegetables and grains; regular exercises; breathing fresh air daily and daily meditation. They seem to be very happy people and as the article stated, they live ten years longer than the general population. This is a good model to follow because it seem like a proven system. If parent insist on proper foods in the homes and set the example with exercise and meditative rest, this could be a step in the right direction.

However, although I support a strong leading parental role, and the Seventh Day Adventist health model; combating childhood obesity is now a national challenge and will need more than strong parental discipline at home with obese children. It is a problem that is screaming out for national attention. The food supply needs to be addressed at a national level; Technology must be employed in a more positive way, to reduce obesity as a goal; and not just to increase profit margins.

Although we know that some forms of childhood obesity are due to genetics or due to diseased conditions; a focussed effort from scientist, parents, government and local communities can bring some attenuation and perhaps a permanent solution to this growing problem of child obesity. Let us start by educating ourselves on the best principles of diet, exercise and rest, and take our children's health seriously.


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