Our population has trended away from an outdoor, high-activity oriented lifestyle. Children used to spend their afternoons, weekends and summer season playing out of doors. There were also physical chores expected of every child in order to maintain the operations of the home. Television watching was restricted to a few shows a week and there were only two to three channels available to watch.
The world today is all about constant electronic entertainment, most of which is sedentary in nature. With the exception of organized sports or activities, the amount of physical exercise that children are involved in has deteriorated significantly. According to The Campaign to End Obesity, only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools provide daily physical education for all students.
The problem of obesity in the United States continues to escalate. The increase in childhood obesity is heartbreaking when you consider the lifelong impact on their physical and psychological well being.
In 1980, only 7% of children aged 6-11 were obese. In 2012, that number had increased to 18%. Similarly, in 1980, only 5% of adolescents aged 12-19 were obese compared to 21% in 2012. That means that adolescent obesity quadrupled in 32 years! A study in 2008 showed that, without intervention, over 90% of overweight teens will become obese adults.
If obesity rates stay consistent, by 2030, it is anticipated that 51% of the population will be obese!
The negative effects of obesity are extensive. Obesity is linked to more than 60 chronic diseases. The psychosocial impacts include stigmatization, poor self-esteem, and reduced professional opportunities, in addition to the potential risk for the development of eating disorders, depression and anxiety.
The negative health effects of obesity are seen in all body systems. Some of the most serious health concerns from obesity include:
- Cancer – Women who are obese have increased risk for cancer of the breast, uterus, colon, and gallbladder. Obese men have a higher risk for cancer of the colon and prostate.
- Type II Diabetes – Type II Diabetes can lead to a ten-year reduction in life expectancy. Two-thirds of people in the US with Type II Diabetes are overweight or obese.
- Coronary Heart Disease – Plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries and can narrow or block the arteries, reducing the blood flow to the heart muscle. This can result in angina, heart attack, or heart failure.
- Sleep Apnea – A condition where a person has one or more pauses in breathing while sleeping. About half the people with sleep apnea also have high blood pressure and are at risk for stroke and heart failure.
- Osteoarthritis – Joints and bones are affected by the wear and tear from obesity. The knees, hips and lower back are often affected by osteoarthritis, when the cushions that protect the joints wear away.
The statistics are serious and the time to take action is now. Taking even small steps every day to move your body will improve your physical activity and lead to better health. Some ideas to get you moving include:
- Get involved in group activities
- Volunteer at local charities
- Meet your neighbors on a walk around the neighborhood.
- Reduce your screen time. You won’t miss a thing.
- Get outside and become a tourist in your home town.
- Try something new like Geocaching – The World’s Largest Treasure Hunt.
- Use your smartphone apps to help you achieve your health goals. You can track your steps, train for a 5K in no time at all, or try one of the many fitness bracelets that make progress fun, easy, and competitive.
Ultimately, there are thousands of things to choose from. It isn’t terribly important which of them you choose. It only matters that you make the choice to do something today.
One day and one step at a time, you can change the negative effects of obesity into a more healthy life. To help your child or adolescent make a permanent change towards a healthier life contact Wellspring Camps at 1-844-868-8916.