Saturday, July 07, 2007

Childhood Obesity

It's true today that more and more kids suffer from childhood obesity. In fact, it is a growing problem in this nation.

I recently took Meenie in for her four year physical and voiced my concern for her. She is 41 inches tall and 45 pounds - which puts her BMI (according to KidsHealth) at roughly 18.8 or in the 95% for her age. She she was 6 pounds at birth and dropped to 5 pounds, 10 ounces at her 1 week visit. However, just 3 weeks later at her one month visit she was a whopping 10 pounds already! Anyway, her doctor and I talked extensively about my concerns for her. He feels that she is fine right now and doesn't believe in diets for kids. Also, for us, it isn't lifestyle. We rarely keep chips/cookies/ice cream and other high fat snacks in the house. We do keep yogurt/fruit and fresh veggies in the house. The doctor believes genetics play a big part (Husband and I are both overweight). As for activity level, she is always on the go. She is involved in soccer and swimming lessons. During the day, we can be found horsing around outside in the yard, at the playground, on our bikes and hiking in the woods. In fact ,every morning when I used to drop Einey off at school, we would hit the track walking. I swear she can do a faster mile than I can!

Another thing the doctor and I discussed was how school physical education focuses too much on competitive sports and not enough on everyday sports. Instead of focusing so much on soccer, basketball and baseball, they should teach kids about swimming and bicycling and hiking. I know it's not feasible in most schools due to budget and space, but those are activities they can enjoy fully as an adult and with their families. Did you know there is a sport called "speed stacking?" I can't tell you how baffled I was to learn that Einey had a whole section of gym focusing on how fast she can stack cups. I mean, where is the sport/exercise in that? I still don't get it. Gym wasn't Eineys strong subject this year. She consistently got "meets the expectation" on her report card. But you know what, I'm okay with that because I know she is getting what she needs to know at home. She's the youngest and smallest in her class, so I know she isn't going to be the biggest, fastest or strongest! We celebrated when she told us she went from being 21 out of 22 in the 50 year dash to 17! For her, that was a huge accomplishment! In addition to soccer and swimming, Einey spent one afternoon a week at our local Audubon Society for an after school nature class. It's something she wanted to do this summer but wasn't old enough. There the kids took hikes and learned about nature. On one hike, while cleaning out the nesting boxes for spring, they found a pair of field mice who settled there for the winter.

Einey is on the small side. Eighteen months older than Meenie, she weighs in at 37 pounds - to light to even be in a booster seat by state laws! Moe is average for her age I think - she's about 27 pounds. All three eat the same, all three do relatively the same activities (Moe isn't involved in soccer, biking or swimming lessons yet).

One thing that always astonishes me when I see it is that children today do not spend enough time outside. The National Wildlife Foundation recommends that kids get "one green hour" a day of unstructured activity outdoors. One hour! How can kids not be outside for one hour??? That is nothing! I just cannot fathom that kids today don't spend that little time outside!

Between putzing around in our gardens (the veggies are growing finally!), looking for bugs and playing games, we spend more than that time. Sure, I have to be out there with them, but there is always work to be done. My gardens alone take up plenty of time. And when the kids get bored, I stop what I am doing and play games with them! Sometimes I turn on the sprinkler and let the just run, other times I had them bubbles or sidewalk chalk.

Now the garden is another story. I have found that we don't actually get many mature veggies out of our hard work. You see, there are six tiny hands that do an awful lot of picking the tiny veggies. I can't complain too much though because they are eating veggies and generally liking it. Although sometimes I would like to enjoy the freshness as well. There is nothing like fresh veggies right out of the garden! And our raspberry bushes - well they are 1/2 bare now. The girls have been raiding them morning, noon and night!

So I guess for now, we are going to encourage the girls to eat well and have plenty of outdoor activity time. If for nothing else, it will set them up with a lifetime of appreciation of nature and a sense of self.

1 comment:

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Personally, I think that living an active life (outdoors, as you describe), plus having parents who accept their own bodies is a big deal in deciding how kids will feel about their bodies. I cringe whenever I hear a mom say, in front of her daughter(s), that she is 'fat' or can't eat something because it will make her fat, etc. That kind of message screws with a kid's head, y/k?

Your girls look gorgeous and healthy and like they love life. And, yes, I also agree that genetics does play a big role in how we look. I'm glad to hear your doctor is supportive and not worried. Sounds like you guys do a lot of things right.