Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States, affecting roughly 13.7 million adolescents and children. Fitness experts, like Jack Estes Debrabander, emphasize the importance of turning the trend of obesity among children around before it’s too late. A recent study at Wake Forest University, Duke University, and other esteemed U.S. colleges found that 26 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight.
“Despite clear evidence that junk food and a lack of exercise are detrimental to the health of our youth, our society continues to advertise junk food and limit the amount of exercise children are getting,” Jack Estes Debrabander says. “Less outdoor play time, microwaved meals, processed snacks. They’re all elements leading to the obesity of our nation’s children, and its not the child’s fault.”
Experts like Jack Estes Debrabander emphasize the importance of parents in the prevention of childhood obesity. “Parents need to understand that giving their children unhealthy foods and too much screen time can actually shorten the child’s lifespan,” Jack Estes Debrabander adds.
The New York State department of health also provides tips for parents, encouraging them to prevent childhood obesity before it starts. The department advises that parents promote a healthy lifestyle at home, focusing on a healthy diet and plenty of exercise as a family. It’s essential that parents are the deciding factor of which food is provided when.
“So many times, we see children controlling their own diets,” Jack Estes Debrabander says. “Parents need to establish themselves as leaders in this situation and not give into temper tantrums and fits.”
Professionals like Jack Estes Debrabander are continuously seeing children making essential decisions regarding their diet as well as where and when they eat. According to the experts, children should not eat meals or snacks in front of the television, and they should not be making their own snacks. Parents should assemble meals and snacks with a focus on maximum nutrition, including foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean meats.
“Kids simply don’t have the knowledge needed to create their own healthy meals and snacks,” Jack Estes Debrabander says. “We see busy parents allowing their kids to open the pantry or refrigerator and make a snack, but these kids don’t yet understand the correlation between healthy food and a healthy lifestyle.”
People like Jack Estes Debrabander, who understand the importance of a healthy weight for children, are continuously fighting the public health challenge of childhood obesity.
“We need parents to join us in the fight against childhood obesity by encouraging regular physical activity and healthy eating at home,” says Jack Estes Debrabander.