Wednesday, August 24, 2016
TV and Childhood Obesity ... Bah Humbug!
When my kids were growing up, they would watch several hours of television every day, and they were all much closer to being underweight than overweight, and my son didn't have an ounce of fat on him! They'd watch tv after breakfast, then go play. When they got hot (or cold), they'd come inside and watched tv while they cooled down or warmed up. When it was too cold outside, they'd play inside.
I think there is more of a link between what a child does when not watching television and obesity rather than how much television they watch ... and the type of food and snacks they eat.
My weekly trips to the grocery store included buying chips and cookies. Once they were gone, the kids had to snack on real food, like cheese or yogurt or fruit. If they didn't want any of the nutritious snacks, they had to wait until I went to the store the next week.
I never limited their television or snacks. Food was neither a reward or punishment. They learned that if they ate the junky snacks too quickly, they'd have to eat the healthy ones. Despite their lack of junk food late in the week, they all survived childhood. When it came to playing, they had a lot of options. They had a big backyard with a basketball hoop, swings, trapeze, ladders, and a tree house. They had bikes, roller blades, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, and hula-hoops. They had Lego's and blocks, baby dolls, board games stacked to the ceiling, and books from our frequent trips to the library. If they ever got bored, I tell them they could always clean their room, vacuum, mop, etc., and suddenly, they weren't bored anymore! At the very least, they quit complaining about it because I always had a ready-list of things for them to do.
Bottom line is, anything to excess is bad for you. Kids need a variety of foods (even junk food), and a variety of things to play with. Playing is how kids learn. It grows their imagination and spawns creativity. Unless a child has an illness or medication that makes them gain weight or prevents them from losing weight, it's a parent's fault if their child is obese. Snacking on junk food in moderation is fine. If you limit the amount of junk food in the house, the kids can't eat too much of it. If television or video games become a problem for your child, then you limit them. Take the kids for a walk or take them to the playground. Most kids will be thrilled to spend an afternoon at the park rather than watch cartoons.
I'm certainly no parenting expert, but some things are just common sense.