By Dr. Francis E. Salazar D.O., M.P.H-Hollywood Primary Care
SOUTH FLORIDA – As a nation the United States is getting bigger, and the trend is based in the younger population – childhood obesity.
As foods became more abundant with the introduction of improved farming methods and food science more could be grown and processed to feed a larger population.
The access to more foods has led to numerous lobbies and investment in the food supply chain. The strength of the US dollar abroad overall has also made the acquisition of food easier.
Well someone has to eat all of this. So the marketing campaigns and advertisement now treats foods as any other product sold directly to consumers, and markets directly to children, convenience and ease of preparation are the angles on which patents are sold.
Neighborhood and school safety are other reasons children are not allowed to run around as freely as in previous generations, contributing to overall obesity.
Over the past two and a half decades it is well documented that minority populations suffer obesity more than Caucasian populations in the US.
This fact also places the Black population as the largest group overall (no pun intended) with this childhood obesity.
Black children as a major minority group tend to be more urbanized than other population subsets and with safety concerns parents are less likely to allow the children out into the neighborhood as previous generations did.
So, now there is more sitting at home being entertained by electronic means and eating. This is what bored children do.
Urban settings offer less safe recreation areas such as patrolled parks or other supervised activities. However many fast food restaurants in these areas are patrolled and protected. It is safer on the surface at least to be in a restaurant than in a park, how ironic!
Ways to combat childhood obesity:
- Solid foods: Make healthier food choices i.e. less caloric and more micronutrient rich and monitor the fat content of kid friendly meals.
- Beverages: Water! Water! Water! And some form of calcium i.e. milk or fortified juices in small quantities. No frequent juices or soda or any artificially sweetened beverages period!
- More active kids NEED more food and water. Less active kids NEED less food.
- Reduce snacking particularly high calorie dense snacks and replace with fresh vegetables or fruit choices where possible.
- Activity! Activity! Activity! Run, Jump, Shoot (baskets), bike, swim, walk, swing actively, etc… kids need activity to enhance circulation, strengthen bones, create strong muscles and burn calories. Electronic entertainment and sitting equals obesity.