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A Weighty Problem: Childhood Obesity — Causes and Cures

Azriela Jaffe

Childhood obesity is on the rise. And we know how damaging excess weight is for our health. What are the possible health issues facing overweight children? What can we do to prevent the problem from occurring and to deal with it once it arises? Family First speaks to a plethora of professional about this critical topic.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sarah* is 100 pounds overweight, and her husband tips the scales at 200 pounds overweight. Not surprisingly, both of her teenaged children are also obese.

Both Sarah and her husband are considering gastric bypass surgery, as all efforts to lose weight have failed. Sarah hones in on the challenge of all overweight parents of heavy kids: “It’s hard to lead overweight children in a healthier direction when you’re suffering yourself. What I really wish for is a magic genie to wave a wand over all of us so we could lose weight. I wish we could summon the appropriate willpower and remain focused on the goal. It’s frustrating to know how long the journey we have is.”

Sarah does not shirk responsibility for her family’s discouraging situation. “Certainly there is a genetic component to all of us being heavy, but ultimately, if you don’t put the food in your mouth, you aren’t going to be fat,” she says. “My son has a friend who is one of four. What his mom makes for the six of them is a lot less than what we prepare for the four of us. We are always hungry. I spent ten years of my adult life close to a healthy size. To balloon to this weight, I made choices that got me here. My husband and I are hesitant to do gastric bypass, (although our doctors are strongly advising it because of our health issues), because we don’t want our children to presume that surgery is the only answer.”

Unfortunately, Sarah is in good company. Millions of Americans seem destined for a lifetime of obesity unless they make major lifestyle changes. Obesity has risen to be the number one health concern in America and the world, even topping smoking. The number of obese children and adults has almost doubled in the last three decades. What must we do to avoid obesity? How can we maintain healthy eating habits and pass them on to the next generation? 


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