It is known to many that the percentage of obese Americans has risen of the past few decades. It is also widely known that children are especially impacted by this because the childhood obesity rate is also rapidly increasing. There is no one reason why childhood obesity is on the rise; however, a lot of it has to do with the way our standard American diet has changed over the years.
One major problem with the standard American diet is that it is filled with processed foods and sugars. Experts state that over 80% of households in America have sugary cereals and most breads in stores are refined, meaning they are stripped of their natural nutrients. Many foods now contain corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup which is used as a sweetener. Though these processes and additives are used to make foods last longer and taste better, they can greatly increase the risk of obesity.
Food companies often state that the processing techniques they use do not make the foods themselves unhealthy, and they are correct. However, because there is such a high abundance of these particular types of sweetened foods, they have dominated the common American diet. In order to eat a balanced meal, a wide array of nutrients are necessary, but Americans tend to get a select few. This lifestyle over time is what causes people to gain weight.
Additionally, the processed foods are the ones that are marked down in stores. If people want to eat foods that are more nutritious, they must pay more. This is also a deterrent for many families, especially those who have a lower socioeconomic status. And because our American lifestyle is often fast-paced, there is not much time to cook foods and eat meals together. As a result, people grab the ready-made meals that can be prepared instantly and eaten on the go. Once again, eating too much of these types of foods is what creates unhealthy eating patterns.
The reason childhood obesity is so prominent now is because kids are adopting these eating practices from their parents. They also have increased access to things like television, the internet, and video games. And though a little bit of each is fine for a child, too much can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. People, especially children, need to be physically active in order to burn the calories they consume on a regular basis. Unfortunately, physical activity is becoming less and less a part of the American diet.
In order to prevent the rate of childhood obesity from continuing to grow, it is important to educate children on proper nutrition practices. Kids need to learn how to eat right and exercise and why it is important to do so. Children should know about the many types of vitamins and minerals as well as in what foods they can be found. In this way, kids will be more empowered to make their own choices about what is healthy to eat and what is not.