Childhood Obesity Statistics: It’s the Diet, Stupid…

This is not the first time I’ve pointed out the problems in society when it comes to health.  Even First Lady Obama is promoting physical activity like it’s “the” answer to childhood obesity.

Well, guess what?  The problem isn’t the exercise.  I’m not saying it’s ok for your child to sit in front of an Xbox 360 for 4 hours a day.  They should, in general, be active.  When we were kids (maybe 10 years ago, if my math is correct…) we didn’t do “exercise.”  We rode our bikes everywhere, we ran around the neighborhood and we played sports.  But we didn’t exercise just to exercise.  It was just a part of what we did.

This should be the end discussion on the contribution of exercise to our rising childhood obesity statistics.  But it isn’t.  It becomes the pivotal discussion point on combatting childhood obesity.

Previous blog articles that have focused on how little exercise promotion changes behaviors in children can be read by clicking here.

This particular study looks at the effects of physical activity recommendations from a primary care provider in 182 overweight/obese 5- to 10-year-olds after a 3 year period.  They used accelerometry to study activity (think of a pedometer).  Here’s what they found:

  • Beginning and 3-year BMI scores did not change.
  • Beginning activity scores were 334 cpm (counts / minute) and 3-year were 284.
  • For those who had higher activity levels at 3 years, BMI scores dropped by a relatively small amount only.
  • Looking at the bright side, those with higher activity levels were more likely to not gain weight (versus moving to a higher BMI category).

Overall, the results were pretty disappointing.

Rather than being discouraged, however, this should wake us all up to the fact that diet is absolutely critical in making sure our children stay at his or her optimal weight.  No one gets hurt financially when we tell everyone to move more.  Actually, companies like Nike, Reebok and Spaulding probably come out way ahead.

But telling kids to avoid soda (diet and regular) and refined carbohydrates??  THAT is going to cost the majore confectionary companies like Nabisco and Kraft millions of dollars.

As the parent, it is up to you to set the stage for your child’s health.  No excuses like little Johnny is a poor eater.  If he is, it’s because you have let him become a poor eater.

You can view my general recommendations by clicking here.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.