Skip to content

CHILDHOOD OBESITY PART II: Staying Active

2010 March 16

Every morning I walk through the lobby of my apartment building, passing a group of kids who are waiting for the school bus. What are they doing as they wait? They aren’t talking to or playing with one another. They’re “playing” on their BlackBerrys. The BlackBerry: a gadget made for business people, not for seven-year-olds as a substitute for tag or basketball.

Not only cell phones, but other technological advances have made children more sedentary. Videogames, computers, and iPods have given children a way to stay “active” without actually being active. These activities do not involve much movement beyond the comfort of their own home or couch. It seems that children are having more fun interacting with technology rather than with one another. They are choosing inactive doings rather than active, such as, participating in sports teams or playing outside.

Physical activity seems to be diminishing more and more everyday. No longer do we see kids playing outside until dark. We don’t even see kids out on the playground at recess much anymore. In some of the schools that I have volunteered, the children are even given a choice as to whether they want to go outside or play inside on the computers or in the library. Only for asthmatic children who can’t play outside with poor air quality is this a choice worth having. Physical education is seen less in school systems as well. Although it still may be present, the time spent in P.E. is much shorter and it can be said that the activities are less strenuous than in the past.

The purpose of this two-part blog is to show the two main causes of childhood obesity. It is not enough to just eat right or to just exercise appropriately. The two must be done together. Obesity is a two-part fiend that can be solved with the right diet and exercise. We must ensure that our kids are healthy now such that they can be healthy in the future and for the rest of their lives.

About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

44 Responses leave one →
  1. Joan permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Nicole,
    Remember that age-old phrase repeated by harried mothers everywhere: “Go outside and play!” Playing outside exercised imaginations as well as bodies. Maybe that’s why kids are reluctant to give up their technology; they don’t know what to do without it.

  2. Jackenson Durand permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Recreational areas contribute in most positive childhood brain integrity.
    Playing sport would open children imagination to creativity.
    That means, we must search the best way to solve this childhood obesity problematic.

  3. Linda permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Part of the problem is that so many of our neighborhoods are no longer safe; when drive-by shootings and drug dealers are part of the landscape, parents don’t dare let their children play outside unsupervised, much less let them walk to school … even in areas where that might otherwise be possible. I’ve also seen a lot of kids who are so over-scheduled with pre-programed activities (pee-wee football, dance, music lessons, etc.) I wonder if they EVER have time to just go outside and plsay, making up games for themselves, the way we did when we were kids.

  4. Al Bannet permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Cell phones, TV and all the hi-tech stuff on the Market today offers a virtual World to escape the grim realities of everyday existence, which makes it easier to exploit and mislead the people for fun and profit. Thus, impulse buying is encouraged to pump up the Market and expand the economy — but it only booms to bust, as it has throughout history, as the recent recession proves again.

  5. Bill Garvine permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Thank you Nicole for your perceptive observation. As a 35-year veteran baseball coach, and a former school board member, I am appalled at the de-emphasis on physical education and pure play. The motor skills development and the fitness aspects are so important for youngsters to acquire, but I am also saddened by the missed opportunity to develop socially within interactive play sessions. As an urban dweller, I appreciate the earlier comments on the obligation we have to provide safe settings for play to occur, but sometimes we just have to get creative about settings and supervision. Play On!!!! (Oh, and I love my MacBook and my Smart phone, but I’d rather be at baseball practice).

  6. Tai Chan permalink
    March 17, 2010

    If we scream Type II diabetic to those kids, they probably will ignore us and keep pushing those Blackberry or itouch keys. Our young children are simply spending excessive amount of time with these devices. The parents gave it to them so they don’t have to spend time with them !!

    The kids are good in passing trivial information instantaneously and have not learned how to process information. The sad thing is that they can’t write or spell either. All these acrynoms we all use in our ICT (Information Communication Technology) devices have taken us to a lower form of communication … OMG. The headset generation is already suffering from early hearing loss soon, and the younger PDA addicts will have earlier vision impairment and other unintended social consequences. Perhaps every hour of intense texting or playing video games will be balanced by 20 minutes of exercise. Hey, stationary bikes, jogging, or pumping iron counts if we have to stay indoor for whatever reason. God help our obesity epidemic.

  7. Dr. Tai permalink
    March 18, 2010

    Too many gadgets these days ! Our fast pace society is dependent on fast food, touchscreens and texting, tethered to everything except genuine face to face conversations. Couch potatoes parents and physically inactive kids are in the same family. The new 3D-HDTV are sold out this year already and it comes with glasses that will not allow us to see each other.

  8. Kris permalink
    March 18, 2010

    Alright, I hate to see kids, parents, & technology being ganged up on, so I need to speak up. A lot of parents are intelligent about getting their kids outside, limiting screen time (whichever screen that is), limiting the number of activities, and most important, increasing time spent with family. I want to put in a plug for playing safely in the sun — for being a good example and for teaching your kids good habits from the time they’re young. Skin cancer is the most common cancer is this country, surpassing breast, prostate, lung & colon COMBINED. Yet, it seems incredibly ignored as an issue. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is now the most common cancer for 25-29 year-olds. The good news is: it’s easy to protect your skin. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, wrap on sunglasses, and check the UV Index to plan your outdoor activities. Check EPA’s SunWise site to learn more: http://www.epa.gov/sunwise.

  9. wade harter permalink
    March 19, 2010

    We have become a society that downgrades physical activity. One might actually sweat. (by the way the 2 most healthly things that a person can do is sweat and give blood. Both release toxins from the body). This is most noticeable in the elimination of manufacturing in the US. It is uncultural to work anymore, but manufacturing provides jobs, jobs create spending and taxes. Manufacturing creates wealth and advances technology. Technology is a product of education. Since almost everything we purchase has to be manufactured, then the jobs are going to be somewhere. Why not maintain our standard of living and keep the jobs here? Why does China now own almost all of our debt? They started manufacturing.

  10. CTS Wholesale Sunglasses permalink
    April 23, 2010

    There are plenty of statistics available that prove child obesity is at epidemic levels. In the last 30 years the number of children who are overweight has tripled to 15%. When you add the overweight and obese statistics together, the problem becomes crystal clear. One-third of the children are carrying too much weight. It can be prevent by taking a good diet and exercise.

    Jeni

  11. health problem permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Children health includes physical and mental are very important to make sure they grow up healthily. Parents should let their kids participate in sports and activities that fit their personality, ability and interest instead of playing video games.

  12. Obesity in children permalink
    June 23, 2010

    Hi this is Lisa. I read the post and found really good. I completely agree with Jeni , the percentage of overweight kids have now increased to 19%. This is mainly due to wrong diet by the kids as actually this is not there issue as the parent should look after them for proper diet. This diet should consist of both mental and physical activities which will make the child more healthy.
    Check this link http://www.fightobesity.net/obesity-in-children.html
    this might give me more information about the obesity in children and how would you get rid of it.

  13. Wade permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I think its important that certain steps be taken for kids with weight problems to avoid problems later in life. Even just to educate the parents on proper diet and activity and help them to understand letting their child get overweight, they are severely disadvantaging them later in life. No one wants to hit 20, and think “I wish I was brought up to eat healthier, so I didnt have such a hard time trying to lose weight” anything is possbile, but prevention ins better than a cure.

  14. bssor permalink
    August 3, 2010

    if you need information on losing weight, just search on different search engines, for sure you will find something there.

    http://www.google.com
    http://www.yahoo.com

  15. Stan Jones permalink
    September 1, 2010

    In my opinion the massive amount of money being spent on the health care overhaul by the government would be MUCH better spent teaching all Americans, and particularly the youth, about healthy life practices. As a former personal trainer, and now a current nutritionist, I have found that a major problem is the lack of knowledge that everyday people have about health. Very few people know exactly what to do. Even fewer are aware of all the dangerous chemicals found in a lot of our food. I believe that if efforts were spent on providing results, then the money spent on health care would go waaaay down.
    -Stan The Hearing Man

  16. David Walsh permalink
    September 14, 2010

    I totally agree that kids need to stay active throughout their whole lives. Being active then becomes a way of life and they will then carry that through into adulthood.

    So many Taekwondo schools across the country, and around the world, work with obese and over weight kids and give them discipline and purpose in their lives. They turn their lives around and their lives get so much better, as they’re physically fit and also mentally stronger too. They take things in their stride and have more confidence in themselves than they did before.

    But it doesn’t matter what the activity is, it doesn’t have to be Martial Arts or Taekwondo. Even running around is suffice to have the burn up calories and have a better quality of life.

    David

  17. rehnquist permalink
    September 16, 2010

    Only want to say your site is as Great. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can see the love in this field. Well with your permission allow me to keep up to date with succeeding post. Thanks a million and please keep up the accomplished work.

  18. Paul S. permalink
    September 19, 2010

    I agree that times have changed, new and more gadgets to play with and such. But it still come down to us as parents to tell our kids…”put down the phone, game boy, play station, or what ever and go play!
    enroll them in sports, plays, band ,or what ever. Load them up in the car and drive somewhere and go for a walk. Same thing when it come the food they eat. Yes..we can’t stand over them every minute, but we can control what is in our own homes for them to eat. Remember we are still the parents.

  19. dietplan permalink
    September 21, 2010

    It is really true that there are a lot of children nowadays that are suffering obesity. If you want answer to this obesity problems, it is best to find the best diet plans for your children or encouraging them more to stay active by enrolling them to summer camps or other fun filled activities that they can enjoy.

  20. alexssupercenter.com permalink
    September 25, 2010

    Great site. Alot of good points were brought up and I just wanted to put in my 2 cents. Something that helps keep me active and motivated to go for a walk or a bikeride is listening to some good music while I do. Music with a good beat can make for a much better bike ride then just listening to the wind go by.

  21. How many calories to lose weight? permalink
    September 28, 2010

    Great article, thanks for sharing.

    It seems that obesity is a growing problem, that isn’t going away anytime soon. The thing I’ve found is that many people who want to lose weight have no idea how many calories it takes to lose weight!

    Thanks

  22. alexis diaz permalink
    September 29, 2010

    I definitely agree with your statement saying “It is not enough to just eat right or to just exercise appropriately.The two must be done together.” Yes, these 2 factors must jointly done in order to fight against the so called obesity, especially nowadays, technology is paving the way which can make each of us lazy in doing other things.

  23. rehnquist permalink
    October 2, 2010

    Eating right and exercising are so important for children. Now adays they just want the internet or ipod. Keeping them active and eating right is a must. With so much fast food available it is up to the parents to take control.

  24. Kim - The Every Other Day Diet permalink
    October 6, 2010

    “The BlackBerry: a gadget made for business people, not for seven-year-olds as a substitute for tag or basketball.”

    I sooo loved that line. Ang I completely agree with the writer. Kids, nowadays have gotten less and less exposure to physical activities. I guess parents should start taking the initiative of engaging their children in sports. Maybe they should look at their own lifestyle, too, and see how they could inspire their kids to be physically fit, too.

  25. Kim - The Every Other Day Diet permalink
    October 6, 2010

    “The BlackBerry: a gadget made for business people, not for seven-year-olds as a substitute for tag or basketball.”

    I sooo loved that line. And I completely agree with the writer. Kids, nowadays have gotten less and less exposure to physical activities. I guess parents should start taking the initiative of engaging their children in sports. Maybe they should look at their own lifestyle, too, and see how they could inspire their kids to be physically fit, too.

  26. Jerome permalink
    October 20, 2010

    technological advances have given us great comfort but there are also disadvantages regarding this. for example an iPhone would be a great tool for communicating with others and keeping people you love in touch, but in the hands of grade school kids? not really a good idea. kids need to stay active for a healthier body by playing outside. they can easily get sick even just by doing nothing.

  27. Einstein permalink
    October 22, 2010

    If the government were to impose Physical activities it should be done indoors or outside early morning or very late in the afternoon where the sun is not at it’s peak or times from 10am-3pm.

    Even as early as 9am or late as 4pm, the UV will still affect our skin, although it’s reasonable to play wearing hat and long sleeved shirt, what about sunglasses to protect the eyes? that would be ridiculous.

    We still need to check if the environment surrounding the school is not polluted or else kids might contract diseases.

  28. Rodger M. permalink
    November 10, 2010

    Completely agree with you. TV, computers, texting, and video games lead to kids gaining more fat as they sit for hours and hours without doing any activity. Parents need to get their kids up and movin.In my mind if you don’t enforce some sort of an activity program for your kids you are not practicing good parenting. A good ideas is to do things together as a family – things like hiking, biking, swimming, frisbee, walking, etc.

  29. Marius permalink
    November 24, 2010

    As today there are many child are obesity at there younger age and then after they are goes up on there age they have died due to heart attack or high blood pressure. I think it is advisable to have a good personal trainer who can teach you on how to stay fit. you can check

  30. Nishit permalink
    December 3, 2010

    This post is great – but the reader feedback is even more interesting.

    I have a 7 year old son, who’s been taking natural food supplements since he was 2. Let’s face the facts – there is no way he eats anywhere near what is the reommended amount of stuff in the diet and the quality of fresh fruits and veg. has also deteriorated. Many of my friends used to question me when I was giving him supplements from such a young age (mixture of High quality protein, fish oil, multi vitamin and immune booster). They can now see the results as my son is a strong, healthy boy who is intelligent, confident and is doing great in all aspects of life. I strongly believe that the supplements have played a big role is his development and he rarely falls ill.

    Coming to the subject matter of obesity and kids – I came across a blog post you may find interesting which explains that weight is put on due to the body’s response to the blood glucose. In other words – Glycemic Response. If you look at a typical kids diet, you will find all the things that are likely to provoke a high Glycemic Response, which is why they put on weight. For example – did you know that french fries have a higher GI (the rate at which a substance is broken down to glucose) than sugar itself?

  31. Martin permalink
    December 11, 2010

    The problem of childhood obesity is very frequent in sight when we crossed the street children with this problem.

    I think q sport as a useful complement to a healthy diet.
    Especially basketball hoops for internal doors are great for us to forget the child some video games
    models of indoor basketball hoop can be varied., see here:
    Indoor Basketball Hoop

  32. Fadi permalink
    December 22, 2010

    I absolutely agree with you Joan. These days children would rather opt to play with their technologies rather than interact with their fellow children. They should go out more and mingle with other kids to develop their social skills.

  33. Bryan permalink
    February 23, 2011

    I read something interesting that I didn’t know about. According to scientific american fat cells during adolescence grow in both number and size. However, their growth is double in females when compared with boys of the same age group.
    Girls, naturally gain fat in the hips and pelvic region. However, boys tend to accumulate it in the abdomen. This can cause an increase in the visceral fat around the vital organs in the abdomen and the stomach weight that’s so hard to get rid of.
    I didn’t know about this but addressing this while someone is young has to go a long way in preventing obesity or at least controlling it.

  34. weight loss permalink
    August 1, 2011

    People don’t truly understand the risks of being overweight. Why do most want to lose weight? Most would say to look better. Looking better certainly is a benefit of losing weight, but this shouldn’t be the sole reason to lose weight. There is a 1000 pound gorilla in the room and it’s often ignored. Being overweight for a long period of time kills thousands of people each year.

  35. Add A Website permalink
    August 20, 2011

    This Is A Great Blog With Great Info Thanks Alot And Keep Up The Great Work

  36. Brenda Wilkinson permalink
    October 25, 2011

    Gadgets and modern technologies are not bad at all if it is use in proper ways. Parents had a great responsibilities for this matter they must guide their children for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Obesity is rampant due to not giving attention of proper exercise and proper diet.

  37. Margie Jimenez permalink
    October 25, 2011

    Often times some people ignore there weight like me I ignore my weight and it comes to the point that I really hate my body. I am not a kind of people that have mind a body conscious. Overweight is very disgusting. Being overweight optimally healthy. But i do Physical Activity. Thanks to this blog.

  38. Jackie Mayer permalink
    November 12, 2011

    I think for kids the best diet plans are the most simple and the key is exercise. It’s great having an amazing diet plan, but at the same time without teaching them to exercise early, they will fall into obesity later in life.

    Jackie Mayer

  39. H J Williams permalink
    December 28, 2011

    I think this is a particularly useful article, especially for those who need to educate themselves in the broad strokes of staying healthy and active. It is important to get information such as this to as many people as possible, the wider impact can only be positive on society. For instance, we can reduce medical costs, improve our farming methods, and support local businesses such as gyms, sports clubs, health foods, and green grocers. The more we encourage young people to participate in sports the better. We just need to emphasize the fun aspects rather than the competition in my opinion. I have covered several aspects of topics such as this at http://www.food4abs.com/

  40. alexmick323 permalink
    April 10, 2012

    Fantastic post. I am hoping for the best work of the same from you in future. Thankyou.

  41. June 12, 2012

    It is really true and I agree that there are a lot of children nowadays that are suffering obesity. If you want answer to this obesity problems, it is best to find the best diet plans for your children or encouraging them more to stay active by enrolling them to summer camps or other fun filled activities that they can enjoy.

  42. Jacob John permalink
    January 12, 2013

    I totally agree with you Nicole. We can find so many children now a day’s becoming an addict to the latest gadgets coming in the market which makes them more and more inactive. As a result they lack the physical strength which one get through outdoor activities like sports.

    Children who are of the age group of 7- 15 years if participated in some outdoor games itself is more than enough than going to gym or doing some exercises.

    Moreover, the food that these children eat is one of the major causes of obesity. Eating foods that are rich in fats (bad fats) without proper physical activity will make them obese.

    So, the parents should encourage their children to participate in sports or play with their friends.

  43. Ronin Athletics permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Martial arts training is a great way to stay active and avoid or corret obesity.

  44. Ronin Athletics permalink
    March 16, 2013

    The best way to control obesity is keeping the body in movement. Do sport, run, walk, is the best thing

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS