Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Is Our Children’s Health At Risk?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 14, 2011

The following was received from one of our readers.

To Aurora Citizen re suggestions: I would like a dialogue on the health of our children related to the obesity epidemic and related medical conditions being found in children, e.g. type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Your suggestions for future topics are encouraged. We have received a number of suggestions and will publish them over the coming weeks.

You can either send your ideas as a comment (marked clearly that it is a proposed post) or via email to input@auroracitizen.ca.

AC

___________________________________________________________

In response to the above suggestion, we reference the following website www.childhoodobesityfoundation.ca

Currently, 59% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese.

There has also been a dramatic increase in unhealthy weights in children. Obesity rates in children have almost tripled in the last 25 years. Approximately 26% of Canadian children ages 2-17 years old are currently overweight or obese.

The latest Canadian Community Health Survey indicates that children who watch more than 2 hours of screen time (i.e. TV, computer, video games) per day have double the incidence of overweight and obesity when compared to children who have lass than 1 hour per day.Obesity rates continue to increase into adulthood.

If this trend continues, in 20 years we can expect 70% of the 35 -44 year olds in Canada to be overweight or obese vs. 57% who are currently overweight or obese.

As a result of obesity it is possible that for the first time in history our children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Obesity in childhood may result in serious medical problems in childhood such as:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome: a number of conditions that are all associated with high blood insulin levels including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
  • liver disease
  • bone and joint problems
  • respiratory problems such as asthma
  • sleep disorders such as difficulty breathing while asleep (sleep apnea)
  • earlier than normal puberty or menstruation
  • eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • skin infections due to moisture from sweat being trapped in skin folds
  • fatigue

Overweight or obesity in childhood can also result in serious psychological difficulties.

Overweight or obese children:

  • are more likely to be teased and bullied
  • are more likely to bully others
  • may have poor self-esteem and may feel socially isolated
  • may be at increased risk for depression
  • may have poorer social skills
  • may have high stress and anxiety
  • may have behaviour and/or learning problems as a result of psychological difficulties related to childhood obesity

Unfortunately most obese children and youth do not outgrow their weight problem. In fact, most people continue to gain weight as they age.

______________________________________

On the other hand, there has also been considerable coverage about the issue with body image — particularly among females — as a result of the unrealistic role models we see in the media. This has led to eating disorders. Because of the media coverage, some progress has been made in this area (i.e. Dove) — but is it enough?

So do you agree or disagree? Are the school systems doing enough to address these issues?

Is it too easy to opt-out of physical activities? Should pop and snack foods be banned from schools — at what level?

Can our government legislate good nutrition and exercise? Tax credits? Subsidized activities?

What role are parents playing to support healthy eating and levels of activity? Does the double income family — who often must drive long distances each day to/from work which leaves our kids to fend for themselves for longer periods — to blame?

How do we change our sedentary culture so our children — and ourselves — start to value a healthy body?

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5 Responses to “Is Our Children’s Health At Risk?”

  1. Anonymous said

    Everything begins at home, but in this day and age there is no one home. Kids are being raised by outside sources. They come home to WHAT for dinner. Snacks that we think are good for them are plentiful in the house for those who await someone to come home and make dinner. Wake up people, granola bars are not good for us. Where is the fruit, the fresh veggies, the made from scratch, know whats in it dinners. A thing of the past, how sad!How very very sad. We have big beautiful houses that ten families can live in, we have tv’s in every room, how many computers and gaming stations. And this is why we need two income families so our kids can over indulge in the babysitters of today (electronics) and get fat! We can even watch tv shows about fat families, Villages on a diet. They all educate about us the need for exercise, and know what you are eating. This is all very very simple and yet it is very very hard to find the time to go back to the simple life.

  2. sharon said

    Monkey see, monkey do.
    If the parents are not active, the kids usually aren’t.
    If there is pop and junk in the house, it will be consumed.
    If you smoke, so will they.
    If you don’t read, neither will they.
    If you don’t do chores (and pay a service), they won’t do chores.

    This all starts at home. Do your part.
    Take a good look in the mirror first before looking elswhere for answers.

    • JOHN H SARGENT said

      Sharon you are a wise woman..Their are so many pay for chores and house services and child raising social groups out there for what ever you fail at or not want or able to do that people do nothing for themselves whether they can afford or not.. Big money spent whether it paid by ones self or through tax payer Children end up the ones suffering in the end not having personal guidance — yet it keeps the service industry busy also more jobs etc. for the social network??

  3. Anonymous said

    The latest Health Canada guidelines state that children should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
    The simplest way to meet at least part of this requirement would be for children to actually walk to and from school each day. Every morning and afternoon I see a multitude of cars dropping off or picking up children. If they live more than 2 km from the school they attend, they are bussed. I would guess that in my neighbourhood, none of the elementary children live more than a 15 – 20 minute walk away from school and yet they are driven.
    In Milton, a “walking school bus” was created so that children could walk to school together with one or two adults in attendance. The “bus” stopped by houses and picked up children along the way. I thought this was an excellent idea and it would allay the argument by parents that the streets are not safe for the little darlings because there must be a pedophile waiting on every corner. In fact, a child is more likely to be killed in a car accident than to be abducted by a pedophile.
    I work in the school system and I am disconcerted by the level of inactivity. The increase in the incidence of diabetes necessitated a diabetes management protocol being established in our school board. Vending machines are still present in schools and stocked with chips, candies and pop etc.
    Gym time seems to be at an all time low for childrens with special needs because the focus is on the mainstream students and school teams. Children with physical disabilities should have equal access to physical activity. Reserach shows us that physical activity prior to seated work helps children to focus and pay attention. No wonder there has been a surge of ADHD and related issues.
    Parents are happy to enrol their children in sports programs but will not let them go out and play in the neighbourhood. Children’s lives are regimented and constantly overseen and supervised by adults. What happened to childhood adventures where a group went off and found their own activities and enjoyment?
    I could go on and on but will end now and suggest that we, parents and other adults, are responsible for the deteriorating health of our children. How sad to think that in the future more and more children may well be pre-deceasing their parents.

  4. Winter's comin' said

    … Obesity, is an issue that begins at home. While I won’t dispute the medical side of the condition, certainly the principle side effect is intraverted behaviour. I could focus on many reasons, but these two are pet peeves of mine: electronics (cell phones, blackberries, ipods etc) and a lack of external stimulus (aka a lack of constructive exercise). One source of the probloem begins with the parents. Who does the chores around the house? How much time do you spend on electronics per day, per week (stimulating our anti social behavour)? Do you consider kids doing outside chores as being child labour (eg. weekly washing the car, shovelling snow, digging in the garden, cutting the grass, raking grass/leaves). In the last decade, I have seen none of this in my neighbourhood. The young ones have always mimicked their elders and that remains the same. Well guess what, we must now live the consequence. Anti social behaviour (eg. bulling, harassing others) and obseity. If I can end with a positive note, Persons of all ages feel good about their accompishments/achievement, especially when personal energy and recognition is associated with them. IMO, we have work to do – think about the rewards. … my two “sents/sense” worth. … wc

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