Other Factors Causing Child Obesity

Another major factor in the increase of obese children is the sudden lack of physical activity.  Children watch an average of four hours of TV a day. From toddlers to teens American youth are spending a substantial part of the day of their lives using media.  Even the very youngest children, preschoolers ages six and under, spend as much time with screen media as they do playing out side.  Much of the media targeted to children is laden with elaborate advertising campaigns, many which promote foods such as candy, soda, and snacks. This may include watching television programs and playing video games.  The increase of more shows and the sophistication of today’s gaming systems are luring children into staying home and avoiding activities that were one a favorite past time.  The video game industry is luring children as small 3-4 years old with “learning games” such as V-tech and educational video games.  Also the television has also become the baby sitter for busy parents with the increase of children’s shows and channels specifically for children.  This can also be said for children ranging from toddlers to teens.

Teens especially are also spending much more time playing video games, watching TV or on the computer.  They are being bombarded with constant advertising and marketing.  The more obvious of these culprits is the television but the computer is a Mecca for advertising and now video games are being sponsored by fast food and soft drink companies.  Burger King at one point was selling video games for the launch of the Xbox 360.  Coca Cola can be seen in some video games actually advertising their brand.  It is this sabotage that is not teaching children the dangers of obesity and the complications that come with it.

With such movies and books like Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation we have seen an increase of fast food reform and this started with the kids’ meals.  Fast food companies such McDonald’s and Wendy’s started this marketing campaign to reform the way children and adults were consuming fast food.  These new kids’ meals now offer choices for both the parent and the child. At McDonald’s, a child now has a choice between an order fries or an order of apple slices or instead of the soda they can have apple juice or milk.   These small steps have actually created a domino affect with other fast food companies, one of the latest ones being Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Some states have even come as far as making laws that prohibit the use of saturated fats to prepare food in restaurants.  We are now seeing that although the media is partly responsible for the obesity trend in the United States they are now starting to make slow but necessary changes in the way people especially children are viewing food.  There a lot more advertisements out there now promoting physical activity and healthy living practices for children.

Obesity within the last five years has not just become a phenomenon in the United States but even in Europe is starting to see the increase in obese people.  As cultures are becoming more “Americanized” they are also seeing the growing trend of obesity within their society especially in children.  At the of the day, however, it isn’t up to the media to dictate what a child should or shouldn’t eat.  It is up to the parents to set an example to their children to promote healthy eating practices and active lifestyles.   It also the parents’ job to choose what the child should eat no matter how inconvenient it is to the parent.  In the end is all about teaching children moderation and setting a lifestyle that they can adhere for the rest of their lives.


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