As recently as forty years ago, obesity in children was nearly unheard of, as the wheels of society turned at a much different beat than today. Back then, there were no video games, no cable television, and the average child had considerably less toys and gadgets than children do today. Children were much more physically active in the past because there was simply not that much to keep a child occupied or entertained indoors. The world of yesteryear put more stock in physical ability, general agility, and participation in sports as an avenue to obtaining physical fitness. As a child grew closer to working age, a heavy emphasis and respect was placed upon the value of physical labor that is missing from the society of today.
Children of today are definitely not getting nearly enough exercise, and we collectively as adults are to blame. Based solely upon the diet of today’s children, if anything they require more exercise than in past years to slow the effects of high calorie foods that are processed heavily with little nutritional value. Snacks such as soda, candies and potato chips that used to be designated as snacks have become a staple food in the lives of our children. The poor eating habits that go uncorrected in children result in obesity at an early age, and in a lifetime of poor health as the obese battle diseases and conditions associated with weight gain and poor nutrition.
Less emphasis is placed upon physical fitness in schools, as resources are being diverted with greater frequency to other programs based on more conventional aspects of education. Extracurricular sports programs are either withering or have become an added expense for parents of children that participate, as they must now pay for uniforms and transportation costs. Even those children who do participate in sports are at a disadvantage, as the competition level has declined because of an overall acceptance of a mediocre commitment on the part of those involved. Anyone can engage in any activity without the drive to excel, or to even put forth a serious effort.
If there is blame to be placed for the current plague of childhood obesity and lack of fitness, it rests squarely upon the shoulders of parents and educators. A child can only do what a supervising adult allows or deems as acceptable in a given circumstance. Perhaps what is the root of the problem is that we are a society of overweight adults, should we expect more from our children?