The Parental Influence of Childhood Obesity

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The Parental Influence of Childhood Obesity

English 122

May 23, 2011

Research has shown there are many different causes for childhood obesity, however,

more research is needed to determine the exact causes, since some of the data cannot be

completed for many years of further study. Many of the causes of childhood obesity can be

prevented by parental influence. Providing the foundation for lifelong health for their children is

a major priority for parents. Little do most parents realize just how much the future health

of their children depends directly on the choices and lifestyle they choose. Some parents do not

realize the importance of teaching their children healthy eating habits such as, limiting their

child’s daily calorie intake, increasing the amount of physical activity their child gets on a daily

basis, and perhaps the most important of all, leading by example, or in other words, making sure

their child recognizes the parents eating habits. It has long been said that children live what they

learn. Children that live in households with parents who do not educate their children on the

danger of becoming obese will not learn to live a healthy lifestyle. “Parental influence cannot be

ignored, because children (7 to 12 years old) generally spend more time with their parents than

with anyone else” (Yu, H., 2011, para. 2). No parent ever expects their child to become obese.

In fact, many parents fail to recognize the fact that their child has become obese. “Childhood

obesity has become an epidemic, as data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination

Survey (NHANES) has shown that 16.9 percent of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 were

obese and 31.7 percent were obese or overweight in 2007-2008” (National Center for Health

Statistics, 1999-2002, p.1).

In order to prevent childhood obesity from becoming a problem in their family, parents

should limit the amount of calories their children are consuming on a daily basis. Keeping foods

on hand that are lower in sugar and contain less calories than those of processed foods is a great

way for parents to provide healthy alternatives for their children. While buying groceries,

parents should review food labels to ensure they are purchasing foods containing less sugar and

fat. Parents should offer a nutritious variety of foods from each of the four different food groups

to their children. This will give their children the freedom to make healthy food choices while

teaching them to develop healthy eating habits. Portion control is also an important factor for

controlling childhood obesity. It is important for parents to avoid encouraging their children to

completely consume all the food on their plate. Instead, parents should teach their children to eat

until they feel full. Parents can also model this approach at meal time with their children.

“Studies have determined that parents who control what and how much food their children eat

and encourage the consumption of food may inadvertently cause children to dislike the foods”

(Birch, L, Fisher, J. 1995), “whereas, parents that attempt to limit food(s) may actually promote

increased preference and consumption of the limited food(s) in their children” (Birch, L., Fisher,

J. 1995, p.759-764). As with everything, moderation is important. Parents who do not offer

sweet or salty foods to their children in moderation may actually cause their children to develop

a strong desire or craving for these foods, and given the chance, the child may become more

likely to consume excess amounts of these foods when their parents are not around or when

given the opportunity by other caregivers or friends.

Because of the weak economy and budget cuts in many of our Nations schools, many

schools are being forced to cut down on the amount of physical activity being made available to

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