The other night my friend and I were discussing the abundance of chubby children in America.  According to the American Heart Association, one in three children are obese.  Childhood obesity is now the number one parental health concern next to drugs and smoking. This summer, my sons took swimming lessons at a nearby, outdoor pool. I couldn’t help but notice the high number of chubby kids I saw each day.  There are always chubby children, but there seemed to be an awful lot at the pool this summer.

It isn’t hard to figure out why we have an abundance of chubby children in American. Today you can get a 64 ounce soda, eat a 1200 calorie hamburger and a 700 calorie filled Frappuccio. Many Americans are eating more calories than they need each day. Fast food, convenience microwavable foods, and soda pop are too easy to get and many are much cheaper than the healthier options. Most children I meet are on the French fries, chicken nugget, and hot dog diet. My own daughter would live on those three items if I let her. I am happy she loves fruits and grains to counteract her junk food obsession.  It is easy to fall into fatty convenience options instead of healthier options.

Another well-known cause for childhood obesity is the high-definition, web-enabled, Wii, Xbox, DSi and numerous video games at our children’s finger tips. They spend the day at their school desks then come home to their computers and video games. I fight this battle daily. My oldest son would rather play Wii games instead of taking a bike ride and enjoy the beautiful weather outside. I had to resort to bribery to get him to play outside this summer. I spent my childhood outside. As an adult, I always have an itching to go outside on beautiful days . One of the perks of having a home daycare is the fact that I get to spend time outside every day. There are some days I am at the park with the kids and think, “wow, I am so lucky to be at this park instead of some boring meeting indoors”.

Another reason children in America are chubby is because parents allow it. The parents feed them junk food and let them lead sedentary lives.  I love Michelle Obama’s quote when describing her Let’s Move campaign:

… let’s be honest with ourselves: our kids didn’t do this to themselves. Our kids don’t decide what’s served in the school cafeteria or whether there’s time for gym class or recess. Our kids don’t choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in supersize portions, and then have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn. And no matter how much they beg for fast food and candy, our kids shouldn’t be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime. We’re in charge. We make these decisions.”

I need to remember this when my children beg for McDonalds or opt to play Wii instead of riding bikes and getting exercise. Let’s make it a goal to keep our children healthy and fit. The future of American children depend on it.

For healthy parenting tips, check out 5 Steps to Mainstreaming Your Child’s Health.