Childhood health is a very important topic these days and justifiably so. The total health of a child is of utmost importance to our society. Unfortunately, our society has dramatically changed even since I was a child growing up and not all of these changes have translated into positive opportunities for our children’s health.
In fact, children are facing some very serious health concerns which were never the case three or four decades ago. Today, children face some very real challenges which can greatly and deeply impact their current state of health. Unfortunately, the current state of a child’s health often reflects their future health status as they grow older and become adults. There is no doubt that the current health status of any child is directly determined, much like any adult, by their lifestyle.
The sad fact remains that our children will not be as healthy as we were by the time they reach adulthood! We will be handing over our society to a new generation who will be sicker and have greater health challenges than we ever faced.
How can I make this statement?
Consider that the rates of childhood obesity and being overweight have skyrocketed not just in North America, but globally over the last 20 years. What is causing this rather problematic trend? The answer is not simple because it is reflective of the actual lifestyle of the child, the determinants of which involve industry, technological advancement, institutional budgets, health care providers, changes in family dynamics, and a general lack of oversight.
In my opinion, there is lots of blame here to spread around but it doesn’t solve the problem at this point.
This is the issue: our children are getting far too heavy and their collective risk profile for the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and increased morbidity is rapidly increasing before they reach the age of majority!
Recent research has repeatedly indicated that children are developing diseases that previously would be ascribed to a much older adult population. These include hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high levels of abdominal body fat. In other words, our children are developing the pre-diabetic state of metabolic syndrome in alarming numbers!
The same poor lifestyle dynamics that led to this problem in adults is the same in children and the adults who struggle with these health issues often have done so since their youth. What does this tell us?
It speaks the idea that the lifestyle any child has can really determine their long term health outcomes. Simply stated, children eat far too much calorie-dense, nutrient-poor food and they do not get enough exercise at home or in their schools. There is not enough correct oversight and attention paid to this rather obvious fact.
I think the point is that these are children we are talking about here, not adults. However, it’s the adults that make the decisions regarding the health and well-being of children—at least it should be, in my view. Adults need to understand and become much more aware of the importance of childhood health and how it’s impacted by lifestyle issues.
Schools need to have mandatory physical education classes, and they need to teach health, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle dynamic skills. Children need oversight, guidance, and opportunities to participate and learn.
Let’s all do a better job!
“Childhood obesity and cardiovascular dysfunction,” Medscape web site; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/813576, last accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
“Extreme obesity is prevalent in children and adolescents,” Medscape web site; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/718812, last accessed Jan. 20, 2014.