Don’t let food and media consumption be the downfall for obese children

May 9, 2016

Characters in programming for children often exhibit unhealthy habits.

Parents play a major role in the development of their child. Sometimes it may be a good idea to think twice about what they are allowed to watch and how it can affect their thought processes. Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill found that in movies like Kung Fu Panda, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel and Shrek the Third, the main characters are insulted for being overweight, and even worse, throughout the films these fictional beings partake in several unhealthy practices.

With childhood obesity is a huge problem in today’s society, it’s important that parents are ensuring that the things their kids are watching on TV, computer and video game consoles sends them the right message.

“These children’s movies offer a discordant presentation about food, exercise and weight status, glamorizing unhealthy eating and sedentary behavior yet condemning obesity itself,” said Dr. Eliana Perrin, associate professor of pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine.

Obesity has many negative affects
While it is widely known that obese children are less active and physically fit, a new study has found that their weight may be a reason for increased levels of stress. Erica van den Akker of Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, one of the author’s of the study, said recent research showed obese kids produce more of the hormone cortisol, when compared to normal weight peers.

“We were surprised to find obese children, as young as age 8, already had elevated cortisol levels,” van den Akke. “By analyzing children’s scalp hair, we were able to confirm high cortisol levels persisted over time.”

While studying 20 obese children and 20 normal weight children over the course of one month, the findings showed obese kids had an average cortisol concentration of 25 pg/mg in their scalp hair, 8 pg/mg higher than those in the normal weight group. Researchers weren’t able to find that obesity leads to higher levels of stress, but that idea wasn’t ruled out either.

Parents can help kids fight obesity with exercise
While obesity can drag some kids down, others want to get back into good shape and make physical fitness an aspect of their daily life. Combining martial arts training with a healthy diet and dedication to exercising, kids can get rid of obesity label in no time, and find that they have higher levels of self-esteem, improved confidence and a greater willingness to go out and make friends. Here are some tips from Breaking Muscle on how to make that happen:

  • Get kids doing some strength and cardiovascular training: The best way to get kids running around is to get them involved in an activity they like. This is why martial arts like Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have been the answer for so many obese children. In these classes, they can get the appropriate amount of exercise, while also learning self-defense skills.
  • Stress the importance of proper nutrition: Obese kids can exercise all they want, but if they fail to be healthy eaters, it can be a long road to a fit body. Parents must drill their kids on why they need to eat healthy and inform them on what types of foods are acceptable. Many children understand that their parents know what is best for them.
  • Less couch, more playing: Children have smartphones, gaming systems and endless TV programming that can lead to them parking themselves on the couch and relaxing for hours. While it’s OK to do this occasionally, parents need to get their kids out of the house and running around in the yard or with friends.