The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


A weigh in on parents

Children in America have an obesity problem. It’s not their fault.

In every other circumstance concerning a minor, the parents are held responsible. A child must ask permission from a parent to do almost anything: play outside, access the Internet, watch TV or go to a friend’s house. The role of a parent is to protect and educate.

I know from personal experience the influence a parent can have. Against my best efforts I have acquired many of my mother’s traits and habits. I live on my own and still buy Tide, even though it is more expensive than other brands, because that’s what Mom used at home.

So why are we not holding parents responsible for the obesity epidemic in children? Many kids are at high risk for health concerns, and people are walking around blaming everything besides the culprits – the food industry is more interested in profits, the school shortened recess, healthy food is too expensive, etc.

It is ultimately up to the parents to instill good eating habits in their children and teach them how to get enough exercise. (No, “Wii Tennis” does not count.) If a school cuts back on recess or takes away P.E., then have your child take the dog for a walk when he or she gets home from school. Go to the park on Saturday instead of watching cartoons.

Pam Belluck, in an article for The New York Times, says that “for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents” due to obesity and the diseases that result from it. Type 2 diabetes, kidney failure and cancer are beginning to affect people at younger and younger ages because of the way we eat.

This should be enough to persuade parents to stop buying Cheetos at the grocery store and running through McDonald’s every morning before school, but it’s not. Even though study after study and article after article prove the severity of obesity, parents still do not recognize the problem.

There has been a positive moment to correct childhood obesity, much of it in schools. Preventing the selling of soda at lunch and offering fewer junk food options in the cafeteria are certainly actions to be praised, but I believe less would need to be done in school if parents stepped up to the plate at home.

Bridget Stevens, on a wall post from the Facebook group “Stop Child Obesity,” says, “Shouldn’t children have a choice? At a young age they can’t buy healthy food for themselves. They have no choice but to eat what is given to them.” Children are not only eating whatever their parents feed them, but they are also acquiring eating habits that can stay with them for a lifetime.

As a college student, it becomes much clearer how eating habits developed as a child can have long-term effects. To this day my favorite food is a green apple and I exercise every day. I have been living on my own for two years now and am perfectly capable of eating whatever I want. But I don’t; I eat exactly what I have my whole life, and thankfully, it is mostly healthy.

My earliest childhood memories consist of picnics at the park with my parents and rollerblading on the weekends with my dog. I began competitive ice skating at the age of four and have been a runner all my life. Besides that, my mom made sure my lunch was packed each day before school with at least one piece of fruit. I do not think my upbringing and my current weight are a coincidence.

Neither does Dr. Robert C. Whitaker of Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. He says the best way to predict whether a child will grow to be obese is to look at the parents. Many studies find the child to have almost double the chance of being obese if they have at least one obese parent. If an overweight parent notices a heavy youngster, ”It doesn’t mean putting the kid on a diet,” Dr. Whitaker said. ”They should just do their very best to model the kind of diet and activity habits they’d like their children to grow up with.”

Students agree that the eating habits acquired while living at home continue into their years in college. SMU sophomore Elisa Masso says she is especially conscious of her health.

“My health condition is better because my mom has a nutrition and weight loss company,” she said. “She has definitely influenced how I view eating and exercise.”

As a society we need to make parents more responsible for the weight of their children, not because they need anything else to be criticized for, but because it is the most effective way to treat childhood obesity. Let’s just all be aware that a parent’s decisions about health will weigh in on a child’s future. Make good choices.

Kelsey Howard is a sophomore CCPA major. She can be reached at [email protected].

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