Moving the future: Bad nutritional habits, lack of activity weigh on children

By: Milo F. Bryant Special to The Gazette
July 18, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm
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photo - Fairmeadow Elementary School fourth grade student Juliet Lee, left, orders pepperoni pizza during a school lunch program in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Palo Alto, Calif. More children would eat lunches and dinners at school under legislation passed Thursday by the House and sent to the president, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to end childhood hunger and fight childhood obesity. The $4.5 billion bill approved by the House 264-157 would expand a program that provides full meals after school to all 50 states. It would also try to cut down on greasy foods and extra calories by giving the government power to decide what kinds of foods may be sold in vending machines and lunch lines. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Fairmeadow Elementary School fourth grade student Juliet Lee, left, orders pepperoni pizza during a school lunch program in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Palo Alto, Calif. More children would eat lunches and dinners at school under legislation passed Thursday by the House and sent to the president, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to end childhood hunger and fight childhood obesity. The $4.5 billion bill approved by the House 264-157 would expand a program that provides full meals after school to all 50 states. It would also try to cut down on greasy foods and extra calories by giving the government power to decide what kinds of foods may be sold in vending machines and lunch lines. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) 

Parents and guardians, it's time we chatted about our children.

This is my passion. This is why I left sports journalism.

Our children are suffering from the effects of horrible nutritional habits and a paucity in movement. And I want to do something about it.

So, for several weeks, we'll be chatting about our children.

First, a quick story, and then an overview of the problem we're facing.

I was volunteering in a third-grade class when I asked the children, "How many of you climb trees now or have ever climbed a tree?"

Three of the 27 children raised their hands. Three. That's about 11 percent. The rest looked at each other as if climbing a tree was an alien concept.

"You all don't climb trees?" I asked.

"Why would you climb a tree?" one child replied.

Wow, why would you climb a tree? Seriously?

That's not the childhood many of us lived. But that's how we're raising our children. Parents are not being active with their infants and toddlers. They are fearful of allowing children the freedom of playing outside. Those issues, along with an overly litigious society and amazing video games and TV shows, mean we're losing the movement battle before kids ever reach organized athletics.

Folks, we're talking about fighting a losing battle. And that battle is lost before our kids become toddlers!

In a long-term study of more than 7,500 infants nationwide, researchers from Detroit's Wayne State University found that nearly 32 percent of the babies were overweight or obese by 9 months. By the time the children were 2 years old, that number increased to more than 34 percent. The researchers considered infants who were in the 85th percentile of growth charts to be overweight. Those in the 95th percentile were considered obese.

There are two big problems that we will address in-depth in the coming weeks: 1. Parents/guardians are screwing up children's nutritional habits, even before the child is born. 2. Parents/guardians are not allowing children the freedom to move and be active early in life.

The resulting issues from that inactivity and poor nutrition are exacerbated unintentionally once the children are old enough for organized movement and athletic programs.

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Bryant holds several national training certifications, is an author, lectures internationally and is the founder of C.L.A.Y. - the Coalition for Launching Active Youth. His fitness tips appear biweekly in Health and Wellness.

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