Childhood Obesity and Getting Active: The answer is not in blaming pollution

Oh, Runner’s World you’ve done it again. I got a really good laugh when I read their online headline screaming, ‘Is Pollution Making Us Fat?’ Seriously, could it have nothing to do with inhaling mass quantities of McDonald’s and constituting raising the spork as your daily exertion? Just saying.

fat runner

At least he's moving!

Obesity is a glaring problem, the saddest part comes from childhood obesity in my humble opinion. Skinny Runner just did a great post highlighting some recent controversy regarding children and weight. Should parents be putting their overweight children on diets and making the child aware that they are, in fact obese?

I’d say that’s a much more practical approach than blaming pollution and not changing any of your lifestyle habits, I don’t care how old you are. If you want something to change you have to, well, change something.

* Input versus output. Yes metabolism and diet isn’t as black and white as plain math, there are admittedly some other things to take into consideration, but for the most part it is not rocket science. If you go out and run 20 miles you obviously need to refuel and ingest a heck of a lot more calories than a child who does nothing more than channel surf all day.

* Move it. Exercise is healthy and hardly for weight loss/maintenance purposes alone. (Yes, being entitled to scarf my weight in Pop-tarts is a perk, but hardly the only one!) Exercise releases endorphins, improves your mood and has been found to help people suffering from mild bouts of depression or ‘the blues.’ Further, taking part in sports is linked to higher self-esteem, instilling a harder work-ethic, teaching the value that comes from accomplishing goals, and a myriad of other pluses. Even for adults holed away in a cubicle, taking exercise breaks has been shown to increase productivity in the office; you come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that mountain of work.

eating cotton candy

Hey, she put in her sweat session and eared that cotton candy! 🙂

* Shut the trap. Being a long distance runner brings to mind willowy silhouettes and lean athletes…that comes from running lots of miles and burning tons of fuel in the process. Without getting into a totally different tangent regarding the weight/food issues; for the most part distance runners do eat much more than the average person. That said, there are plenty of instances and people who DO need to shed a few and should curb back their intake. I hate the word ‘diet’ though because that is synonymous with deprivation…just make a few modifications to your portion sizes and opt for healthier alternatives. You can still have treats but just with moderation…it’s insane how misguided the masses are when it comes to general nutrition and for the most part just wising up and learning how to avoid stepping into obvious food blunders would help. (the salad swimming with dressing, nuts, etc. could be loaded with more fat and calories than the small burger.) Here, information is key.

Rather than telling people that they shouldn’t blame themselves for putting on the pounds because of increased global carbon dioxide, Runner’s World, perhaps look to your name and remind them they could run a little more! For the children, I think helping them get back to a healthy weight is a necessity…not that parents should go all Toddlers and Tiaras on them, but just be smart.

* Small changes and substitutions. As with anything, start small and gradually build up. If you’re increasing your weekly mileage only go up 10% each week to avoid getting hurt. As for that sandwich, double up on the veggies and maybe opt out of the cheese for awhile; pick mustard instead of mayo…easy stuff.

* Take the focus of exercise off of burning calories. Working out, whatever form it comes in, should be fun and something you look forward to. If you are only running because you want to look like a skinny Ethiopian you’re probably not going to last very long. Find what you love to do that makes you move.

* Half and half. I also think the people who only look at losing weight from the diet perspective are stupid; you could lose weight by only cutting calories but you won’t be increasing your muscle tone and could still wind up jiggly and with a heart lacking the benefits of some cardio. Workout in addition to making dietary changes; and know that in doing so, more muscle mass may mean that the scale isn’t the most reliable gauge…look at how your clothes fit and how you actually look. Do you still jiggle? 😉


Tell the kids, "All the cool crocodiles eat tofu dogs!" 😉

* Parents and kids. I don’t think you always have to tell the kids WHY they aren’t eating as many french fries, if you’re afraid of damaging their self-esteem. You’re the parents, just make the changes in the household, you’ll all benefit. Take family runs or soccer games at the park…if they ask why, just say, “Because I said so.”

Weight shouldn’t be the insane focus and issue that it is; sometimes over-thinking things just make it worse. Run because you love to run…refuel your body adequately…eat wisely but for 20 mile days that includes wolfing tons of calories…be smart and just do it. 😉

1) What’s your take on the whole obesity issue in general?
For adults I think it’s more a lack of motivation to do the changes necessary.

2) What about childhood obesity? If you’re a parent, if your child was obese what would you do, if anything?
This is something I feel really strongly about, it’s so sad to see 7 year olds that are obese…I think it’s crucial to make changes before they carry that into adulthood.

3) If you’re in the position of having to lose some weight what do you do to go about it sanely?

4) On the flip side, plenty of endurance athletes have trouble keeping the weight on, if that’s you what do you do?
Pop-tarts and Ben & Jerry’s! 😉 I’m half-kidding, I look at is as first get in all the healthy staples and requirements and then add the fun foods on top of that.

5) The best reason to exercise totally non-weight related?
Endorphins baby, and trust me it keeps me sane! 😉

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11 thoughts on “Childhood Obesity and Getting Active: The answer is not in blaming pollution

  1. I think it’s more than just motivation for adults – culturally people are just used to eating unhealthy foods in large amounts. That being said, children are the best place to beak that chain. I would never encourage a parent to tell their child they are fat or need to diet, but the ENTIRE FAMILY can make healthy changes for the better.

  2. I’m rude on this topic so I apologize now. No, it’s ususally not the kids’ fault. But parents, stop being stupid and killing your kids. Feed them vegetables and other healthy foods, if they cry? Tough shit. My parents fed my brothers and I healthy, and when we wouldn’t eat 1 vegetable that we didn’t like, we’d have to go pick out a different one to eat instead. But we always substituted for something healthy.
    That being said, children should be getting exercise on a daily basis. My brothers and I were always outside, if not on our own, but because our parents told us we couldn’t sit inside all day. They still tell us this!
    If my kids was obese I’d make them eat healthy and make them participate in some sort of activity to get moving.
    Generally, if I feel I have to loose weight, I stop eating so much junk food, exercise a bit more, and pick healthier stuff to eat. Maybe I won’t eat AS MUCH, but I definitly still eat lots 🙂
    To keep weight on- candy. I kinda have a sweet tooth.
    And best reason? The way it makes my body looks- all muscled and such 🙂

    • girl, u sound JUST like me!! i always have to sort of preface the whole obesity issue with, “okay, i’m probably going to piss some people off, so i’m sorry if i do.” haha.

  3. I am right there with you girl! If you’re exercising and eating healthy you won’t be obese. IF you are doing all that a nutritionist would recommend and then some and still seem to be dangerously overweight then and only then do I think you can look for other factors like thyroid – but pollution??? I don’t think parents have to tell their children they’re obese, they just have to set the rules – you have to at least try your vegetables, no treats except when mom and dad give them to you, go to bed a 9pm and family walks after dinner every night – or something like that. I like you’re “because I told you so” 🙂
    To lose weight I cut out sugar (except fruit) and non raw snacks like crackers and pretzels. Instead i eat raw fruit and vegetables or sunflower seeds. To gain weight I just eat larger portions at mealtimes or more frequently.
    and lastly – I exercise for achievement 🙂

    • amen! oh, it cracks me up when people cite the thyroid or something else first…mostly because I have hypo-thyroidism…lol. i’m also with u, i think telling the kid they are obese may be a little harsh, but like we said, we have the “i told you so” excuse to work with. 🙂

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