Arkansas doctors are warning that obesity among children is growing rapidly in the State. A recently published study has found that the obesity rate in Craighead County had tripled since 1980. It also suggested that 38% of Arkansas students are also at risk of developing problems associated with obesity.
Speaking with reporters one of the authors of the report, Dr. Jennifer Martinez said: “I think there needs to be more focus on physical activity, nutrition. I think parents feel they have to keep their kids busy, constantly on the move, but with that comes fast food easy and a very busy lifestyle.”
She added: “Parents need to get back to basics. Focusing on proper nutrition, family meals, having physical activities like taking walks together. This is all very important.”
This particular report is one of a number of studies being carried out across the West to determine how far we have come in halting obesity. A report in Britain suggests that there will be a massive obesity problem in this country by 2030, unless action is taken now to solve it.
One of the biggest problems facing society today is the over reliance of high sugar, high fat, ready meals. Rather than cooking from scratch using fresh produce, many families find it easier and quicker to make do with a processed meal bought from a supermarket or local chip shop. While the latter was often considered a treat for many families in the UK, they have now become part of a family’s normal diet. Nutritionists believe this attitude has got to change if the obesity problem is to be cured.
As for Arkansas, the State operates a Centre for Healthy Children. This aims to help children and their parents who are struggling with their weight. Dr. Martinez said: “We work on proper nutrition, exercise and just an all around healthy lifestyle. By doing this, we hope to create healthy habits that they can take on with them into their future.”
As part of the programme children are taught about suitable foods to choose and what portions are sufficient. They are also educated on other related matters including the need to exercise. Parents are also given tips on how to cook light meals.
Dr. Martinez continued: “Eating healthy is a process. We offer healthy snacks during our session and our one rule is that the children have to at least try a bite of the healthy food we’re offering.
A lot of these children have never even tried things like tomatoes, bananas, watermelon. And they are hesitant, at first, because these foods are different textures they haven’t tried before. But most of the time, we’ve found after they try it they really like it.”