Sugar and It’s Role in Childhood Obesity

 There are 300,000 overweight or obese children under the age of 5 in Illinois. Never has there been such a time that calls for extreme measures to try and control what these children are destined for. 

The growth of the fast food industry and increasing portion sizes make it easy for children to overeat. A large fast food meal (double cheeseburger, fries, soft drink, desert) could contain 2200 calories, which is a large adult male’s daily caloric needs. This is what children are eating just for lunch. Let me tell you, I could eat a lot more than that during a trip to Mickey D’s! Besides the calories that fast food joints pack into their meals, it’s the sugar that is the real problem. The sugar is the locomotive behind childhood obesity, and it’s what brings us back wanting more of that fast food. 

Active children usually will no problem with their weight even when eating this way day after day. Once those children become adults and their sports days are over, though, the addiction to the fast food is still there. 

There is a direct positive correlation between the sugar intake of children and obesity trends. Another complication that arises is Type II diabetes, which is becoming a problem much earlier than it should be. When a child consistently has a high sugar intake year after year, insulin receptors are affected. In response to constant sugar overflow, the receptors will tell the body that it needs to consistently release insulin. This becomes like clockwork…think of a daily alarm that will go off no matter what. So, the affected person becomes a diabetic and has to rely on constant sugar intake and monitoring in order to counter the insulin that is lowering blood sugar. 

Sugar is a dangerous addiction. Every high calorie meal out there that children are eating is PACKED with sugar. New studies are being advanced upon every day on the role of sugar in obesity of children and adults. A great study came out this past year on the direct role of soda: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/21/science/la-sci-obesity-soda-link-20120922

Fast food is a large problem in general, but SODA is without a doubt the largest issue we have in our society. Drinking your sugar and calories is the worst way to go. Both children and adults will drink soda throughout the whole day; which is basically like having a huge bag of candy next to you all day and reaching in every couple minutes. We need to slowly eliminate children’s intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. I can’t emphasize enough how much this is affecting young generations. 

The stigma that comes with being an overweight or obese child in today’s society can be devastating. The quality of life is not where a child’s should be. Adolescents that are teased about their weight are 2-3 times more likely to have suicidal ideation and attempts compared to those who are not teased. It affects their education, as no one who is constantly teased wants to get up and go back to school; but they have no choice. They learn to hate school and all that comes with it. Low self-esteem results and that can affect a person for their entire life. 

Here are the worst sugar-packed foods to try and avoid:

1. Soda/carbonated drinks

2. White flour

3. French fries/doughnuts 

4. Energy bars

5. High-sugar cereals

6. Cookies/candy

It’s not that sugar needs to be non-existent in children’s diets, because thats not realistic. It just needs to be limited. If we are conscientious of their intake on a daily basis and have limits to how much they can have, many problems can be avoided. 

 

Move to the beat of your own drum.

 

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