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Don’t let food and media consumption be the downfall for obese children

May 9, 2016

Characters in programming for children often exhibit unhealthy habits.

Parents play a major role in the development of their child. Sometimes it’s a good idea to restrict what they can watch. Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill found that in movies like Kung Fu Panda, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel and Shrek the Third, the main characters are insulted for being overweight, and even worse, throughout the films these fictional beings partake in several unhealthy practices.

With childhood obesity being a problem in today’s society, it’s important to make sure they are receiving the right message. Parents should be aware of the TV their watching, video games and computer activities.

“These children’s movies offer a discordant presentation about food, exercise and weight status. While glamorizing unhealthy eating and sedentary behavior yet condemning obesity itself,” said Dr. Eliana Perrin. Dr. Perrin is the associate professor of pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine.

Obesity has many negative affects

A study shows when obese children are less active and physically fit, weight can increase stress levels. Erica van den Akker of Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, one of the author’s of the study, said recent research showed obese kids produce more of the hormone cortisol, when compared to normal weight peers.

“It was surprising to find obese children, as young as age 8, had elevated cortisol levels,” van den Akke. “By analyzing children’s scalp hair, we confirmed high cortisol levels persisted over time.”

The conducted a study of 20 obese children and 20 normal weight children over the course of one month. The findings showed obese kids had an average cortisol concentration of 25 pg/mg in their scalp hair, 8 pg/mg higher than those in the normal weight group. Researchers can’t directly correlate that obesity leads to higher levels of stress, but won’t be out of the ruling.

Parents can help kids fight obesity with exercise

While obesity drags some kids down, others want to get back into shape and make physical fitness a priority. Combining martial arts training with a healthy diet and exercise, kids can get rid of obesity label in no time. They find that they have higher levels of self-esteem, improved confidence and a greater willingness to go out and make friends. Here are some tips from Breaking Muscle on how to make that happen:

  • Get kids doing some strength and cardiovascular training:

The best way to get kids running around is to involve them in activities they like. This is why martial arts like Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have been the answer for so many obese children. In these classes, they can get the appropriate amount of exercise, while also learning self-defense skills.

  • Stress the importance of proper nutrition:

Obese kids can exercise all they want, but if they fail to be healthy eaters, it can be a long road to a fit body. Parents must drill their kids on why they need to eat healthy and inform them on what types of foods are acceptable. Many children understand that their parents know what is best for them.

  • Less couch, more playing:

Children have smartphones, gaming systems and endless TV programming. These can lead to them parking themselves on the couch and relaxing for hours. While it’s OK to do this occasionally, parents need to get their kids out of the house and doing activities.