2020: Will Obesity be the Norm?

June 6, 2011
Over the past five years of babysitting, I have witnessed the habits of children while changing diapers, making Macaroni & Cheese, and helping with homework. Although differing diets and increasing exposure to adult media deserves evaluation, I am concerned with children’s lack of interest in being outdoors. I feel as though the importance of being outside has been stashed into the corner of the basement playroom with the other broken toys. It is vital to revert back to the days of less homework and more outdoor play if we want our children to succeed. Many forget the powerful impact that 15 minutes outside, each day, can have on the lives of children. The general decline of children’s interest in outdoor activities is having negative effects on their lives and must be reconsidered in order for children to develop into well-rounded individuals that are able to perform successfully in academic and worldly settings.

Yes, yes. I understand the importance of having children prepared for school settings but I question if workbooks administered at your dining room table really help spark an interest in learning that will last. Many seem to forget that children do not learn in the same manner as adults. Children have the ability to learn about their environment, their world, despite the learning being disguised as play. After all, according to John Dewey, an American educator, educational experiences add to the children’s understanding of the world and allow the children to live more fully. Playing and engaging in outdoor activities not only helps a child to understand nature and the world but also can provide the child the serenity and calmness required to live life to the fullest. Playing outdoors releases large amounts of energy that can be stored in a young child’s body from sitting and being controlled by middle-aged women in khakis. If children are able to appropriately release their natural energy and learn by being outdoors, why are we not enforcing it as strongly as the rhyming families?

Limited exposure to genuine play has begun to affect children at the doctor’s office as well. More and more doctors are diagnosing children with ADHD and prescribing medications to help relieve some symptoms each year. This leads me to wonder if the increase in the diagnoses of an attention deficit disorder is truly a disorder or the result of society’s stress on a workbook learning style.

The emphasis on an inactive means of education has lead to a major health issue. Each year, more and more children are considered obese and the chances that they develop life-threatening diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension during adolescence grows. Children, as young as 16, are having gastric bypass surgery in order to save their lives. Is all of this necessary? Or should we be looking at ways to prevent these diseases? Two words: Outdoor Activity. I believe that if we place an emphasis on playing outside and being active, we can turn these scary statistics around before the end of this decade.

I hope it is simple to see how important minutes of outdoor play can have on a young life. Before purchasing the next Clone Wars DVD for your son, brother, or grandson, consider a soccer ball.

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