Obesity is a common problem in today’s world. Unfortunately, it is our children who seem to be most increasingly affected. Various researches have shown that childhood obesity is not “natural” — there are a variety of contributing factors.
Chubby babies may be considered cute, but we need to be aware their health is at stake. There are a variety of diseases that accompany obesity, such as heart disease from increased levels of cholesterol. Chubby children tend to be less active, and the bulk that accumulates on their bodies makes it very difficult to participate in activities that could lead to a healthy lifestyle.
Here at Every Child Healthy, we believe that Obesity or Fat is the symptom or side effect of what is really going on within a child. You can treat the fat all you want, but the inner causes are still there, and will either manifest in fat form again — or another form.
Knowing the CAUSE is of extreme importance to the HOW to fix it. In this article, we will focus on some of the various causes of childhood obesity, and what we can do about it.
CAUSE #1: Lack of love
Children are starving to be loved; it is a need to survive. Unless this need is met regularly, children find other ways to get it. Eating, computers, and video games allow them to avoid the feelings of not being loved. You might think, “I love my child, he/she knows that.” Although there is no doubt parents love their children, they need to see, hear and feel it daily.
You will know when this happens because they will express love back to you.
When was the last time you asked your child to write down on a piece of paper all the reasons why they love themselves?
Do you see how this will support your child in building a powerful way of life? When you love yourself you think, feel and act differently.
CAUSE #2: Low self-worth
We eat for self-connection; the feelings food produces are temporary fixes that make us feel better about feeling bad.
When children feel down and unworthy, they fill the void with food or some other form of temporary relief. They become more sedentary instead of alive.
What lies underneath is more important. Let us not get stuck on our FAT, but what is driving our obesity. Children today need to feel worthy; they need to feel like they are a champion — deserving and worthy of love and success.
CAUSE #3: Lack of emotional IQ
Children need to understand what emotions and feelings are, why they have them and most of all what to do with them. Building emotional IQ creates a powerful child, who will learn how worthy they are and to create self-love. It teaches your child how to create empowering habits.
Parents can help provide the building blocks by having meaningful conversations with their children, asking them thoughtful questions and engaging them with anecdotes, advice and life lessons on a regular basis.
CAUSE #4: Family/Parents
Lack of family continuity, the ability to share, love communicate and with your family. The leader of the family, the one in charge or who has the strongest authority, will determine the continuity of the family, health and security. The energy that is expressed in each family will affect your children in a variety of ways and each family has an energetic theme. An energetic theme is the most dominant feeling the family expresses.
If you children and teens are watching you drink soda and high carbohydrates, they will to, it’s that simple and it’s NOT rocket science.
CAUSE #5: Emotionally Stuck
Getting stuck in negative unwanted feelings is easy for overweight children. Simply because we have not taught children about how their minds and emotions work, they avoid negative feelings or act them out, then get stuck in them because they don’t have empowering strategies to work through unwanted negative feelings. So, they eat, watch TV and play on the Internet to avoid feeling bad.
Again, this is where parents can play a huge role with more engagement, more bonding and more nurturing. They need to start showing children some alternative behaviors and reactions to frustrating situations.
Lastly, when our children feel emotionally stuck, parents too often feed them sugar to make them feel better. Why? Because parents have not been taught strategies to deal successfully with disempowering feelings themselves and therefore feed them in order to cope with it.
CAUSE #6: S.E.E. – Significant Emotional Event
A traumatic event or even a series of events This is a big one. Some children are or have been abused. This is not just physical abuse, but children who are scared of a parent or sibling will eat as a way to avoid feeling scared. Fat is used as a physical buffer to protect ourselves.
Children who feel ignored, criticized, teased or blamed for their behaviors end up deeply hurt and feeling emotionally abused.
Just ask any woman who has been in a marriage with abuse or that was just a complete disaster. They put on weight, which is a self-protective mechanism, albeit an unhealthy one; but it works. No child is prepared or developed enough to handle significant events, but the scars manifest in a variety of ways. Obesity is one of them. Fat helps create “tougher skin.”
CAUSE #7: Learning
More often then not, they’ve never been taught to love school, healthy eating, exercise, and how to take on challenges. They eat emotionally and conditionally, not by choice, to enhance their sense of well-being. We throw our children into school because that’s what we do as a society, but we RARELY teach them to discover and learn about themselves.
They also need to learn about nutrition, exercise and how it effects their bodies, mind and behaviors. Children and teens who are overweight, know they are overweight, they want to be challenged and do something about it. Our job as parents it to support them, not disempower them.
CAUSE #8: Technology
Along with the computer becoming the #1 babysitter in our country, our children can now accomplish pretty much anything with one. The computer creates an imbalance of physical interaction with virtual interaction and causes a more sedentary lifestyle, not to mention eating unconsciously while on it. This includes video games and cell phones; seems in today’s world, we can get things done faster without moving our entire body.
Children have learned to get their needs met elsewhere, like computers, TV, video games and so on, when they would rather be with their family and friends.
CAUSE #9: Environment
Living in “fight or flight.” A child or teen is the by-product of their environment. If there is stress, fear or difficulty in their home or environment, they are most likely living in fight or flight, which is a natural response to stress. Fight or flight causes children to either run or avoid their fear, or resist it. They have to defend themselves somehow. Either way keeps the fear alive, and thus they must find a strategy to transform it.
Living in a stressful environment creates hormone imbalance. It increases cortisol levels and can create hunger pains or the need for more sugar. Once they begin craving it, they eat it and now we have kids on speed and packing on calories all because their environment is not supporting them.
Who teaches our children how to overcome fear, and where will they learn this? Everyone has fear. You can transform it or have fear run your life. Far too many children and adults allow fear to run an aspect of their life.
A child who lacks self-worth and love will have more anxiety, sadness and other unwanted emotions in their life that will cause them to eat and not care what they eat — or worse, to not even care about their life.
Also included in environment are toxins that can cause obesity. Toxins are stored in fat, and the more toxins our children are around or ingest, the more fat the body creates to buffer the toxins from creating a disease.
There are more toxins in and around our home and food today than ever before.
CAUSE #10: Culture
We live in a culture that conditions us to eat to feel better about feeling bad. Food is designed for nutrition and healing purposes, not self-entertainment and avoiding unwanted emotions — yet that is what it has become.
Our culture “things” eat fewer calories and exercise more” and you will lose weight. That is simply not the case. Children need quality NUTRITION and more NUTRITION than they are getting and we should help to assure they do eat quality nutrition.
With quality nutrition and 30 minutes minimum of focused exercise, children and teens will drop the weight. In fact, you cannot become obese if you REMOVE breads, wheat, most sugars and starches from your diet. Did you know that?
Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating junk will make you fat in addition to the rest of your life being out of balance.
Our culture also reminds us that “thin is beautiful” and fat is not. When overweight children see thin children getting all the love and attention, they resort to their survival strategy called EATING to feel better about feeling bad.
Thirteen-year-old girls look at a model on the cover of a magazine and instantly feel bad or want to be like that model, instead of feeling inspired to be themselves. Why do they want to be like the model? Why do boys want to be like sports heroes?
Because children see all the love and attention they get and that is exactly what your children want!
It is very hard to FEEL like SOMEONE and BECOME SOMEONE when you’re overweight. But, when we teach our children to unleash their natural passion, desire for life and to live a quality life with a purpose, they will take on the challenge of obesity and win.
Releasing the weight (not losing, since we don’t want to find it again!) is not complicated. It is a simple science: eat organic healthy foods that give the body nutrition, exercise and discipline and the weight will drop.
If it were that easy, we would all be models. It’s not. Why? Because there are underlying challenges our children and teens face; mainly the ones I just wrote about.
Our culture has produced more unhealthy food and sodas, and our children are bombarded with more advertisements that seduce them into eating bad foods. YES, nutrition and exercise in school has diminished, at home as well.
While we cannot blame, we must create solutions. Luckily, children only eat five meals a week at school, maximum. Five meals per week is not going to make your child obese. We must seek to be smart consumers. Wealthy or poor, it does not take more money to eat healthier. That is just a limiting belief. Although having money can help, it should NOT be an excuse at the expense of your child or teens life.
Lastly, children and teens today want to feel loved; they are fighting for their existence, to BE someone, to make a difference.
The challenge with just attacking the obesity epidemic from a diet and exercise point of view is that NO ONE wants to have to diet and exercise his or her ENTIRE life. It is not sustainable, we need to raise and build champions in our children and teens.
When we raise and build champions, we raise a group of children who are passionate, capable and resilient to take on life’s challenges. Obesity is a challenge; meeting that challenge with passion, love, and strategies that empower our children and teens will transform this epidemic — versus preaching to our kids to eat better and get of their fanny.
They have to WANT IT. They have to CHOOSE life over obesity. They can and they will, when they have the right ingredients, the right strategies to work with.
Hence, empower your children, love them, and make them emotionally strong to help them lead an-obesity-free and healthy life.
Coach Carl Logrecco, ECH Founder and CEO, has coached, advised and counseled hundreds of doctors all throughout the U.S. , Canada and Australia in patient care, communications, inspiring patients and running a family-care office environment. Having been a personal and professional trainer and speaker for 11 years, he has now dedicated his life to our younger generation in building champions for life.