Weighing the Options

How Can We Encourage Healthy Weights among America's Youth?

Expect personal responsibility for fitness

The crux of the problem is that our children are not getting the education and supervision they need in order to be fit and healthy. Eating and exercise habits established during childhood have lifetime consequences. Adults need to play a stronger role in guiding young people to choose healthy foods and include enough physical activity in their daily lives. Parents and teachers need to be good role models and make healthy lifestyles a top priority.

Invest in overall child well-being

The crux of the problem is that we focus too much on children's weight as the primary concern, rather than as a symptom of other issues. For many, food is a source of comfort during difficult times, which can lead to a pattern of overeating as a way to cope with emotions. For others, the lack of affordable, healthy food is an ongoing cause of worry and poor health. The media contributes to the problem by promoting unattainable body images. Investing in the overall well-being of children is the best way to help them maintain healthy weights.

Change our culture to encourage fitness

The crux of the problem is that our society bombards children and families with opportunities to eat more and do less. Fast foods, electronic pastimes, less gym time, and multi-car families have all contributed to the problem of obesity. We need to drastically change our home, school, and community environments to restore a healthy balance between the calories we eat and the calories we burn. Advertisers need to become part of the solution by promoting healthier food options, especially to young audiences.