International Children’s Day, or the International Day for Protection of Children, has been celebrated since 1950 and just passed on June 1st. In commemoration of this day, it’s important to think about how can we celebrate children and how can we protect them.
There are many ways to protect our children. The most obvious ways are through laws and regulations that keep them safe. It is an understatement that children should be protected from discrimination, neglect, abuse of any kind (sexual, physical, psychological or emotional), and from exploitation (child labour, slavery, prostitution, or pornography).
A less obvious protection, but equally important, is to safeguard children from disease. Not only from airborne, infectious, or foodborne diseases, but from non-communicable chronic diseases. In other words, we should take preventive steps to help children avoid illness and allow their health to thrive.
If you take an in-depth look around, you’ll realize that we are falling short. We are not just neglecting our kids health, but, on the contrary, we are putting them at risk of disease.
Consider the statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Over 30% of children (ages 6 to 19) in the US are considered to be overweight, and 1 in 6 are classified as obese. This kind of state at a young age is incapacitating and sets a debilitating standard for their life to come, not only physically but mentally and emotionally. The serious issue is that, generally, the majority of obese adolescents stay obese as adults.
- Type 2 diabetes in younger populations (ages 10 to 19 years old) increased 21 percent between 2001 and 2009, and keeps on increasing.
- About 1 in 5 youngsters (ages 12 to 19) has at least one lipid abnormality, including high cholesterol.
- Youngsters ages 12 to 19 spend almost 60% of their time in sedentary behaviors. Sedentarism increases the risk of disease (obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid and mood disorders).
These figures reveal a horrible reality. They tell us that an unacceptable number of children in our current society are overweight or obese, sedentary, and present diabetes type 2 and cholesterol abnormalities.
It is outrageous because these conditions are preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Sadly, we are coming short and not fulfilling the obligation to protect our future generations.
RAISING HEALTHIER FUTURE GENERATIONS
The good thing about this gloomy picture is that it’s reversible. Fortunately, the human body aims to keep internal systems balanced and functioning. With the proper tools, it has an amazing ability to heal and repair, even after years of abuse and neglect.
Abuse and neglect? Yes, having a diet filled with processed foods and junk, and not exercising is abusive and neglectful to the body.
Children have no control over their environment and most of their choices. Therefore, it is our responsibility to have healthy choices available and set the tone for an active life.
Tips to implement in your own environment:
- Eliminate the regular consumption of junk and processed food: fast food, soda, candy, chips, white flour (white bread, white rice, white pasta, commercial baking goods), processed meals, commercial popcorn, milk and juice, fried foods, etc. Children can eat these foods once in a while but not habitually.
- Give them fruits and vegetables at least twice a day.
- Provide healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbs daily.
- Keep children hydrated: The recommended daily amount of fluids is 5 glasses for 5 to 8 year olds, 7 glasses (1.5 liters) for 9 to 12 year olds, and 8 to 10 glasses (over 2 liters) for 13+ year olds.
- Encourage daily activity. Children’ bodies need exercise everyday.
Besides safeguarding children’ bodies, we have to protect and celebrate their mind and spirit:
- Praise their unique characteristics.
- Reward them.
- Be a positive source.
- Encourage them to aim high and to believe in themselves while taking humanity in consideration.
Children are among the most vulnerable creatures. Shelter them from harm, protect their bodies from preventable disease, and nurture healthy mindsets. Help develop healthier children holistically (their bodies, minds, and spirits) in order to breed a beneficial future for all.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor