Did you know that at least thirty present (31.9%) of children in the USA have the Body Mass Indexes (BMI) that characterize them as overweight or obese (Benson and Mokhtari 233)? What is even more interesting, the statistic gives the same one-third of obese people among the adult population (Benson and Mokhtari 233). In other words, the numbers of overweight children and adults are almost the same.
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And although it does not directly follow from two facts mentioned above, it suggests the idea that overweight parents usually have overweight children, i.e., transmit their eating habits to them. It is widely known and proven by numerous studies that parents have the most significant influence on their children’s lifestyles, especially their eating habits; in addition to the fact that children copy everything their parents do, including eating habits and lifestyles, which also affect the BMI, even work positions that parents occupy matter.
To start with, parents are the most important people in the lives of their kids – they are role models to them. That is why they have a direct influence on their children to make decisions, and eating habits are not an exception. Researchers claim that children who have parents who lead healthy lifestyles are more likely to lead healthy lifestyles by themselves (Driscoll par. 2).
As an example, children whose parents drink soda or eat quick meals are almost twice more likely to eat junk food than children of parents who eat healthier (Driscoll par. 7). Similarly, if parents eat fruits and vegetables regularly, children, nearly 20% are more likely to eat healthy meals than children whose parents do not follow any diet (Driscoll par. 7). That is how parents are responsible for their children’s obesity because of their own eating habits.
Nevertheless, even if parents lead healthy lifestyles, it does not mean that they are free from responsibility for their children’s obesity. The way in which a child is treated at home and how much time he or she spends with the parents mean a lot. As a prime example, Benson and Mokhtari have established a stable connection link between parents’ working schedules and children’s BMIs (241).
Children whose mothers work and have not enough time to keep an eye on their kids’ nutrition tend to omit breakfasts, eat unhealthy foods, eat away from home, have unreasonably large portions, and so on (Benson and Mokhtari 234). If both parents work, the situation becomes even more disturbing. Apparently, if parents do not have time for their children for other reasons, apart from the working schedule, the same consequences follow. So, if parents do not teach their children to eat healthy foods, the responsibility still lies on them, even if their own eating habits are perfect.
Another important reason why parents are responsible for their children’s body weight is the fact that they control their daily schedule, particularly how much they move and how physically active or inactive they are. Sedentary lifestyles and activities, which include watching TV, playing video games, excessive use of the Internet, and so forth, are directly related to obesity levels (LeBlanc et al. 2).
And the origins of those sedentary lifestyles usually go back to childhood. In addition to the fact that watching television contributes to overweight, it is also full of food commercials that advertise fatty foods, which also makes children prefer unhealthy meals (Cevallos par. 1). If parents do not control how much time their children spend in front of computers and TV sets, children can become overweight, especially if their nutrition is not so good either.
As one of the most common counterarguments, many people state that not parents are responsible for the high levels of obesity among children, but schools are. Admittedly, schools do have some impact on children in this regard, for instance, educators can teach students to eat healthier, show them how to read nutritional labels, which nutritional supplements are good and which should be avoided, etc. (Richmond par. 3). However, parental influence is much more significant.
Firstly, students rarely copy the behaviors and habits of their teachers while they do it with their parents. Secondly, teachers are able to control students only while those are in school while parents get the rest of the time. Finally, even in schools, educators do not have such an influence on children, as their parents do. It is impossible to control what students bring in their lunch boxes from home or buy somewhere else (Richmond par. 2).
With this in mind, not many doubts remain regarding who is responsible for children’s obesity and who is able to change the situation. While teachers in schools do have some impact on their students’ eating habits, parental influence is much more significant. So, that is parents who should use their power and make a difference, pushing their children to eat fruits or vegetables to get a desert, providing them with healthy snacks to schools, and so on (“Parenting Practices” par. 5-11).
However, even though this conclusion is evident after all the arguments and evidence presented in the paper, some limitations and exceptions can be seen. For example, in boarding schools or orphanages, educators are the most influential figures. So, I am ready to reconsider my conclusion in such a case.
Benson, Lisa and Manouchehr Mokhtari. “Parental Employment, Shared Parent-Child Activities and Childhood Obesity.” Journal of Family and Economic Issues 32 (2011): 233-244. Print.
Cevallos, Marissa. TV fast-food ads encourage childhood obesity, pediatricians say 2011. Web.
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Driscoll, Gwendolyn. New factor in teen obesity: parents 2009. Web.
LeBlanc, Allana, Peter Katzmarzyk, Tiago Barreira, Stephanie Broyles and Jean-Philippe Chaput. “Correlates of Total Sedentary Time and Screen Time in 9-11 Year-Old Children around the World: The International Study of Childhood Obesity, Lifestyle and the Environment.” PLoS One 10.6 (2015): 1-20. Print.
Richmond, Emily. Should Schools Be Responsible for Childhood Obesity Prevention? 2015. Web.