Why Kids Are Getting Fat
The Inactive Child
At the same time that american children are eating more, they're also -- like American adults -- leading increasingly sedentary lives. Only seven states even require elementary schools to have certified physical education instructors, and some schools have canceled recess to allow more time for academics.
A bigger problem: Instead of spending time in physical play, many kids amuse themselves with television, video games, and computers. Says James Hill, "There's a mismatch between our physiology and our environment."
The AAP cites Nielsen ratings showing that children ages 2 to 5 watch about 25 hours of TV per week. And the more time a child watches TV, studies find, the more likely he'll be overweight -- not only because he's less active during those hours but also because he's snacking and watching commercials for high-fat, high-sugar foods. "When children watch a lot of television, they tend to eat more," says Dr. Dietz.
Because of their increasingly busy lives, it's hard for parents to find the time to engage their children in active play -- and tempting to use TV as a babysitter. "Ashley was a very sedentary child," says Terry Malin. "She could watch TV for hours. And I admit that I let her, because after a long day of work, it gave me a break to get things done around the house."