Home » Blog » Emily Cohen » Who's Really Responsible for the Obesity Epidemic?

About Me

Emily Cohen
Emily Cohen

Who's Really Responsible for the Obesity Epidemic?

| comments

I'm tired of people blaming schools, sports leagues, and any variety of other organizations and factors for the fact that their children are overweight - obese, even - couch potatoes who play video games and eat junk food. Stop blaming and start looking at yourselves, parents!

Last week, the Dallas Morning News published an article by columnist Nancy Churnin blaming high school sports and the increasingly competitive and elite sports at earlier ages for the obesity epidemic. Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I question the value of elite sports at the younger levels and have not 100% bought into the current status quo of high school sports, but pinning the obesity epidemic on schools and travel teams? Laughable.

For every "travel" and competitive sports team in a typical American town, there are 2 or 3 "rec" league teams. It is not shameful, as Ms. Churnin seems to think, to be on a rec team. In fact, for most kids, it is the absolutely appropriate level to keep them interested in fitness and having fun. I know plenty of kids who didn't make the limited rosters of 15-20 players at high schools with an overall student population in the thousands who don't feel that they are "losers" and continue to play rec league sports, love the fact that they do, and stay in shape at the same time; at very little or no cost. Many of these rec (as well as some competitive) leagues offer scholarships to families in need, so the cost issue doesn't hold water with me either.

i think parents and families in general need to stop blaming others for something that should begin at home: health and fitness. it's been demonstrated time and time again that healthy, active parents equal healthy, active kids. Period. How many of those parents complaining that their kids are overweight, eat junk food and prefer video games to physical activity actually model the active, healthy lifestyle they want for and expect from their kids?

As parents, we choose what we feed our children. We choose whether they eat junk food or whether they eat a healthy, balanced meal. We choose what limits we put on their screen time. We choose what physical activity they get every day, during the school week AND on weekends.

Health and fitness are not the schools' responsibity. It is ours, as parents. And it is within everyone's reach - no matter what socio-economic group. Stop looking to organized sports to provide your child's and your family's fitness. Start hiking on the weekends rather than stitting around watching TV. Go for a family bike ride. Whatever you do, get off that couch and move! Schools and high school sports are not responsible for the Type II diabetes epidemic; we, as parents, are.