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Is Childhood Obesity About to Skyrocket?

  • 5 min read


by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

To preface this article, I don’t have any concrete evidence that childhood obesity is about to skyrocket, but what the data and today’s behaviors are showing is where I’m basing my prediction.

The latest data I see is from 2022, where 17% of today’s youth is considered obese. To give you a little bit to reference from, in the 1970s, only 5% of the youth were considered obese.

I’m not here to bring fear into the lives of parents, but I think it’s time they took a long, hard look at the behaviors of their kids. What are they doing? What are they eating? How active are they?

In this article, I want to provide you with my opinion as to why I feel the childhood obesity percentage is about to skyrocket.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended you speak to a pediatrician about your child’s activity level and nutrition.

Electronics Are Going to Drive Up Childhood Obesity

Many kids today are turning into a younger form of their parents. Why? Because kids are impressionable, and they learn from what they see their parents doing. Whether or not parents like it, they are role models for their children.

When you look at most adults today, they are fat, lazy, and complacent. So, it’s only natural for those qualities (poor qualities at that) to be passed down to kids.

At home, think about what you do. Are you constantly on your phone? Are you constantly snacking? Are you lounging on the couch all night watching television? Or are you active, adventurous, and consume healthy foods?

More than 70% of American adults are considered overweight, and over 40% are obese. If 40% of adults are obese, they got that way due to their habits and behaviors. Who do you think is watching this? Their kids. Which is what could drive up childhood obesity.

If it’s good for mommy and daddy, it’s got to be fine for me, right? What kid wouldn’t think that when they believe mommy and daddy are the smartest people on the planet and their role models?

Electronics are making us dumber, slower, and unhealthier than ever (which is leading us down the road of a spike in childhood obesity). We are glued to our devices and connected to them at the hip.

Think about it… People flip out if they can’t find their phones. Adults are less social today and spend time in front of the television or scrolling through social media, looking at images, and engaging with posts of people they don’t even know in person. It’s like a fake reality we’re living in today.

I see so many kids going into restaurants with iPads. When did this become commonplace? I’d never allow my kids to sit on an iPad at dinner when the family should be social and talk with their kids about their day and various topics.

Granted, there are some medical conditions that would warrant the need for such devices, but let’s put that to the side as an outlier.

Also, look around you in your everyday life. Walking down the street, how many people are on their phones? How many people are eating at a restaurant with a phone in their hand scrolling? I’m willing to bet the majority of the people are.

When kids are at home, they’re playing video games with the kid next door. In separate houses! They’re sitting in their room texting their friends. They spend hours upon hours with a device or controller in their hands.

I’m not about to tell you how to parent your kids, but that’s ridiculous in my eyes. They should earn “screen time,” and when the time is up, the device or gaming console needs to be turned off.

These things are privileges, not rights. And parents need to put their foot down and have some control over their kids’ electronic usage. Sitting on their butts for hours and not being active is promoting a sedentary lifestyle, and it’s going to lead to an increase in childhood obesity.

What Happened to Walking or Riding a Bike?

Physical activity is important for kids. It allows them to get out energy from the day (especially if they were in school all day) and allows them time for free play and creativity.

Heck, back when I was a kid, we would walk to our friend’s house or ride our bikes and had no issue playing with sticks and being creative with play. Or we’d gather up a bunch of kids and play sports.

Today, I hardly ever see that happening. There has been a transition due to technology, and kids are now riding hoverboards and electronic scooters everywhere. It’s as if they aren’t capable of putting one foot in front of the other or pushing the pedals on a bike around in circles.

Technology today is going to drive up childhood obesity — it’s only a matter of time. With how quickly technology changes and innovates, I’m actually afraid to see where we are in 10-20 years — both from an electronics/technology standpoint and a childhood obesity standpoint.

It’s my opinion that parents need to start stepping up to the plate and better managing the habits and behaviors of not only themselves but their kids, too. We are heading down a slippery slope when it comes to childhood obesity, and when we get to the bottom, it’s a long way to get back up to the top.