Habits, not Heredity, Linked to Childhood Obesity

When I was a teenager, I found myself blaming my obesity on my genes. What’s crazy is that nobody in my family was obese except my dad’s oldest sister (he was one of eleven siblings). I figured it must be her fault – she was the person to blame for my weight issues because blaming her was easier than blaming myself.

Taking full responsibility would have meant that I was the one person who created the problem. I wasn’t ready to admit that so I blamed her.

I really wanted to blame my parents, too. But that was impossible since they were both in very good physical condition. I knew it really wasn’t the fault of anyone else that I was overweight. I was the one who was eating food for comfort. Nobody ever forced me to eat. But when my grandpa told me that I was going to grow up to be like my obese aunt, he led me to believe that she and I inherited the same gene: the FAT GENE. I didn’t realize that when he said those words, they didn’t only give me something to blame my obesity on, but they caused me to believe I would NEVER be thin and that I might as well eat everything I wanted. Hey, why not?

Eat Less and Move More

Now I know I didn’t inherit the fat gene at all. I was eating too much and moving too little, it really is as simple as that. So when I recently read about the results from a recent study at the University of Michigan that links childhood obesity with a sedentary lifestyle and poor health habits, I know there will be people out there who will be upset with these findings. Why? If I were still morbidly obese, I would probably feel the same way. It’s like taking away a person’s ability to blame someone else for their own issues. But blaming heredity is easy, it’s often a way of giving up — saying I cannot possibly fix this, I was born with it… Poor me, right?

Let’s face reality, childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years for two reasons (hint: it’s not because of any fat gene):

  1. Children are simply eating too much fat, sugar, salt and calories. Who is supplying them with these types of foods?
  2. Children are not exercising enough… many aren’t exercising at all.

Turning off the television and computer games and the endless list of electronic gadgets our kids use for fun isn’t easy. But, turning these things off for a couple hours each day, encouraging the kids (and adults) to go outside and move, children (and adults) would lose weight. Many of us know what we need to do, but admitting it, and acting on that knowledge is another story.

Photo Credit: mmmcrafts

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