Breathing = obesity risk?
So far, everything from television to DNA has been blamed for kids' obesity.
A large glut of research has accompanied the world's latest epidemic – the growing population. Not growing in number, but still growing in size, whole families are going from obscurity to obesity at an alarming rate. And researchers and parents alike have jumped on the overloaded bandwagon, ready to blame everything from family stress to TV for childhood obesity. "Studies show" a triple serving of denial seems to be the order of the day.

There's even cash in denial. Besides the money that passes hands between government departments, researchers and medical journals for new information on what could cause childhood obesity, it seems that a good way to get a quick buck is to blame the nearest fast food outlet. Or, as was the case in America, sue the restaurant so that we don't have to take responsibility for our weight ourselves.

In Australia researchers from the University of South Australia are saying not to worry about the reported changing rate of overweight children – it's steady. A steady 24% of children are overweight – that's nearly a quarter of the population. A survey done in Swaziland, an area known to suffer famine, stated that being fat was seen as insurance against periods of food shortages and that overweight women and undernourished children make up a large portion of the population. There seems to be a global gluttony that has skewed our view of healthy eating.

South Africa shares in the obesity epidemic. Yet while the government is trying to intervene, children can still be found bouncing through the play palaces at fast food restaurants every night. It may be time that parents start sharing in the responsibility of raising healthy kids.

In some cases, there really are genetic factors which pre-determine weight, but in most areas parents have the power to determine kids' attitude to food.  A little exercise can go a long way and fruit doesn’t have to be relegated to the tinned variety that comes out for pudding. It may be time that South Africans admit to themselves that a diet of pap, hot chips or wine with everything is just not that healthy no matter how culturally entitled we seem to feel to these treats. Starched up "side dishes" and kilojoule crammed cans of cooldrink make up a huge portion of the diet for the overweight children that we are raising. Surely it's time to look in the cupboard instead of at the research.

Do you think we should be paying more attention to research regarding weight or do you think that parents should take more responsibility for the state of their children's health?

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