When you think of obesity, what do you attribute it to? Most people automatically think of eating too much, but technology is also a very important contributor, especially in children under eighteen. Most of them watch too much TV, play videogames way too much, and go on the computer too often. Technology keeps improving the standard in life, but people are ignoring their health, which is leading to obesity in both children and adults.
Exercise and Obesity
All children need at least one hour of exercise each day. Exercise helps kids feel less stressed, boosts their self-esteem, and makes them more ready to learn. It helps kids keep a healthy weight, build and keep healthy bones, muscles, and joints. In addition, exercise helps kids to sleep better. Examples of exercises are competitive sports (i.e. basketball, softball, soccer, etc.), running or walking, biking, dancing, bowling, and yoga. Thirty-one percent of eighth graders and only twenty-one percent of seventh graders would rather play sports in their free time, as opposed to playing videogames, eating, going on the computer, watching television, or listening to music. (Our survey of seventh and eighth graders) A child that is 100 pounds can burn 192 calories by playing basketball for thirty minutes, and 168 calories can be burned by playing baseball for 30 minutes. (Healthy Kids, Henner, Marilu)
There are many risk factors involved with obesity. If a child lives with two obese parents, he or she is six times as likely to become obese; a child with one obese parent is twice as likely as one with no obese parents to become an obese adult. Children are more likely to become obese if they are not encouraged to participate in physical activities, or if they lack opportunities to do sports and recreation. Several hours of television, videogames, and the computer create a bigger risk for kids to become obese than those who get out and exercise. Poverty and little education is also a risk factor: it has been proven that the lower the family income, the more likely it is for a child to be overweight. (Our Overweight Children, Dalton, Sharron)
According to recent studies, the combined average of TV, computer, and videogames per day is five and a half hours for kids. By playing videogames for an hour, kids will burn only forty calories. (Healthy Kids, Henner, Marilu) About 37 percent of seventh graders and about six percent of eighth graders would rather play videogames than play sports. In a survey that was handed out throughout our school, about 66 percent of eighth graders do not play videogames on school nights, and 22 percent spend only one hour playing them.
Technology that is contributing to the obesity of children includes plasma TVs, cell phones, computers, and videogames. Plasma TVs are available anywhere from 40 inches to 63 inches. They come in HD (high definition) and ED (enhanced definition). ED is cheaper than HD, but you might want to pay that extra money if you are a real TV fanatic so that you can have a better picture display. Plasma TVs were named after the thousands of pixels that, when combined with gas, turn into “plasma.” These TVs have “excellent picture quality” (Schiff, pages 39 to 40), but questionable long-term reliability. Forty to forty-four inch plasma TVs are at least $2000, and fifty inch ones are more than $3000.
Many statistics prove obesity in children because of televisions. Ninety-nine percent of kids live in a home with at least one television. Our Overweight Children (Dalton, Sharron) states that thirty-two percent of two through seven year olds and sixty-five percent of eight through twelve year olds have TVs in their rooms. According to our own survey, about 47 percent of the eighth graders have over four televisions in their home all together. The average amount of TV-watching in two to five year olds is three to four hours per day. An average child watches about 1,250 hours of television, and about 38,000 commercials per year. About forty-three percent of teenagers watch more than two hours of TV on a school day, and children that are seven to eleven years old play videogames and watch television for three hours a day. (Our Overweight Children, Dalton, Sharron) Television alternatives are taking a walk, playing outdoors, cleaning your room, taking a bike ride, reading, and talking to someone.
Cell phones are made by many different companies, and there is a variety of carriers that you can choose from. In general, a cell phone can receive texts of up to 160 characters. The display is readable, and it shows the signal strength and battery life of the phone at that moment. Most keypads are easy to use, and cells usually come with a vibrate option and speaker phone. Optional add-ons are headsets, internet access, and games. Phones can be anywhere from free to $600, depending on where you purchase it.
Desktop computers are also a contributor to obesity. Most kids sit on the computer whenever possible, playing games and sending messages to each other via internet. Others read and send emails, shop online, and keep up with the latest Hollywood gossip. These can be, at the least, $300, or they can be more than $3000. The computer comes with the basic “necessities” of a processor, hard drive, random-access memory, CD and DVD drives, tower, keyboard, sound equipment, and sometimes a graphics adapter, liquid-crystal display (LCD) or cathode ray tube (CRT). A certain brand’s newest generation of computers can switch between two different operating systems. In a certain middle school, about 33 percent of the eighth graders spend an hour doing non-academic stuff on the computer, and about 17 percent of those kids would rather be playing on the computer.
Videogames Promoting Fitness
A new invention for younger children plugs into the TV, and includes a bike. Pedaling the bike allows the kids to play games. Likewise, a certain television station is promoting fitness to young children, especially in their programs, and by putting their characters on healthy foods and exercise/sports equipment. New “active” toys are turning lazy, TV-watching kids into exercising kids.
Moreover, a certain videogame has arrows on the screen that coordinate with the arrows on the pad and the beat of each song. There are approximately 80 to 200 steps in one and a half minutes. The score depends on how well you make your steps match the beat and cues. On the beginner level, you can burn about 360 calories per hour, or the equivalent of 520 jumps while jumping rope. If you play on the regular level for one hour, it is the same as running five miles or jumping 3000 times while jumping rope. A workout mode tells the dancer(s) how many calories they have burned during that song. These games cost about $40, and the pads cost between $25 and $30. One variety of this game has more difficult levels and a place to customize your dancers that are shown on the screen while you dance.
A new game uses a motion sensor bar above or below the TV that tracks the controller’s movements. A sports version of this game lets the controller act as a baseball bat, bowling ball, tennis racket, boxing glove, or golf club. In each sport, this game encourages the player to use motions that they would normally use if they were really playing the sport outside.
Eating and What Parents Can Do to Help
Parents can help prevent kids from watching TV, playing videogames, and going on the computer by being active themselves and exercising with their children.
It has been proven that children copy their parents, especially in eating habits. If parents eat the regular, recommended servings of food, their kids are sure to copy, which will promote healthy eating. Parents should plan and eat meals with their kids, and they should emphasize the variety and nutrition in each meal. Alternatives to junk foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. Everyone is supposed to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but most children only eat two or three servings. In an eighth grade class, about 79 percent of the students get balanced nutrition, and about the same amount care about what they eat.
There are many methods of expanding a child’s horizons. A parent can try to serve smaller, normal servings of foods, and less junk food and bread. They can plan an activity instead of eating high-in-fat foods, such as cookies and candy. Also, instead of drinking sugary drinks, soda, and juice, people should try to drink water.
In order for a child to not be tired during the day, they should sleep about nine hours a day. (Our Overweight Children, Dalton, Sharron) A few ways parents can regulate sleeping habits are: having a specific, non-negotiable lights-out time, having their children finish homework before dinner, and making their expectations reasonable for their children. Parents should also try to keep their kids from being distracted while doing homework. According to our recent study, about 62 percent of seventh graders and 67 percent of eighth graders get distracted by technology, whether it is the computer, television, cell phones, music, or something else.
Children need to get away from all of the new technology. They need to play sports, exercise, or just go outside and play with the family pet. Parents should watch what they feed their children; everyone, parents and children, should get five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but in reality, they only get around two. (Our Overweight Children, Dalton, Sharron) Kids should get at least nine hours of sleep each night, but when parents do not put their foot down about bed time and when homework should be done, everything is done not-according-to-plan. Kids eat before they do their homework, then get distracted by technology while they are trying work, and then they stay up until ten or eleven trying to finish their homework. Obesity is a serious problem, and parents should make sure their kids get plenty of exercise and eat healthy.
All photos from: sxc.com; Public Domain
A "fitness" revolution? Certain video games can help one be physically fit instead of physically out of it
Author: Al Molina
© 2004 Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and © 2004 Gale Group
Visited January 29, 2008
Konami Highlights DDR to Nation’s Physical Educators; Press Release
Company Affiliated: Konami Corporation
Posted April 15, 2005 in Redwood City, CA
Visited January 29, 2008
The Nintendo Wii and the Physical Fitness of Today's Gamers
By Jason Rybka
Visited January 29, 2008
© 2008 by About.com, Part of New York Times Company
Exercise for Children
Company Affiliated: Medline Plus (Part of U.S. National Library of Medicine)
Revised January 23, 2008
Visited January 29, 2008
Fitness is child's play: With products like Smart Cycle, toy makers exercise imagination and technology to fight obesity
Company Affiliated: EbscoHost
Author: Morris, Keiko
© 2008 EBSCO Industries
Visited January 28, 2008
Posted February 9, 2007
Schiff, David: editor. Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2007.
Yonkers: Consumers Union of the U.S. © 2006
Author: Dalton, Sharron
Title: Our Overweight Children
Publisher: University of California Press
Place of Publication: Berkeley and Los Angeles, California; London, England
Author: Henner, Marilu and Lorin
Title: Healthy Kids
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Place of Publication: 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
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