A Shift From Climbing Trees To Video Games – Are Today’s Kids Doomed To Obesity?

You may think the above is a pessimistic title for a blog piece – but it’s really based on extensive research which has conclusively determined that, yes, large numbers of children simply don’t get the levels of exercise which would have been considered the norm just a few decades ago.

This writer grew up some time before the days of there being a TV set in every child’s bedroom, and computer games being such a massive part of young people’s lives.

Growing Up Then
I and my schoolmates were rarely indoors, especially on the lighter evenings, and while we may have caused some worry among a small number of adults, we had the luxury of plenty of playing areas and school fields on which we could act out our fantasies of being the next George Best, or leaping into and out of trenches fighting off the enemy.

Growing Up Now
Today, though, many people make a direct link between increasing childhood obesity and two particular factors – that so many schools have sold off their playing fields, and the general desire by parents to know where their children are at all times, which means their chances to let off steam outdoors are greatly restricted.

Of course, barely a week goes by without some lurid headline which suggests that parents in the latter group are right to want to shelter their offspring from harm. But the shortage of properly designated play areas is indeed a problem in many parts of the country, and the fact that children are taught to stay well away from many areas which their counterparts many years ago would have looked upon as simply another playground is another reason why, slowly but surely, physical activity is becoming increasingly rare as part of a youngster’s daily life.

Over Reacting?
‘Health and safety’ sometimes seems all-pervasive in today’s society, and while such concerns barely registered in the minds of the 10-year-olds of a few decades back, today, they have lessons in school on the subject, and so are made only too aware of it.

No one would suggest that children running around unchecked doesn’t pose at least some danger, but if there is one way in which children can save themselves from adding to the growing obesity statistics, it’s to find an active sport which they enjoy, and put their energies into that.

Of course, lots of youngsters still do spend large parts of their evenings and weekends doing this – it’s just a shame that many have to get the encouragement and enthusiasm for doing so from outside their schools, where once these would have been their main sources of such a hunger. And now over to my fellow writer to add a different perspective:

A view from a youngster growing up around video games
Since 1980, the rate of obesity among children and teenagers has almost tripled and there are fewer and fewer children playing in parks and climbing trees. I was fortunate to grown up during a time of burgeoning technology that still held a focus on outdoor activities, and consider myself a relatively healthy kid, though my sweet tooth didn’t help anything.

Now although I was absolutely useless at sports, I was a bit of an expert tree climber; however when my parents bought a Nintendo Entertainment System, I discovered that I was an expert at that too. Even today I know how to blitz through Super Mario via all the warp zones.

However, video gaming was still a relative unknown at the time, and certainly not the multi-million industry it is now. Over time, video games were no longer restricted to the odd geeky type – now everyone owns some sort of gaming system. So is this growth in obesity proportionate to the rise of the video games? Well, according to 2011 study by the American Society for Nutrition, video games do in fact increase food intake in an average adolescent.

This is not to say that video games are the sole root of obesity, as there are activities involving just as much effort, such as surfing the internet or just watching television. And with an increased number of television channels freely available and faster broadband speeds, sitting and staring at a screen seems like a relatively desirable option!

Christine Natalia is a writer who thinks a lot about how to get fit and is an avid gardener so is often searching online for top gardening tips She hope you enjoy this post and find it informative. This article was written by a guest author. Would you like to write for us?

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