Youth Obesity Isn’t the Problem!

Youth Obesity Isn’t the Problem!

1 out of every 3 children in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese according to the Center for Disease Control. Obesity however is just a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Are you aware of what’s going on in the trenches? Are you paying attention to your child? The following are real life examples of the current culture:

Jeff’s parents want him to choose soccer now. Right now! And they want him to receive soccer specific training. The youth fitness professional explains his program for this age group isn’t sport specific. The parents choose not to enroll. By the way, Jeff is 6 years old.

Ryan has a basketball game at 8PM and then soccer practice the next morning at 6AM. Ryan is 9 years old. “They’re kids, they’ll adjust.” Did he eat before the game and the early practice? What was the quality of the food if he did eat? Is he getting enough sleep? Is he slouching in class all day? What are these kids adjusting to?

Michael is 12 and loves basketball. He’s a great kid, hard worker and very coachable. On the first day of basketball tryouts they have to run a mile and perform push-ups and sit-ups for one minute. Michael didn’t make it to day 2. He quit! This is a kid who loves basketball. Why would you seemingly do everything in your power to discourage a kid from enjoying something they love?

Maddie is 13. Her soccer coach tells her she needs to “get her feet moving.” But she received no help or coaching on HOW she should “get her feet moving.” Would that comment possibly have an impact on her self-confidence? At 13 Maddie is likely hitting a growth spurt that may make her foot work a tad awkward. She likely just needs an opportunity to work through this time. Shouldn’t the coach be aware of this?

Jon is 15 and plays football. He has been weight training for 2 years. Bench press, squats, dead lifts, hang-cleans. Jon owns the team record for freshmen in all those lifts. In shorts and a t-shirt Jon looks the part of an explosive young athlete. When Jon is asked to balance on his right foot and reach out and touch a cone with his left hand he can’t maintain his balance. His movers are very strong but his stabilizers have been neglected. Jon is impressive when standing in one spot lifting weights but he doesn’t move very well outside the weight room.

This is the culture that has been created over the past decade or so. It used to be kids played games. I’m not just talking sports but play in general. And when they did play sports they made their own rules and picked the teams themselves. They we forced to manage their egos get along and be creative. The games and leagues were created to serve them.

Now kids play organized sports year round. There is no “off-season.” Kids are scheduled “to death.” They are missing out on what used to come naturally. Now everything is organized and controlled. This new culture who is it really serving? Is it serving the kids or parents and coaches?

With this new culture are you paying attention to what’s happening? Is your kid happy? Are they getting anything accomplished?

Kids now train more than pro athletes! The pros have an off-season when they recover and recuperate from a long season. And those are fully developed men and women with highly trained professionals that manage their physical and nutritional needs.

Kids eat low quality food, don’t get enough sleep, and sit with poor posture in class all day. Then they get home and are rushed to games and practice the rest of the night. Where is the down time? When do they recover? What are their bodies adapting to?

Obesity is a sneeze! There is a bigger story at work here. Remember that 12 year old basketball player who loved the sport? Why did he quit? Who is coaching our kids and what are their objectives? Should it be results now or should the focus be on development?

If you think all obese kids are non-athletes you would be mistaken. Many obese children are in fact athletic but have had the enthusiasm for sport and play “coached” out of them.

Youth sport and fitness should be a process. Coaches and parents need to provide opportunities and environments that allow kids to teach themselves. This promotes freedom and creativity. That type of culture would be conducive to producing wonderful athletes but happy kids as well. When a kid is happy they dream big!

Kids love to play games. It’s time that kids are freed to have fun again!

Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist

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