Screen Time and Obesity
As an overweight child, I experienced living in the shadows—the shadows of my “friends” choosing sides on the playground for basketball games, and never picking me. The shadows behind the opened gym locker doors where girls would snicker and boys would make rude comments. The shadow side of myself—never allowing my light to shine—who would want to call attention to this mass of flesh? The emotional pain of being the “fat girl” far outweighed my physical limitations.
But by high school I had grown tall, lost baby fat and played on the girls basketball team fairly proficiently. The boys still make rude comments about my body—but now they were of a different nature. I was at a normal weight, feeling energetic and healthy. For a while at least.
Adulthood brought back the battle of the bulge. And ushered in a depth of physical pain and discomfort I am not sure how I got through as I look back on those years. Two decades of serious illnesses followed the birth of my sons. Healing took lots of focused attention, competing for time with my precious boys, and of course healing and recovery time with alternative therapies because traditional methods weren’t working—what was wrong with me? A lot. Gallbladder problems—it had to be removed. Liver problems; poor digestion; insulin resistance. Childhood obesity does increase the risk for adult health problems. I know this first-hand.
My mother showed she loved her kids by feeding them too many Polish and Italian rich foods; too many desserts. But we always played for hours outside—by day walking in the woods collecting leaves, twigs, flowers to make things with; by evening running wildly catching fireflies in the summer or playing tag after dinner on school nights. We went outside, rain or shine, no matter how cold or hot, there was always some time moving in the backyard even if was only five minutes to throw dry bread to sparrows looking for food in the five feet of an unexpected spring snowstorm. I am so thankful now that exercise was in my childhood equation. As an adult, I don’t loathe physical movement like many of my friends do. I look forward to it. It’s what saved me.
Through my own tenacity and the good fortune to find the appropriate health care providers I am now blessed with great health. Although I will never be a size 8, I can at least walk/jog two-three miles daily, lift weights, do Yoga and Pilates and go on the occasional five-mile hike. I can even bend down and touch my toes, something some kindergartners can’t even do.
That’s right. I was shocked when a colleague recently told me that 22 of her 27 kindergartners could not touch their toes. Imagine little five year-old bodies struggling and failing to do this simple act. Tragic.
Copyright © Gloria DeGaetano, 2009. All rights reserved. No reprinting rights granted without the author’s permission.
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