The United States is facing a crisis of childhood obesity. But how can we fight this epidemic? Watch this video to learn about how children grow in middle childhood and how fitness and nutrition can help with the problem of obesity.
Drew is a happy 10-year-old boy with a younger sister, Trudi, who is eight. They love to play and watch cartoons together. And they generally get along well. But lately, there's a problem. While Trudi loves to run and play outside, Drew is more and more comfortable inside, with a book, television show, or video game in front of him. As a result, Drew has put on some weight, which just makes it uncomfortable for him to run around after Trudi.
Drew and Trudi are both in middle childhood, or the period of life between ages 7 and 12. And like many children in middle childhood, they both face issues about health and wellness. Let's look closer at two important components of health in middle childhood: exercise and nutrition.
As we saw, Drew is finding it harder and harder to move around. But his sister Trudi is experiencing the opposite. She loves running and jumping and climbing. Partly, this is made possible by the physical developments happening with her body. Kids in middle childhood grow taller. Most of that growth is in the lower body, which leads to children at that age looking like they have unusually long legs.
The development of the lower body makes children better at running and jumping and activities like that. Trudi enjoys being active outside because her longer legs make her better at it than she was when she was younger. In addition to lower body growth, kids in middle childhood see advancements in fine motor skills, which involve small movements, often with extremities, like hands and fingers. For example, threading a needle or playing piano both involve fine motor skills.
Lower body growth and improvements of fine motor skills, as well as social norms, mean that many children participate in sports at this age. Trudi, for example, is involved in soccer and ballet classes. Sports offer both fitness and social benefits, such as learning teamwork and how to interact with many different people.
But what about Drew? He's gaining weight as he becomes less and less active. Sadly, Drew is not unusual. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, and movement is a key component in the battle against weight problems. Like Drew, though, many children find that as they gain weight, movement becomes harder and harder, which makes them less willing to exercise. This leads to more weight gain and less willingness to move. It becomes a vicious cycle.
If movement is one key component in the battle against obesity and other weight issues, the other one is nutrition. No matter how much she moves around, if Trudi is eating too many calories, she will gain weight. Proper, balanced nutrition helps children grow and develop physically and intellectually. In fact, studies have shown that students who eat a healthy, well-balanced breakfast do better in school than those who do not. And that's just breakfast!
Parents can help their children develop into the people they are meant to be by providing them with a varied diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, good fats, and whole grains. To help guide parents and get children involved in nutrition, the U.S. government website MyPlate.gov includes a special section for kid's nutrition, complete with games and activities for children to learn more.
Trudi and Drew's parents know how important nutrition is for growth and learning. And they are concerned that Drew has gained weight. They think that perhaps they should put him on a diet, but aren't sure. The best move for them to make is to make sure Drew's food is healthy and not processed. Crash diets can deprive children of important nutrients, which can slow growth and lead to all sorts of health problems. As long as Drew is eating healthy, non-junk food and moving every day, he will lose weight.
Middle childhood is the period of time between ages 7 and 12. During this time period, children experience many physical changes that can lead to health issues. To be healthy, children should move every day and eat healthy, nutritious food.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to discuss the importance of nutrition and exercise during middle childhood.