One of my friends posted a neat picture of their seven year old on Facebook recently. Jackson had quite the six-pack of Abs going on. Actually, I think he had an eight-pack.
This was obviously the product of good genes, a super-fast metabolism, and lots of activities (he does baseball and gymnastics). While he does eat some junk food now and then, his mom told me that they control it.
His extremely "ripped" condition is also extremely unusual. But it didn't always used to be that way. Think back a generation or two. I'll bet you'll recall that many of the kids were "ripped." It was so normal that we didn't even think of it as "ripped."
Kids were so active that almost everyone was lean. Back then, it was pretty unusual for a child to be significantly overweight. Sure, some kids might have had more muscle than others, but you could usually see their ribs, and their Abs, too.
So what's changed? Many experts believe it has something to do with all the processed foods and artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. There is some evidence to support that. We certainly eat much more fast food and junk food than we did in earlier generations.
Declining activity levels have a lot to do with it too. Games on iPods have taken the place of games outside. If a child isn't in organized sports or an individual activity like martial arts or gymnastics, the problem can be even greater.
So how do we counter this? We have to take personal responsibility. A parent has to take control of their children's diet and exercise every day. It also helps if they're doing it themselves.
Jackson's parents are both active in sports and working out, and they're very involved in health and nutrition. So they have a whole household of active people who are also watching what they eat.
But kids aren't always going to be interested, or even able to excel at sports. Perhaps they're already overweight, which will make every kind of activity harder. It will likely also affect their self-esteem. Parents can still make a difference if they'll just help their kids get started.
They can put them in individual activities like martial arts or swimming. They can also start them out by going on walks together, or even taking them to the gym. Parents can also take advantage of kids bootcamps, summer programs, or whatever else you can do to get them moving.
Some people who've taken personal responsibility this week include our Biggest Losers. Bailey Bradley won first place, losing 3.0 lbs and 2.2% of her body weight. Christy Henry was second, losing 3.8 lbs and 2.0%. Brian Bradley placed third, losing 4.0 lbs and 1.8%. Cheryl Funkhouser finished fourth, losing 2.0 lbs and 1.3%, and Sarah Mitchell was fifth, losing 1.4 lbs and 1.1%.