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It is very apparent that adolescent obesity has become a rather large issue in the United States over the last few years. However, most people are unaware that Arizona itself is one of the leading states of chunky children.

It is unsettling, but not uncommon to see a youngster that is already struggling and waddling around due to their extra baggage. Most of us have noticed these changes in the youth’s weight gain, but unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to it that it is now often overlooked and downright ignored.

Which raises the question, who is really to blame for these growing guts? The adults, who are responsible for teaching children the proper balance of nutrition and exercise? Or the kids, who are after all, just kids?

First of all, kids do not play the way they did back when I was little (which really was not that long ago). Instead of riding bikes or running in circles around the block, children are planting themselves like zombies in front of the television and playing video games without interruption until dinnertime.

Many would choose to watch their favorite TV show in the comfort of their living room rather than going to play outside. While of course this is a choice made by the child, parents are not forcing them to get the adequate amount of exercise. They continue to buy their child mind-numbing and belly-building video games, allowing them to become the ultimate couch potatoes. Parents need to make sure that their children are learning the importance of exercise at a young age so that they do not carry this harmful and lazy habit into adulthood.

Food is obviously a huge part of the problem. Ever hear the saying, you are what you eat? Well, figuratively speaking, it is true.

Children pack themselves to the brim with all the delicious but deceitful treats that we all know and love. It is no surprise that they are putting on the pounds.

While schools have tried to cut back on the junk food, kids are still getting their hands on the grub any way they can. But who can really blame them? That is good stuff. And the majority of the time the goodies are packed in their lunches by a parent. Lunchtime is not the only meal that these heavyweights’ parents have sabotaged. Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, often consists of either a sugary bowl of cereal or some sort of Pop-Tart concoction. Dinner is not much better. When parents actually have time to make a meal, and do not stop for McDonalds on the way home, the portion that the child receives is that of a grown up. When a kid is becoming noticeably obese, it is the responsibility of the parent to hold a food intervention. Regrettably, many do not.

Usually when you see a plump child, the parents are not exactly in shape to run a marathon. In fact, they are most likely pretty heavyset themselves. They were not properly introduced to the food pyramid or the treadmill. Because they do not maintain a healthy lifestyle, many do not encourage their children to do so.

This is unfair to the youth and creates an endless cycle of obesity. Until parents can set a positive example for their children, kids will continue to grow out rather then up.

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