Why the breakdown of Christian communities has lead to a childhood obesity epidemic
The church steeple still sits high above the neighborhoods’ that it once served. The church is still there, but is the neighborhoods? In so many neighborhoods, the sounds of children enjoying a summer day are drowned out by the sounds of gunfire and decay. Moreover, the disappearing neighborhoods have been one of the catalysts for a number of social ills, including childhood obesity. It all starts with the community
Childhood obesity begins at the doorstep of broken communities; broken homes. The church, once the anchor of the community, now only feeds a portion of the neighborhood. The communities have, over time, crumbled under the weight of a broken economy and a lack of belief. In some cases, the church is no longer viewed as the moral high ground, but is often viewed as just another business is the community. Said one community leader:
“At a time when there is so much going on and wrong in our communities, people are not running swiftly to the church. The reason is irrelevant; the meaning is quite evident.”
The economy has provided plenty of abandoned homes, and the prison system has filled other houses with sex offender registrants. It is a deterrent to kids having fun in the neighborhood.
One parent has stated that this social and spiritual dynamic has lead to “fewer parents allowing their children to play all by themselves or visit friends.” Access is the key, and abandoned homes provide a residence for crime. Because the neighborhoods are no longer safe havens, parents are forced to activate other means for entertainment and exercise for their children. Kids now get both from video games.
The graphics are astounding, and the internet allows young people to interface and interact with children all over the globe. These video games can be fun, educational, and provide hours of entertainment. But few of them provide the daily amount of exercise that kids need.
Baseball diamonds are empty! There is no “hopscotch board” written with chalk on the sidewalk. Show a marble to a young person, and most them won’t have a clue what it is. One parent remarked that children are now more “sedentary than senior citizens. They sit still for hours, playing game after game after game. This is not a knock on video games. Games can be fun and entertaining, but cannot be a replacement for exercise.
Metabolism slows and every meal or drink takes on an even more heightened sense of importance. All of which leads to obesity.
While our children are faced with a multitude of “unhealthy” food options, it (the food) is not the only reason that children are obese.
Fact is, they do not get the amount of exercise that is necessary to fight off obesity. The lack of exercise, coupled with an (sometimes) undisciplined diet, leads to the epidemic we have today. The snowball grows as children who struggle with this challenge become more of a recluse. They shy away from social interaction, and typically drown their sorrows in food and beverage.
The “challenge” does not discriminate. It does not care if the child is well to do, from a two parent home, or believes in God. The obesity umbrella is big enough to encompass all children, and will, unless something changes.
The Chief Cornerstone
The end of childhood obesity begins with the Christian family. The obesity challenge must be met by parents and families that raise children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The Cornerstone of the home and community must be Christ. As families come to Christ, the communities that they live in will become more Christ centered as well. The hope here is that families will come together, create more safe havens for children, and create more opportunities for children to experience the joy of running around a backyard, playing “hide and go seek,” and “running” to good health.
Let us all revive our spirits, for the sake of our babies.