Pin Me

Ask the Expert: A Personal Trainer Discusses Childhood Obesity

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 3/28/2009

Learn what a personal trainer has to say about the causes of childhood obesity and how to treat and prevent the disease.

  • slide 1 of 2

    About the Expert

    Clayton Webber is a personal trainer and owner of Australian based company The Fit Dimension. His company offers personal training services and boasts a fitness studio featuring a gym and kickboxing studio. He also writes a popular personal training and fitness blog, which offers sound and useful weight loss and exercise advice.

  • slide 2 of 2

    Interview with the Expert

    Bright Hub: An estimated 15% of kids are overweight, while another 20% are at risk for obesity. In your opinion, why are so many kids overweight these days?

    Clayton Webber: The 2 biggest offenders would have to be lack of exercise (activity) and poor nutritional choices. Having said that though, it's difficult to point the finger solely at the kids involved. Rather, question the example being set by those around them and other outside influences.

    Bright Hub: Experts estimate that two thirds of overweight children will become obese adults. What do you suggest parents do to help their overweight kids avoid carrying the extra weight into adulthood?

    Clayton Webber: The most important thing is for the parents to take ownership of the situation and lead by example. What chance do kids have when their parents can't act on the very advice they are giving their kids? For some it's a matter of being educated in better food choices. Unfortunately, we are saturated with advertising and too much bad information that tends to hinder this very process. Above all though there has to be more accountability in the family home. And don’t just accept it as a modern day epidemic that can't be resolved. It can be.

    Bright Hub: Prevention seems to be the best bet. What else would you tell parents to help prevent their children from becoming overweight or obese?

    Clayton Webber: It must start at home and there must be some accountability from parents. If they are overweight themselves they need to do whatever it takes to reverse that situation, not make excuses and let kids be ridiculed because they couldn't find the time away from watching hours of TV to help those they (should) love most. There really are no excuses.

    Bright Hub: What kinds of exercise do you recommend for overweight kids?

    Clayton Webber: Anything that gets them moving. Everyone is different, and kids in particular need something that interests and is appropriate for them to try so they don't feel embarrassed or get bored easily if they are starting up an exercise program for the first time. Rather than just confine them to a gym type environment, get them outside and moving and enjoying themselves.

    Bright Hub: Should overweight kids go on diets?

    Clayton Webber: Maybe. No one should really go on a "diet", a better way to look at it is to focus on eating natural food choices, ones that are as close to their natural state as possible, eg. fruits and vegetables. It would be hard to tell all kids to not eat a certain food ever again, so instead start replacing some of the food with better choices. Then, start educating them on why the food they have been eating has resulted in them being overweight or obese. Show them that there are better alternatives. It's also crucial that they are involved in this process, not just commanded to do this or that.

    Bright Hub: Kids who are overweight or obese often have low self esteem. Do you think a good exercise program can help to boost a child’s self esteem?

    Clayton Webber: Absolutely yes. As long as it's carried out by the right people and in the right spirit where there is plenty of fun and encouragement. Kids who are overweight can be fairly fragile so that must be a priority.

    Bright Hub: Any final words of wisdom on the subject?

    Clayton Webber: Kids, just like adults, have unlimited capacity to change anything in their life given the chance. You can either choose one or the other. If you choose to do nothing, you have still made a choice. Choose to be healthy and do whatever it takes to find someone you trust who has had success in this same area and keep going until you find what works for you.