A 3-pound teddy bear is supposed to help kids lose weight?
You have GOT to be kidding me! Now I think I've heard it all!
This CBS News story cites a research study that found young overweight and obese children who play with toys that weigh heavier than normal helps contribute to more calories burned and gives them extra exercise they wouldn't ordinarily experience.
Professor Ozmun says weighted toys can be a "positive contribution"
Lead researcher John C. Ozmun, acting associate dean of the College of Health and Human Performance and professor of Physical Education at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, observed 10 children between the ages of 6-8 years old to see what effect adding more weight to their toys would have on their health.
For the study, Ozmun replaced the normal, everyday block toys that are usually lighter in weight with ones that looked the same, but weighed 3-pounds for each block instead. What he and his graduate student researcher found was the children playing with the heavier blocks experienced a more rapid heartbeat and breathed deeper than they did with the lighter toys.
Can I interject some common sense into this for just a moment. I'm all for trying to help kids who are dealing with excess weight a way to shed the pounds, but has anybody thought about how dangerous a 3-pound block would be with a group of children who may have the propensity for throwing their toys? Besides hitting another child with one of these "weighted" toys, what about when it hits a window and the glass shatters near other children? Then how bright an idea would this be?
Ozmun admits "this is not going to solve the obesity problem," but he believe "it has a potential to make a positive contribution."
Perhaps. But the unintended negative consequences from weighing down toys to make them heavier may far outweight any health benefits that would come from kids playing with them. Plus, kids can burn a lot more calories during cardiovascular exercise they would get running around on the playground during P.E. or recess (that is, if they haven't abandoned this yet in your local public school!). Making toys heavier accomplishes very little towards fighting obesity IMHO!
If childhood obesity is the BIG problem that everyone agrees that it is based on the statistics (one-third of American kids are overweight and 17 percent are obese), then what can we do to help with that without causing potential harm to children?
Restricting advertisements on junk food is NOT the answer and neither is creating a children's version of the Food Pyramid!
No, what we need is to take a serious look at what is causing all of this weight gain in children to begin with: sugary sodas, candy, snack cakes, cookies, crackers, juice, fast food, and a million other high-carb food products their little bodies couldn't possibly burn off fast enough! For overweight or obese children, perhaps a long hard look at livin' la vida low-carb is not such a bad idea.
Most disheartening is the seeming lack of concern by our government. A recent children's health report compiled by 20 different government agencies completely ignored childhood obesity as a threat to the health of American children. WAKE UP PEOPLE! Are we just expecting this problem to go away on its own?
Parents: STOP feeding your kids junk!
Teachers: DEMAND physical education remain a requirement!
Doctors: ADVISE young patients responsibly on good health!
Citizens: URGE nutritional education in schools!
Children: EXPECT more from those who lead you!
Ozmun said his study with the heavier toys is simply the beginning and that more studies would be needed to see if kids would keep playing with these toys or not over the long term. Even still, he is pushing for 3-pound stuffed animals to be required for physical therapy involving children.
"Having a 3-pound teddy bear may not only help with strength, but with balance and coordination," Ozmun said.
I still think that's way too dangerous to do to children. With all these warnings placed on children's toys these days, can you see the ones they put on these weighted teddy bears? "WARNING: This chunky-sized teddy may break bones, causing deep bruising, or even death if thrown at another child or near glass. DON'T DO IT!" I wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of wording to that effect once the lawyers of the toy company that ends up making these sees the potential problems that will arise.
When I first heard about this story, I thought the teddy bears were going to LITERALLY be larger so the overweight and obese children will have a toy they can relate to. But that is an entirely different discussion that may merit some debate in a future blog post (feel free to share your comments about the psychological issues arising out of an "understanding" stuffed animal that is fatter than normal by clicking on the comment link below).
Send an e-mail to John Ozmun about his study at firstname.lastname@example.org.