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Children and Obesity – Today’s Parents Have Longer Life Expectancy Than Their Children
Today’s generation is the first generation in US history not expected to outlive their parents. The main reason: obesity. Doctors are concerned about childhood obesity because it can lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea. Unfortunately, social isolation and discrimination can also result for the obese child. Although obesity can be linked to one’s genetic makeup, there are important behaviors within our control that can reduce the likelihood of excessive weight gain. So what can parents do to protect their children from the dangers of childhood obesity?
Limit passive TV, internet and video game entertainment. What is the magic number? Two hours a day or less.
You rarely give your children sugary sweets or high-fat treats. You should never allow your children to eat sweets or sugary drinks on a daily basis. Our kids only get sugary treats, maybe once a week or twice a month. And, as a result, they don’t crave them or chase us for them. Healthy snacks include bananas, carrots, figs, grapes and other fruits. Fruit juices also contain a lot of sugar. Mix water with about 1/6 of organic fruit juice. This will keep your kids hydrated, keep the calories down, and give them some flavor and vitamin C. Of course, it’s even better if you can juice the fruit yourself.
Make them move! It doesn’t necessarily have to involve expensive fitness classes, structured swimming lessons, or an overly scheduled lifestyle. Do you remember when you were a kid? Most of us spent a large part of our childhood entertaining ourselves by running around the neighborhood playing games. We didn’t think about the exercise – we just did it. Chase your kids around the yard or go for an evening stroll with the family. Just make sure they move their bodies every day.
Eat at home. An important reason to eat at home that many people may overlook is the fact that you can control the cleanliness of your food. A friend of mine who worked at a four star restaurant went to work one day with the flu. When I asked him why he would go and handle food, he said he wouldn’t get paid and could even get fired for missing a busy weekend shift. But when it comes to obesity, portion control is the main reason to eat at home. Today’s dish in the average American restaurant was yesterday’s dish that fed an entire family.
Hide the vegetables. With kids, especially picky toddlers and preschoolers, you can sneak vegetables into their diet by making eating fun. For example, you can make a salad in a cartoon-like face or a plate of whole-wheat pancakes in a clown face with strategically placed berries. Also, make a list of their favorite dishes and think of creative ways to make them healthier.
With collective education and effort, we can reverse the dire prediction about the longevity of the youngest among us and help them become the healthiest generation that has ever lived. It is up to us to protect our children.
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