In the April issue of Vogue magazine there was an article written by Dara-Lynn Weiss about how she got her 7-year-old to lose weight. In a nutshell, it was cruel. She would publicly humiliate the child and degrade her for the terrible eating habits she had acquired. The Vogue article (not online) also focuses on the struggles faced by parents of obese children. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a lot —approximately 17 % of kids ages 2-19 are obese. This 17%, they are at 70% risk for cardiovascular disease. Diabetes. Bone and joint problems. Cancer. Asthma. (CDC obesity facts)
That is just disgusting to me. How does a mother allow her 2-year-old to become obese? Up until the age of 5 the parent has almost absolute control over their child’s dietary habits. WE buy and make the food. WE feed them. So how do they get so big? Mmm. Bolded a few sentences ago. We ALLOW it.
But you don’t have to. Here’s how to start raising healthy kids. This needs to stop.
At the Get-Go
You are the authority! From the time the kids are born, you show them how to lead their lives. Good nutrition should go hand in hand with manners, rules, religion. Babies don’t need to be fed all day, so don’t. Toddlers don’t need to carry a juice and snack everywhere. And no kid needs dessert 7 night a week.
How many families really sit down for supper, at the table, by or before 6pm every night? Eating together has so many benefits. When you participate in conversation you eat slower, allowing you to fill up instead of over-fill. When you eat at a decent hour, there is still time for a desert now and then, but it’s not necessary, as if you were to eat earlier. Eating later causes your food to just sit, because most of us aren’t active that late. It also promotes over-eating because the kids are hungrier at 7:30 than 5:30.
*I have to note that what you’re eating makes a HUGE difference too! Don’t cook out of a box or order in more than once a week! It’s expensive and soooo not good for you or the kids.
What does the after school/weekend snack cupboard look like? Stuffed full of chips, cookies, Twinkies, etc? Or is it a fruit bowl, carrots and sugar peas, cheese, peanut butter, and crackers? Kids are always hungry after school. If there is nothing gross for them to snack on they will eat fruits and veggies and healthy snacks.
*In moderation, junk food is not going to make your kid overweight. Get it for them every now and then. But still, pay attention! Don’t let your kid sit down with the whole bag of chips and container of dip. It will be gone. They are just kids…
Getting Them Active
There is no quicker way to get ’em off the couch than taking away sedentary activities. Limit their TV and game time. Don’t allow them to hide in their rooms on their phones and laptops. If it’s “too hard” to control, take the damn things away. They will learn real quick that it’s more fun to shoot hoops and bike ride than sit around and sulk. Mom and Dad, you can participate by taking evening walks with them, family bike rides, and trips to the park. Coordinate a kick-ball game or some street hockey. But don’t sit on your butt while telling them to get off theirs.
In the 60’s, there was a 5% child hood obesity rate. In the 80’s it jumped to 6.5%. By 2009 that rate shot to 19.6% of kids. (obesity rates according to Livestrong.com) But look at the cultural differences between decades.
In the 60’s, most households sat down for dinner together every night. A home cooked family meal. Kids ran around outside from morning to dark. There was next to nothing for TV and video games. No all day cartoon channels, Xboxes and PS3’s.
In the 80’s, parents started to become almost obsessive about kids playing outside. Thought they weren’t safe. The cartoon channel came out, along with the Nintendo and Sega. Moms started working more and cooking less.
Anymore, kids have all their entertainment in their rooms. They eat when they want, and usually something micro’d or popped in the oven. Both parents work, or there may only be one. We excuse ourselves because of the time we don’t have and the demands of our jobs.
Have we lost the reality that we are the parents?? We are responsible for raising the future. And their health is just as important to the longevity of society as their brains. A sick person isn’t much good at all, being unable to work, costing the community money, unable to be useful members of society. I don’t think any one of us has the goal of raising an unhealthy, lazy, inactive person…
Where do you stand on this? Should society and doctors be more focused on “fixing” the problem or preventing it through education and programs for parents? Tell us in the comments!