By Kristen Houghton
The Crisis of Childhood Obesity
Your kids come home from a long day of school and they are starving! What can they have as snacks? What do you have in the house? Getting them to eat healthily is difficult. They want it fast and tasty.
In Europe, an afternoon snack is a must for children and adults, yet very few Europeans are obese. In Italy the traditional merenda, or snack, usually consists of fruit or juice, cheese or yogurt, and “a small cup” of hot chocolate or cold milk. All healthy, satisfying and nutritious.
But in America, in a nationwide survey of students from elementary through high school, the choices of after school snacks were vastly different in nutrients and caloric value.
Corn and potato chips, French fries, twizzler candy, soda, chocolate bars, “juice” drinks with ten percent juice and ninety percent high fructose corn syrup, and the various fast food fare, were high on their lists. Very few chose fruit or yogurt as a snack.
Fast food was easier, cheaper, and was available at stores along the way home. They “tasted” better. All of them, however, were heavily laden with fat and useless calories.
Dinners were not much better. Kids described meals with lots of starch for the main course ending with some type of rich dessert. No one in this survey mentioned salads, vegetables, or fish. Tired, overworked parents have unwittingly aided the “fat attack” that is claiming our children and it is hard to blame them. Making something easy and filling is much easier than spending extra time in the kitchen after working all day.
Later in the evening the junk food fest continued while kids were watching TV or on the computer with friends.
Childhood obesity in America has hit crisis level. More children than ever are now in the category of what doctors refer to as morbid obesity. Inactivity, unhealthy snacking, super-size portions; all lead to what has become a major health crisis for American kids, some as young as six years old.
Many overweight children don’t exercise because, due to their weight, they get easily tired from physical activity. Yet exercising is a necessity to weight loss and maintenance.
Parents need to take charge.
Help your child to live a healthy life through good eating habits and exercise. Introduce them to healthy snacks and insist on mild exercise, even fifteen minute walks will help. Do it together.
Be a role model by eating healthy foods yourself and doing some form of physical activity.
Introduce snacks such as fruit, yogurt, and nuts.
Plan dinners ahead of time so that preparing them doesn’t become another “job.”
Get your child involved in dinner preparation. Even a six year old can make a salad.
Don’t totally deny junk food but limit its consumption and absolutely no “supersizing.”
Give your child a chance to maintain a healthy weight for a healthy life.
Childhood obesity is a disease that is one hundred percent curable.
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