Mary L. Gavin (2018) remarks that preventing kids from becoming overweight means making choices in the way your family eats and exercises, and how you spend time together. Helping kids lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example.
There are more and more women getting incorporated into the world of work. Lifestyle has become very hectic for both men and women, not being able to reach out everywhere. As a result, parents do not spend enough quality time with their children. A lack of attention and awareness can affect a child´s cognitive performance, as well as mental and emotional health.
The obesity pandemic
Obesity is a primary concern for parents and nutritionists. Even if a child is not obese, extra pounds are a matter of concern. It can lead to further problems of greater risk like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleeping problems, etc.
It can also give rise to emotional imbalance leading to low self-esteem, rejection from peers, bully, etc. Several factors can contribute to an excess of weight in children. There are chances that another family member is going through the same situation. Additionally, eating habits, lack of activity, stress, or a combination of them can be significant causes.
Parents have inevitably started to rely more on fast food as a shortage of time to cook and prepare meals. Fast foods are affordable options to feed families, making them attractive enough for parents.
“While most fast-food restaurants do have healthier kids’ meal drinks and sides available, many do little to make parents aware of the healthier options or to encourage parents to choose the healthier options instead of unhealthy ones,” said Jennifer Harris, lead author of the report and associate professor of allied health sciences.
We often hear, "the family who eats together stays together". This expression does not limit to eating altogether on the same table. Eating together means enjoying the moment with no rush and no external distraction such as television.
The problems affecting families
The major problems found nowadays in families are:
- Eating outside: Fast food restaurants serve food in bigger portions and contain a lot of additives that can cause a negative impact on the child´s growth, as well as emotional and mental health. An example is the lack of concentration at school. They also fall behind in important nutrients a growing child requires.
To do and not to do lists
Step by step it can all start, at first by:
- 1) Sitting down with the children and talking about a balanced diet and it´s importance. Omega 3 will play a key role for their lack of concentration at school. The Food Pyramid can be a great visual support . It will also help them purchase healthy food when they are at school.
- 2) Involving kids in preparing a list of fruits and vegetables adored by them, preparing then home cooked food, combined with healthy proteins and whole-grains. It´s a good idea to offer a brand new food along with their favourite, encouraging them to try a new bite and flavour.
- 3) Organizing a weekly mean plan together, as well as taking them for grocery shopping. Taking children for shopping gives them an opportunity to know the big and wide selection of foods, and understand their importance.
Parents are the best example and support for a positive learning and development of the child. Children need their parents time and attention for a healthy growth and feeling of security. They do not have the capacity to judge what is wrong and what is right, and require the support and hand of an elder. A simple praise can cheer them up and boost their confidence.
We can conclude children require more time from their parents, getting inserted healthy habits and routines slowly; making them aware of why it has been put in place and how important it is for their development, health and mindset.
- Nemours KidsHealth, 2018. Overweight and Obesity [online]. Available at https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/overweight-obesity.html [Accessed 25 March 2021].
- UConn Today, 2018. More kids are eating fast food - and not the healthy options [online]. Available at https://today.uconn.edu/2018/09/kids-eating-fast-food-not-healthy-options/# [Accessed 25 March 2021].
Written by Mónica Ailani,
Content Writer & Translator
Scientifically proven Trainer