BLOG 145 CHILDREN & NUTRITION
Is it strange to see a child reading a nutrition label?? Is that not something a kid should be doing….worrying about their weight, concerned about calories, watching how much sugar there is in an item?? In a sense, we want kids to be kids, but we also want them to be healthy, happy, and do well. As childhood obesity rises, we know that changes need to be made to address the problem. Innocence isn’t lost with nutrition education and food doesn’t have to serve as reward for our youth. Let’s talk about children and nutrition.
It’s never too early to learn the basics of foods. We all grew up going to the store with mom or dad and walking down the aisles. We would reach for what we wanted and beg for those treats, sometimes making store time a real battle for our parents. Fruits and vegetables aren’t children’s favorite food selections, sometimes making the be forced. They’re not the after school snack of choice. This is due largely in part to the 5,500 advertisements kids see about junk food versus the 100 they might see regarding fruits and vegetables (“The Kids Menu” (2015) by Kurt Engfehr) featured on Netflix.
If you ask a child if they know anyone who is obese in their family, almost everyone would raise their hand that they do. If one parent is obese, that child is 40% more likely to be obese too. That goes to say that if both parents are obese, then there is an 80% chance. It is said that parents are 72% responsible for what their children eat, of course the rest of the time is when kids are at school or not with them. Fast food is also a reality with the demands of parenting, but it becomes important to make healthier selections and teaching children to do so. (“The Kids Menu” (2015) by Kurt Engfehr)
I grew up on fast food. That was what 2 full time working parents with 3 kids and sports year-round resulted in. I was active and that deterred a lot of what I was eating. But to be completely honest, my parents were role models of healthier choices. When we went to McDonalds, dad ordered a salad or grilled chicken sandwich and an iced tea. Mom did the same. We could order whatever we wanted, but you do what your parents do. Just this Christmas, I was saying to my dad while everyone was eating that I never had prime rib before because you never made that. We had chicken and salmon.
Where my mixed messages came from were the athletes and TV that I watched. I saw my favorite sports stars drinking Gatorade, so naturally I wanted that too for every practice. I was oblivious to the sugar content and definitely didn’t need the excess calories. Processed food is attractive with it’s decorative packaging.
So all in all, the issue with children and nutrition comes down to 3 key points. The first being their lack of knowledge. If children knew the benefits of whole foods, fruit and vegetables versus their bodies’ responses to cereals, granola bars and sugar filled drinks, maybe they might make a better-informed decision. Second, children need to have access to a good diet. This means what they are fed at home and school. The pantry shouldn’t be filled with boxes of food and school lunches can have a daily salad bar. And lastly, children need role models of health. What they see is what they do. We are products of our environment.
Obesity isn’t the entire issue, it’s also the resulting diseases from it. I hope that I can lead children by example and lead my clients by example who can then pass this on. It’s a community effort and requires leadership in health and wellness. When we better ourselves, we can better others, and you never know who is watching. So be a leader on your fitness journey and be the difference in someone’s life to see and feel the results of a healthy mind and BODY.