So How Fat are your Kids?

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child dietLast week I was in line at the grocery store and the woman in front of me had a cart totally overflowing with food. She was in her mid-thirties and she had a couple of kids that appeared to be near 8 and 12 years old.

While the mother was lean and attractive, the kids were quite the opposite. I don’t want to be mean or rude but they were simply obese. Being nosy, I scanned the woman’s shopping cart and I was quickly astounded. She had 3 different types of sugary breakfast cereal, a box of Hostess Cupcakes, a box of Ding Dongs, drink boxes, 2 different types of Popsicles, etc.

As she paid for her groceries, which I concluded contained zero fruit, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of lives these kids would lead. Not only did their mother disregard any notion of childhood health, her kids were obese, completely hooked on sugar, and most likely getting the third degree on a daily basis from the kids at school.

I think the lesson is obvious here. As much of America hears and debates stories of childhood obesity, it is up to the parents to install healthy eating habits in their children at an early age. The simplest way is to stop providing kids with the ammunition (in the form of terrible food) that allows them to become overweight. In fact the opposite must occur and to use my wife’s behavior as an example, your house should be overflowing with fruit and healthy snacks. Unhealthy foods should be hidden and used sparingly so they cannot be consumed whenever the hunger strikes.

Simply put, if you open the fridge or pantry and see treats anywhere near a child’s eye level, you may want to rearrange things a little and reconsider your purchase decisions during your next trip to the store. Additionally, you could also consider adding some physical activity to the kids’ routine.

Need a few reasons?

  • Kids who exercise are more likely to keep exercising as an adult.
  • Exercise helps kids achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Regular physical activity helps build and maintain strong, healthy muscles, bones and joints.
  • Exercise aids in the development of important interpersonal skills—this is especially true for participation in team sports.
  • Exercise improves the quantity and quality of sleep.
  • Research shows that exercise promotes improved school attendance and enhances academic performance.
  • Kids who exercise have greater self-esteem and better self-images.
  • Participating in regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of many chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension) and promotes health.
  • Children who are active report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and a better overall mood.
  • Exercise helps improve motor coordination and enhances the development of various motor performance skills.

Don’t be the parent feeding your chubby kids burgers at the mall and don’t maintain a sugar sanctuary at home. Regardless of their age, start instilling some basic nutrition ideas into your kids. As they grow older, you will not be able to watch them 100% of the time and eating decisions will ultimately be theirs. Without at least SOME previous guidance, they’ll be choosing triple cheeseburgers and milkshakes every time they have a chance.

-Mark

Exercise tips courtesy of the American Council on Exercise.

Other resources:
Keepkidshealthy.com
Kids and Teens section at Diet-Blog
Healthy Kids section at That’s Fit

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