Childhood Obesity & Parents’ Healthy Food Confusion
Many parents struggle to know which foods are healthy for their children. When they are able to opt for healthy choices, about two-thirds struggle to get their children to eat healthily, a poll of nearly 800 parents found. Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP), which commissioned the survey, said that parents need more support to tackle the growing problem of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 20 years, official figures show.
Recent studies suggest that parents do not know what good nutrition is. Perhaps advertising of fast foods, and busy life styles has contributed to this. Nutritional meals can be prepared quickly and simply at home.
Of the parents of children aged 15 years and younger questioned by the DPP, 45% said they found it difficult to work out which foods were healthy for their children. When parents did select healthy foods, 65% said they struggled to motivate their children to eat it. Three-quarters of parents blamed advertising and marketing of unhealthy snacks and drinks for making this job so difficult. Another 87% believed that schools should play a big role in teaching children how to be healthy.
When more than a thousand children aged seven to 16 were questioned about their lifestyles, 70% said they would be more likely to eat healthily and get active if their parents were doing it. Only 16% said they ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. This suggests that parents are not making healthy food choices themselves. There are strong links between obesity and ill health. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare lists the following increased risks of cancers in obese people:-
Cancer % Increase Risk Cancer %increase Risk
Prostate 23 Uterus 178
Leukaemia 43 Kidney 110
Bowel 53 Bowel 35
Liver 128 Liver 48
Gallbladder 76 Breast 71
Statistics such as these are a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight level. Children must be given every opportunity to have a healthy body. In order to get their family on track to a healthy lifestyle parents need to learn how to feed themselves and their family good nutrition.
A simple way to improve nutrition is to add raw fruit and vegetables to family diets. These are foods that have no preservatives or added color. They provide plenty of vitamins, mineral, antioxidants, fiber, water and trace elements. (All necessary for good nutrition.) They look appetizing and have high water content. They have a firm texture which means we need to chew them well. This aids the digestive system. The body quickly and easily processes them. This means less work for the digestive system.
They are natural, that is, not processed and pre-packaged with extra chemicals. They are pure energy – living foods. Look for different colored vegetables and fruits when you shop. Experiment with ones you have never tasted. Visit a market for more variety and fresher foods. Eat at least one from each group every day.
Red/Purple Group includes tomatoes, watermelon, berries, cherries, and grapes
Orange/Yellow includes carrots, sweet potato, squash, mangoes, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges, mandarins pineapples and many stone fruits
Yellow/green among this group are avocado, spinach, beans, peppers, corn, beans, broccoli, green leafy vegetables,
White/green some in this group asparagus, celery, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, pears
For more information read, “What Color is Your Food” by Dr D Heber.
Experiment with adding these to your daily diet. Of course a balanced diet must also include daily servings of dairy, whole grains and protein. Start with the simple idea of adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to the family’s daily food intake. This simple step will have fantastic and long lasting impact on your health.