This study followed about 80 obese children and found out that (surprise) they grew up to be obese adults.
Of course this study doesn't mean these children will have no choice in the matter later on should they be obese in childhood, it simply means the likelihood of being obese later in life is increased. As adults we are all responsible for our own health, but as parents you are in charge of your child's diet and lifestyle.
So, as parents, it is your duty to clear your mind of all the ads for sugary cereal and "fun" places for kids to eat, and rememeber that your job is to raise a healthy, capable adult human who can then in turn raise your grand-children properly. Here are a few thoughts that are important in this process:
- Buy Real Food - As the grown-up in the house you buy the groceries, so stop buying the junk! If it's not in the cabinets or in the frig, they will not be able to eat it any longer. You shouldn't be cruel and make every needed change over night, but starting today, gradual, continuous changes need to be made. When a child grows up eating raw fruits, veggies, berries and lean cuts of healthy chicken, turkey and fish, they think this is how you are suppossed to do it, and that's how they do it as a grown up. If a daily trip (or two) to Mc-Wendy-King's is part of their childhood, they won't be able to picture an adult-hood without it. If the cabinets and fridge are filled with good choices, it is not cruel of you to allow your kids to skip a meal or two in protest, or for them to actually feel some real hunger-pangs. When they get truly hungry, they will gobble up all the tasty, healthy food you have made available. A good rule of thumb: If you see it advertised on TV, it's probably not real food.
- Set a Good Example - As the parent, you are setting the example for the next generation, your children. I see folks in the office all the time who think they have bad "genetics", who in reality just learned to eat like their parents, who made bad choices regularly. These patterns and habits have become so hard-wired into their brain they can't even imagine a healthy junk-free lifestyle as a possible reality.
- Train the Elephant While He is Young - The fable goes, when a baby elephant begins life with the circus, he is tied to a stake in the ground with a regular-sized piece of rope. Try as he might, he cannot break this rope and thus "learns" that it is too strong to break. When he is grown, he still "know"s he can not break this rope and doesn't even try. If a grown elephant not raised in this manner where tied with this same rope, he would snap it effortlessly and walk away. The diet and lifestyle examples you set during the toddler and childhood years are hard-wired into your child's brain and will become part of their adult life. Remember, they are watching you all the time, even when you think they are not.
- Food is fuel, not entertainment - There is nothing wrong with an occasional piece of Birthday Cake or a rare visit to Mc-Wendy-King's, but these should be rare treats, not daily (or even weekly) expectations. Television and Magazine ads attempt to indoctrinate your children to want these things all the time for one reason, to make money. The huge corporations are not interested in raising healthy children, they are interested in raising their quarterly profits. Minimize the number of ads your children see when possible and explain to them why theses huge companies make such commercials. Kids catch on quickly to the idea of commercials being a trick. Abby Grace (under 10 years old as of this writing) was intrigued by the idea that the Clown on TV was an actor and trying to "trick" her into wanting more pseudo-chicken nuggets. Recently, after watching a commercial portraying a lucky little green fellow adding yet another color of marsh-mellow to an already sugar-coma cereal she said, "They'r just tryin' to make more money, aren't they Daddy?"
- Live the Lifestyle - If you turn off the TV and actually appear to enjoy going outside and playing with your kids, they will think this behavior is normal. There's nothing wrong with watching the occasional show with your kids, but TV should not define your life or your lifestyle. In order to think that being a healthy, active adult is normal, they need to actually see you living that lifestyle. Preaching it but not living it will not work.
- Give Them a Multi-Vitamin - Get your children used to the idea of taking a supplement when they are young. I see little evidence of the American diet changing much in the next couple of decades, so they will have to take supplements in order to get the micro-nutrients and minerals they need while living in this multi-national-corporation controlled world. The American diet is virtually devoid of Vitamin D, so that should be one of their first supplements.
- Demand they get Plenty of Sleep - Just as you are responsible for what foods are found in your kitchen, you are also in charge of the light-switch, the TV and all the electronic devices that rob your child of the growth-promoting, obesity-fighting benefits of a full night of deep sleep. Kids need to be in bed by at least 9 pm to have full advantage of the melatonin-cortisol-growth hormone-insulin benefits of a quiet, dark, peaceful sleep environment. The fact is, a full night's sleep in a dark, quiet bed is as necessary for long-term health as anything else. And, like most truly good things, it is free.
Your children are probably going to be faced with much harder life circumstances than you were. It is your job, and should be your pleasure, to prepare them physically to meet these challenges, and mentally to see through all the non-stop advertising and media trickery they will most likely be surrounded by... It may not be your fault, but it will be their problem; start today preparing them to be healthy and happy adults.
Please pass this message along to the one person you know who needs to hear it.