Teaching Better Eating Habits To Beat Childhood Obesity
January 27, 2014

Teaching Better Eating Habits To Beat Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a big problem. It leads to greater health issues later in life, not the least of which are emotional. Doctors and scientists work diligently to better understand the issues related to childhood obesity. One such issue is fast food. For a while now, people have blamed fast food primarily as the cause of childhood obesity. The truth of the matter, though, is that fast food is but a symptom contributing to the cause, as redOrbit recently reported.

Does fast food impact health? Of course. Is fast food a part of the childhood obesity issues? Absolutely. But it is not the prime cause. In fact, it is only a small portion of the cause. The real cause of childhood obesity is poor dietary habits learned at home. Part of the poor dietary habits is fast food, of course, but this also includes not eating enough fruits and vegetables and not getting enough exercises as well as eating too many processed foods and overly sweet beverages.

To come to this conclusion, “researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 2007 and 2010. The team analyzed dietary intake in nearly 4,500 children between 2 years and 18 years old. The children were categorized as being non-consumers of fast food, low consumers (less than or equal to 30 percent of calories from fast food) or high consumers (more than 30 percent of calories from fast food).” Understanding the patterns will help us to better address the issue of childhood obesity. As the redOrbit article explains the three main predictors of preschool obesity risk consist of

  • a lack of adequate sleep
  • having parents with high body mass index (BMI)
  • having their eating habits restricted for weight control purposes

Brent McBride, the author of the study that found these predictors said, “What’s exciting here is that these risk factors are malleable and provide a road map for developing interventions that can lead to a possible reduction in children’s weight status. We should focus on convincing parents to improve their own health status, to change the food environment of the home so that healthy foods are readily available and unhealthy foods are not, and to encourage an early bedtime.”

See, if we address childhood obesity in terms of teaching better eating habits, those habits will likely carry on into adulthood, which means that we address adult obesity issues as well. As I have written before, my parents hammered into our brains the importance of eating well balanced, rightly portioned meals, and to this day, I always have meals with proper portion sizes and a balance of fruits, veggies, protein, dairy, and grains. For a long time, I did not realize that I was doing this because it was just how I was taught to eat. It is a habit that carried from my childhood to present day.

This is why it is so important to teach children healthy eating habits when they are young. America currently is a country of obesity issues, but we do not have to be. We can be a healthy country, but we have to start now. Simple lifestyle changes like not eating as much fast food, processed foods, and sugars will help start us down the path to health. Additionally, incorporating more fruits and veggies and more activity will further our goals toward health. And if adults model these behaviors, then children will naturally pick up on them. Of all the things we do, all the lessons we teach our children, teaching them to make healthy eating and exercise choices are amongst some of the most important.

Let’s not wait. Let’s all start teaching better habits to our children.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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