Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Childhood Obesity and Fast Food

by George Godoy

Due to the busy lifestyles of two income households, the demand for quick and easy microwaveable food, fast food and snack foods have increased drastically. It is estimated that 22 million of the world's children under 5 are overweight or obese and approximately one in four American children are overweight.

Perhaps the advertising of fast foods, and busy life styles has contributed to this. Given our fondness for fast food (an ever-growing fondness, due to ever-busier lives) and our tendency to "supersize," it's easy to imagine that caloric intake is the crux of the obesity problem. Along with our lack of physical activity comes the convenience of fast food. It's important to move away from all those ready-to-eat processed foods which contain almost no nutritional value (and are actually breaking the body down) and head instead to fresh, healthy foods.

First and foremost, require that your child finish his or her healthy meal before any "treat" type foods are made available. Stock your refrigerator with low-fat milk, water, or fruit juices made from real fruit. A healthy breakfast of milk with wholemeal wheat biscuits and a fruit is a good start for the day.

Try some of these ideas for school lunches and snacks: baby carrots rather than chips, fruit cups, turkey sandwiches cut in fun shapes on whole grain bread. It's simply not an option to choose those refined sugar-loaded gummy bears when gummy fruit juice snacks in every shape and size are a mere isle or two away. Also, lets bring vegetables and fruit back into our lives. Does your family have five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily?

The benefits to physical exercise are extremely important as it will reduce the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, along with reducing or maintaining body weight. Since overweight children often avoid playing with other children because of the teasing and tormenting they receive, you may need to exercise with your child. Children are overweight because they eat inappropriate amounts and types of food and they don't exercise enough. Plan a regiment of exercise that is fun and stimulating like brisk walks, bicycle rides, hiking or swimming.

With bad eating habits, a fatty diet and some hereditary influence some kids are doomed to battle childhood obesity late into their twenties. If the family as a whole learns about healthy eating and cooks new healthy recipes together, kids won't feel they are being singled out. Take a long term approach - healthy lifestyles develop slowly over time, and remember, your kids watch you and learn from your example.

About the Author
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Childhood Obesity and Fast Food



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