Childhood obesity linked to changing eating trends
Obesity is quickly becoming a national epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity rates among children and adolescents have almost tripled. Obese children are at greater risk of developing health problems such as hypertension, diabetes and joint problems. In addition, obese children are more likely to become obese adults.
Overall there are a variety of factors that play a role in obesity. Lifestyle and behavior, environment and genetics may play a part in developing obesity. Eating too many calories and not enough exercise are the main reasons why most people become obese.
A recent study looked at how the location of where kids eat their meals and from where they get their food impact childhood obesity. The study found that kids are eating more fast food at home and when they’re away from home, they are eating more store-prepared meals (store-prepared meals are meals that do not require home preparation or cooking, such as take-out, fried chicken, corn dogs, pizza, etc.). Both fast food and store-prepared meals are higher in calories, thus linking the changing eating trend to an increase in childhood obesity.
Why is this happening? Many factors contribute to why we eat the way we do. Sometimes it is for convenience; sometimes people just don’t know any better. For kids and adolescents, it’s usually both.
As we begin this new school year, consider talking with your kids about what kinds of foods they are eating when they’re not at home. Do they choose to purchase a bag of chips and liter of soda for lunch instead of bringing nutritious food from home or eating a school meal? Do they skip lunch altogether and hit the convenience station or vending machine on the way home to fill up on junk?
Also, consider what kind of food you, parent or guardian, are bringing into the home and to the table. What kind of dinner do you eat most nights of the week: fast food, take-out or other store-prepared meals, or home-cooked meals?
With a little planning ahead, preparing meals at home does not have to be a huge burden. Make a menu a week in advance and do all of your shopping at once to make sure you have all the items you need. Get kids involved in the shopping and the cooking; this is how they learn! Even small children can help by rinsing or chopping, or even just setting the table. Getting your teen involved is very important because, before you know it, they are going to be on their own and they will need to know how to shop and prepare meals for themselves.