Most parents don’t let their children blame others if the child is doing something that is the child’s fault. They tell their children to own up to their mistakes and find a way to fix them.
When it comes to the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, parents should take some of their own advice and realize that they need to fix the mistakes they are making in guiding their children’s nutrition, says Dr. Joseph Galati (www.drjoegalati.com) author of
Eating Yourself Sick: How to Stop Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes from Killing You and Your Family.
He understands that parents want the best for their children in all aspects of their lives but he says too many parents do not take nutrition seriously when they allow their children to make poor food choices.
“Obesity – with all its tremendous complications – will directly decrease the very opportunities they are working so hard to provide for their children,“ he says. The root causes of obesity are poor food choices, excessive snacking and large food portions. “Parents who serve their children fast food and don’t prepare home-cooked meals are fostering bad health that can last a lifetime.”
Through a combination of poor eating habits and little exercise, Galati says today’s parents are setting up their children to live their lives as unfit, obese and unhealthy. As a result, today’s generation will probably have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The problems start early, he says. A child who is obese at age 2 has a 50 percent chance of being obese as an adult.
But Dr. Galati says all is not lost. He offers several tips for parents who want to stop the trend of both adult and childhood obesity.
•Reinstitute the family dinner. Several studies have show that regular family dinners at least a few times a week have many benefits for children, including improving their eating habits, grades, family relationships and overall health, Galati says. Children who eat with their families also display fewer risky behaviors and have a lower risk of obesity.
•Fight for home economics classes in high school. The high school home economics class taught the basics of food nutrition and cooking. Galati says the elimination of these classes across the country is likely one of the reasons many children don’t know where their food comes from. “We have raised an entire generation that is disconnected from the kitchen,” he says.
•Don’t underrate obesity’s impact on health. Obesity is the root cause for 13 differ-ent cancers, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver and cirrhosis, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, erectile dysfunction and many more. Obesity has more than doubled worldwide since 1980. “It should be taken more seriously,” Galati says.
•Improve your health IQ. Galati says too many Americans simply don’t understand how their bodies work and don’t know they are making poor food and lifestyle choices. He said if people knew a few basic facts about their bodies it would help them make better food and lifestyle choices, and enable them to communicate better with their physicians.
“It’s time parents start educating themselves and their children about food and start making better choices,” Galati says. “Otherwise the consequences will be a lot more dire than what most parents probably realize.”
Dr. Joseph Galati (www.drjoegalati.com), author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to Stop Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes from Killing You and Your Family, is a hepatologist who specializes in caring for patients with liver diseases, obesity and nutrition-related disorders.