There’s been a lot of talk about the childhood obesity crisis, especially around the problem of school lunches. As a child who was of a pretty normal weight and ate the school lunches, I think I can safely say that’s not the problem.
I think families need to start taking more responsibility at home for what their children eat. If you look at the kids in the lunchroom with a weight problem, it’s not the kids with the school bagel that are suffering. It’s the kids with the cooler full of fast food and snacks from home. I know in this economy it can be tough to afford healthy foods, but there are some simple steps I think parents can take to help fight childhood obesity at home.
First, I think the effort really needs to start young. Those kids who say they hate vegetables are the kids who were never made to eat them when they were little. As a kid, I knew I had to eat my vegetables (even though I still refused Brussels Sprouts). My parents made it clear that eating healthy was a necessity. I also participated in every sport and extracurricular I could get my hands on, from dance to lacrosse to swim team. I think there isn’t as much of an emphasis put on exercise at home anymore, even just going outside and playing during the summer. My cousins and I used to play wiffleball every day for hours. I feel like that kind of activity just isn’t something kids want to do anymore. It’s all about the internet and video games. I feel like an old fuddy-duddy saying that, but I really think that’s at the root of the problem.
Second, I think there need to be more home cooked meals. Fast food definitely is a problem, especially when you’re eating it multiple times a week. Growing up, I knew I was going to get fast food maybe once a month if I was lucky. I know some parents don’t have the luxury of having time to cook at home, but I think there are some easy meals you can prepare fairly quickly at home. Some frozen veggies, whole wheat spaghetti and a healthy bottled tomato sauce can easily be thrown together in under twenty minutes, and is generally inexpensive. Lunches for school can also be pre-made, and can focus on healthy snacks like fruits and veggies and a well-balanced sandwich on wheat bread. I think these are easy, relatively cheap options that parents should be considering to keep their kids on the right track.
Lastly, I think parents need to start leading by example. I think this part is really key, because it’s hard for a child with unhealthy parents to understand why they should get healthy themselves. Try to make a getting fit a family activity by including your kids in the cooking process, going on family walks and talking about healthy choices. It’s really a win-win, because you’ll be getting yourself in better shape, too.
So there are my recommendations to get this childhood obesity crisis under control. You hear me, first lady?
Does anyone else have any opinions on how to battle childhood obesity?