Childhood obesity is a serious problem in Canada. The Health at a Glance 2011 report lists Canada as the eighth highest country for obesity in children and youth. 26.1% of Canadian girls and 28.9% of Canadian boys aged 5 to 17 are now overweight or obese.Who is responsible for this growing trend?Is the government at fault because they have not introduced higher taxes on “bad food” or have not banned those “bad foods” completely? Is it the food corporations’ fault for creating and selling such poor quality food? Is it the media’s fault for promoting and enticing people to buy such products? Or could it be because we are now very dependant on technology for entertaining us? Yes, all of these could have a part to play in the overweight/ obesity epidemic but an important group is missing. The parents. The parents who play such a significant role in their child’s development.
Why the parents?The parents buy food for the household. Good food, bad food, take out, junk food, these decisions are made by the parents, especially when the child is too young to have a job. They also determine how much screen time their children receive through-out a week. And they determine what activities, if any, their children will participate in.In the Active Healthy Kids Canada 2011 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth reports that 93% of Canadian children and youth ages 6 to 19 years old are not meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigourous physical activity a day for at least 6 days of the week. These are disappointing numbers. There are many things that can help start a change and most are fairly simple.
Some areas that we can start to work on are;
- Create a positive eating environment, encourage eating healthy foods
- Sit down to eat with your child, and eat the same meal (not 4 different dinners for 4 people). This ritual plays an important part of a young child’s life as they look to their parents for what is “good” or “bad”.
- Also, when sitting down with your child you are also able to monitor their portion sizes and what they are eating.
- Place limits for screen time each day/ week. Instead of the time being spent watching tv, take your children for a walk or bike ride. This benefits both the parent and the child as our physical activity statistics are low as well.
- Remember that children do not have to be in organized sports to be physically fit.
- Playing a game of tag, soccer, or skipping is exercise for them. Parents, remember the outdoor games you used to play and teach them to your child.
Over one quarter of the children in society now have weight issues and we need to start making changes so that numbers can start to decline. Children should be able to enjoy their childhood without the health and emotional problems that being overweight or obese bring.