Monday, January 9, 2012

The Blame Game

This interesting blog post got me thinking about the current state of the health and fitness industry and the sad fact of the world we live in. Do you know that they had to change the name of Adult Onset Diabetes to Type 2 Diabetes because kids were getting it?! There are also reports that suggest that the human race is in a state of de-volution, meaning we're actually digressing in the evolutionary stakes. And by all accounts, children born today are part of the first generation that won't live as long as their parents before them.
This article suggests that parents are to blame. And I mostly agree with it. Parents are children's first teachers. From birth (and even from conception) they decide what children are fed, they control the purse strings and the shopping trolley. If their children are obese, it is most likely because they let them drink Coke instead of water, let them skip dinner and just eat dessert, and feed them things like fruit loops for breakfast. And please don't tell me that parents have no control over their children's behaviour and reactions at meal times! Seriously, everyone has heard it time and time again - if a child refuses to eat their healthy dinner, they are not going to starve! They will eventually eat when they get hungry. It is not an excuse to just feed them a packet of chips and chocolate yoghurt! This is what creates the vicious cycle!
There are of course, other factors that can influence the way parents feed their children, and marketing is a huge contributor. Take "Fruit" loops for example. Some parents see this and think that it is healthy for their children because it has the word fruit in it. Now it is obviously a ridiculous notion to forgive parents for thinking this, but it is also shame on the cereal companies who exploit them! Another favourite of mine is "Vitamin" water. Many parents would, I'm sure, assume that this is healthier for their children than pure water, because it contains added vitamins. Unfortunately, the added sugar content means that vitamin water is actually no better for children than soft drink!
Education is another key factor. If parents have no idea what is healthy food and how to prepare it, then their children are going to grow up the same way. Jamie Oliver demonstrated just how poor American children's knowledge of fruit and vegetables is in his recent TV series. Perhaps there needs to be more of a focus on this in the education syllabus.
This is what has led me to consider going back to study this year. I am really passionate about making a difference and feel that working with children is the way to do it. So, I'm going to sign up to do my degree in nutritional medicine, with an aim of working with children and their parents in getting their eating habits on track!

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