According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese, and the numbers keep on climbing. It has become an epidemic throughout modern civilisations Being overweight is not just a problem when it comes to performing in sports or moving in daily life. Excess weight is a major risk factor for a huge variety of diseases ranging from cardiovascular problems to cancer.
The earlier our children become overweight the more likely they will develop long-term health issues. And it is not the lack of movement that most people suspect to be the main culprit. Although this is part of the problem it has a fairly small impact compared to the most important factor, nutrition.
What and how we eat influences our body weight far more than any other parameter.
But how did our children become so malnourished? Is it that parents just don’t care about good nutrition any more? With some that might be true, but then again there must be other reasons that add up to the equation.
If we take a look at the products that target children, we can see where things go wrong. More than 90% of the products that are “designed” for children should only be consumed in very small amounts, if at all. Big food corporations try very hard to convince children to consume their products. The total budget for commercials by soda and fast food companies is more than 10 times the amount spent for healthy food choices. The reason for this is simply profit. When comparing these products to vegetables and fruit the gross profit margin for junkfood is about 3 times higher. To a big worldwide operating company that is all that counts. There is no interest in healthy children.
And they really try hard to get the attention of your children and hook them to their product as early as possible. The food industry spends billions of dollars to turn poor nutritional quality food and drinks into gold. Toys, popular children’s characters, flashy colors and everything else that makes children’s eyes brighter is used or better abused. Who cares that the product is full of sugar and artificial stuff that has a closer resemblance with plastic than actual food? The ingredients are specifically designed to overload the brains reward center and trick it into loving the taste, even though the nutritional value is zero.
It is somehow perverted, that companies that produce some sort of junkfood sponsor for all major sport events. They have a very powerful lobby that influences political decisions whenever possible.
So what can you do?
Educate your children about junkfood. Let them know what they eat and help them make better choices.
Try not to buy any products that are considered bad food choices. Since profit is the number one reason they are on the market, you as a consumer can influence the market with your choices. Every choice counts.
Don’t let soda companies and other junkfood producers sell their products at schools. Take the influence away from your kids.
Ultimately you as the parent have the final say in your childs education. What steps are you going to take at home and how will you influence their environments?