Fighting Childhood Obesity Starts at Home

Childhood obesity is becoming a dominant concern. Parents and public health professionals are all pondering on what can be done to curb this increasing trend. Fighting childhood obesity begins at home.

We had our kids when we were in our twenties. When I started my first job, we already had two of them. We realized that it didn’t make financial sense for my wife to continue working since all her income would go towards child care expenses. We became a single income family. We needed to be frugal and practical in how we spent our precious little financial resources.

Like all parents we wanted the best for our kids. We wished for our kids to grow up with the best nutrition we could afford.

We minimized the amount of pre-made food. Mostly because it was too expensive and not so nutritious. We made our own baby food. We didn’t stock our shelves with potato chips or cookies. They were simply not available in our household. Fast food restaurants never saw us.

Kids always seem to be hungry. Their boundless energy consumes lots of calories. Whenever they would complain about wanting something to eat – we had the same answer. You can have anything you want as long as it is a fruit or vegetable. So they didn’t need our permission or supervision when they wanted a snack.

We didn’t buy any soft drinks. The amount of milk and juice was monitored. We were concerned about the effect that lots of juice can have on teeth. They had milk on their cereal, a glass of juice in the morning and a juice box for lunch. The rest of the time they drank tap water.

We did have cookies and muffins. But we never bought them from the store. The kids and mum made them. They learned that there is effort involved in the enjoyment of cookies and muffins. They loved making them and adding their own creative combinations to them.

Baking is always better when licking the beater. Photo by Alan Viau
Baking is always better when licking the beater. Photo by Alan Viau

In contributing to the effort, they were less likely to scarf down the whole lot in a short time. They knew that to get more they needed to remake some. They also learned that making them also includes cleaning up. They got to do their part in cleaning the dishes and cookware.

Cleaning up is an important lesson too. Photo by Alan Viau
Cleaning up is an important lesson too. Photo by Alan Viau

Our kids were not into any hockey for example. They did participate in soccer and swim lesson. But mostly, we are an arts family. They went to piano lessons and choir. But we did make sure that they had their daily allotment of outdoor play time.

What they learned has carried them to adulthood. None of my three kids ever were or are obese. They shun fast food outlets and cook good food for themselves. My eldest attributes his becoming a chef to the time he spent with mum in the kitchen during these early days.

Being pressed by financial practicality, we made value choices based on good nutrition. Fighting childhood obesity really starts at home. It begins with what parents allow into their household and how they think about food, nutrition and health.

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