“Unhealthy lifestyle leads to obesity among kids” screamed the headlines from The Times of India. A recent phenomenon you ask? Well, this headline is dated July 28, 2009!
Obesity is no longer a lifestyle disease happening to rich and spoiled kids in America. According to Dr. Abhay Mutha, a consultant diabetologist, obesity among children and teenagers in India, from the age of six to 14, is increasing steadily. He directly correlates obesity to working or busy parents who do not know how harmful wrong food choices can be for their kids.
"Parents today grab something for their children's tiffin on the way to school and that something is mostly junk food. Today, most children's lunch boxes have potato wafers, cakes, pav bhaaji or something similarly, which is not nutritious," he says. Sounds familiar? Does this remind you of your child’s lunch or snack box? If so it is time to change your children’s snacking habits.
Easier said than done! A typical child watches 15-20 commercials, on an average, during an hour of TV. Unfortunately for you, and your kid, most of these commercials promote junk food. So what can you do to wrench your child away from choosing unhealthy snacks?
Pediatricians and experts recommend following 3 key strategies to reduce unhealthy eating.
- Do not buy unhealthy snacks in the first place – Sounds simple, but extremely difficult to implement. Ensure all adults in the family also refrain from eating them.
- Provide healthier alternatives like soups and home-made snacks – Grilled Cheese sandwich, with a cup of warm tomato soup is healthier, tastier, and more filling than a cup of potato chips that provide empty calories
- Educate your kids – Kids need to be informed about healthy and unhealthy eating choices. While there is nothing wrong in the occasional ice cream or potato chips for special occasions, or even once a week, your kids need to know that the daily choices they make will shape their growth. Literally.