Childhood Obesity Has Never Been This Bad
In the last decade, the percentage of overweight children in New Zealand in the age group 9 to 15 years has doubled.
Approximately 20 – 25% of children are overweight or obese, with a similar number being physically inactive.
Good nutrition means we must act today — If our children are to enjoy optimal health, they must eat well and practice good nutritional habits. This is essential during childhood and adolescence because bodies are rapidly developing and lifestyle habits are forming.
Children spend too much time viewing television, playing computer games and are generally much less active than children were even just a decade ago. Children need to be more active in order to keep their weight down, cycling, sports such as soccer and other sports should be active encouraged.
If as a parent you yourself take part at least three times weekly in exercise, walking or sports, you are more likely to have children who are equally as active.
Most importantly, children need to snack on healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, plain popcorn, crackers and healthy dips like hummus. Foods which promote weight gain are potato chips, take away chicken, fish and chips, soft-drinks, ice-creams, sweets and many “health food bars” which contain as much as 40% sugar. Did you know that children as young as two may be influenced in their food (or junk food) choices by a 30-second advertisement they see on television?
Does my child’s diet need supplementation?
According to conventional dietary wisdom, we should get all the nutrition we need through a balanced diet. Taking large doses of any supplementation can never substitute for eating wisely, and won’t teach anybody to make appropriate food choices. However, food processing, chemical fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals have sapped the nutritional goodness of even wholesome foods. In a perfect world, all children would beg for second helpings of spinach and would pass on the ice cream. Children can easily become nutritionally deficient, children’s diets are already being linked to the occurrence of adult prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. 4
Approximately 40% of children 8-11 years do not eat fruits every day, about one in four children do not consume vegetables on a daily basis.
The most commonly deficient nutrients in children’s diet in New Zealand are iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin A.1, 2 Children need about 50 nutrients on a regular basis. As much as possible, nutrients should come through diet.
The Journal of Pediatrics says only 1% of children in the developed countries such as New Zealand aged 2 – 19 eat what could be termed as a healthy diet. Unfortunately, it is during this phase of intense growth and development when good nutrition is absolutely essential.
Did you know that obesity in children is at an all-time high? Little wonder when you see all the gadgets we now buy for our kids, when we encourage laziness, we encourage obesity.
Children need to run and play, preferably not with computer games, which encourage a sedentary lifestyle and often the fast food lifestyle along with it.
Children need healthy, tasting nutritious foods and drinks, not devitalised processed junk foods. Parents can improving a child’s diet by making healthy food choices themselves thereby teaching by example. Most important of all, give your child lots of love and attention, for they also need your presence, not your presents.
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- Australian and New Zealand Children: Their Health and Well Being 1998.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1998.
- Our Children’s Health, Journal of Pediatrics, 1999.
- Australian National Nutrition Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1995.
- Must A, Childhood energy intake and cancer mortality in adulthood Nutrition Rev 57 21-4 1999.
- Dietz WH, Childhood weight affects adult morbidity & mortality Nutrition Rev 128 (2 Supp):41 I5-4l45, 1998.