by Jonell Galloway
Teaching your kids good eating habits, now and not later
Alarming increase in rate of obesity in European children
As covered in our article IOTF of May 2008, obesity has taken on epidemic proportions in European children. According to IOTF report (International Obesity TaskForce) figures, Europeans are starting to wake up to the seriousness of this with regard to health. One in five European children now fall into the obese range, with an annual increase of two percent, according to another IOTF report.
Some European countries now have an even higher rate of obesity than Americans, going as high as 30% in some countries.
Two-thirds of these children will remain obese for their entire lives, and their life expectancy is reduced by several years, since obesity leads to a long list of other serious illnesses, including early-onset heart disease, respiratory disorders and musculoskeletal diseases, according to Swiss government statistics that came out in January 2008.
The good news for Switzerland
The 2002 statistics had revealed that one out of five children in Switzerland were obese. The good news arising out of the 2008 report is that in Switzerland and France, obesity rates in children are dropping, and are now one in six, most probably thanks to active campaigns on the part of the government to educate children about how to eat. The sedentary lifestyle, held in Geneva in May 2008, made these figures public.
Diet and sedentary lifestyle main causes of increasing obesity
This rise can be attributed to numerous changes in lifestyle, but mainly to diet and health crisis.
As children have taken on eating habits similar to those of Americans, the rate of obesity has risen. One of the sounding alarms for this Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the rise in type 2 diabetes in obese children.
Children don’t walk to school anymore; they are often driven, even when they live two blocks away. Television, iPods, computer games, chatting, MySpace, and other such couch potato and deskbound activities aggravate the problem even further.
How to teach your children good eating habits
The time is now, today, and not tomorrow: start by researching the sites listed below to get informed, and then to find fun, interactive ways of teaching your children the importance of diet (and health).
The Food Pyramid
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed the Food Pyramid was developed in the 1960s as a response to the alarmingly high rises in heart disease in the U.S., along with a pamphlet called Pattern for , which is updated every five years. In the 1980s, they started publishing Daily Food ChoicesDaily Food Choices, but unfortunately Americans didn’t take much note, so finally in 1992, they decided to produce it in graphic form, in what they call Food Guide Pyramid.
As European children’s eating habits increasingly resemble those of American children, obesity has continued to rise. The USDA developed an array of pamphlets, pyramid planning programs, sites and wide-reaching educational methods and media for teaching Americans how to eat, including the MyPyramid site. These materials and methods can easily be adapted to a European setting.
Teaching children how to eat healthily
MyPyramid for Kids gives parents resources and ideas for teaching their children good eating habits. Some of these include simple common-sense suggestions, like getting children involved in cooking (they are more likely to eat their broccoli if they helped prepare it) or setting the table; praising their efforts and making them feel an important part of the process; interactive computer games such as My Pyramid Blastoff; coloring pages, and other educational materials, adapted to different age groups.
As we continue to build this blog, Kids in the Kitchen will include recipes to help you get your children involved in the kitchen. I’d be willing to bet that they’ll eat the guacamole they helped make, even if it’s not really as good as their Mom’s. And above all, Kids in the Kitchen will guide you in your own anti-obesity campaign, so that your children look forward to a longer and healthier life.
This article was originally published on GenevaLunch.