The percentage of overweight kids has grown from a problem to an epidemic today. The America Academy of Pediatrics has given various reasons for this increase in the number of overweight children. One issue is the fact that parents have less time than previously and find it easier to provide kids with convenience and fast foods.
Kids encouraged to eat junk food would rather have potato chips, French fries or deep fried meat than a healthy alternative. This is often not helped by the poor state of school lunches. They contain processed and convenience foods with chemicals and additives, similar to fast food restaurants.
A worse scenario is major soft drink companies promoting their unhealthy beverages all over America. Schools readily allow them access to children because they provide funding for their athletic and recreational programs. Today more franchise fast food and zero nutrition soft drinks are available to kids in school than ever before. This is 100% damaging the health of our children.
The ADA has acknowledged the fact that kids are not consuming enough of the vegetables and fruits that prevent heart diseases and help kids have a healthy weight. Parents should be concerned about what their kids are consuming at school and should encourage them to make their own healthy lunches and snacks.
The number one thing parents should do is contact school boards and inform them of this issue. Children who don’t participate in sports usually consume more and eating from the unhealthy school cafeteria menus is seriously injurious to their growth. School lunch menus should carry fresh produce and baked meat and potatoes rather fried.
Second, Parents should educate children about the benefits of vegetables, fruits, dairy products and whole wheat foods. You should try to push these nutrients in small proportions since children will avoid large servings at first. The more parents get involved the better the situation gets for the children.
Involving children in choosing, preparing and packing their lunch is essential to developing good healthy eating habits. Let the kids choose their favorite vegetables, dairy products and fruits and learn what they like most and what they don’t.
Usually, overweight children enjoy lots of sweets and fattening fast foods. The difficult task is to eliminate this eating pattern and stop them eating unhealthy food permanently. Prepare healthy snacks for them to consume all day, keep them easily accessible and make sure sweets are consumed as a treat not a meal. Snacks with fruits, cream cheese, vegetables with hummus dip, whole wheat cereals and bread are excellent choices for children who are plagued with obesity.
Unhealthy eating patterns continue from generation to generation, so by developing healthy lunch ideas you are actually helping the health of your grand-children and great grand-children!