Child Obesity Habits Begin At Home: Study Gives Tips On Parental Control
A nation-wide study of more than 1100 pre-school children up to 5 years of age in Australia indicates that 20 percent of children are obese even before they enter school. Particular habits formed at home were identified as leading causes of a condition that is both physically and socially deleterious to kids and can continue all their lives - obesity.
The authors, led by Louise Hardy from the University of Sydney, point out the common elements in the homes of overweight students in their report, published in the journal Preventive Medicine.
- More than 30 percent of overweight kids had a television in their bedrooms.
- Almost half of the overweight kids ate dinner in front of a TV more than 3 times per week.
- Almost 60 percent of healthy and obese children were given sweet rewards for good behavior.
- More than one-fifth of overweight and obese children did not eat breakfast.
- 70 percent of parents of overweight kindergarten children believed that their kids were the 'right weight,' and 30 percent of parents of obese kids believed that their kids were the 'right weight.'
Hardy acknowledged that the above habits were either the results of parents' lack of time or lack of education regarding the habits that can lead to obesity, but recommended in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that children should be 'screen free' while eating their meals. (Screen means no TV, no computer, no cell phone and, generally, no electronic devices.)
Children should not be drinking sugar in soft drinks and juices, nor rewarded with sweets for good behavior, Hardy says. "This may sound draconian," Hardy told the Herald, "but why are we rewarding good behavior at all?"
You can say, 'Well that study was about Australian kids," but just last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics, released a report entitled "Children, Adolescents, Obesity and the Media." In it is the statement: "American society couldn't do a worse job at the moment of keeping children fit and healthy - too much TV, too many food ads, not enough exercise, and not enough sleep."
It may sound old fashioned, and Hardy admits that time is a factor for today's parents, but she says there's nothing like kids watching the process of food preparation, eating the food with the family, and after dinner, going out with family members to kick a soccer ball around.