Kids love Blossom Water, a fan letter we got last week from a fourth grader illustrates it. The fan letter and drawing that arrived with it also brought to our attention the fact that we’ve not spent enough time thinking about and writing about kids. Not any more! We love kids.
Any mom can tell you that kids can be picky eaters. As they grow into their taste buds and their identities, it’s not all that surprising, but it can be bad for their bodies. According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity affects one in six children and adolescents it the United States. The CDC defines obesity as having a Body Mass Index above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and gender. (The BMI divides a person’s weight by his or her height to produce a number. Because children have different body compositions, they are compared only to their peers rather than to adults.)
The cause of childhood obesity are very like those of adult obesity: genetics, activity level, diet, lifestyle, behavior, access to nutritional foods…”Behaviors that influence excess weight gain include eating high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages, not getting enough physical activity, sedentary activities such as watching television or other screen devices, medication use, and sleep routines…In contrast, consuming a healthy diet and being physically active can help children grow as well as maintain a healthy weight throughout childhood. Balancing energy or calories consumed from foods and beverages with the calories burned through activity plays a role in preventing excess weight gain. ” (https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html)
Childhood obesity poses both immediate and long-term risks to a child’s health and happiness. Such dangers as high blood pressure, breathing problems, and joint problems compounded by social stigma exacerbate disease risk factors in adulthood. What’s a parent to do?
A study at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences “identified the three most significant risk factors for child obesity among preschoolers: (1) inadequate sleep, (2) a parental BMI that classifies the mom or dad as overweight or obese, and (3) parental restriction of a child’s eating in order to control his weight.” (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-01/uoic-isi011414.php)
Anyone who has ever dieted can tell you that restricting certain foods only makes them more desirable. Instead, the U of I study suggests changing the food environment. If you live in a food environment where unhealthy foods are readily available, your kid probably does, too. By making healthy food choices more attractive and more readily available, you can make a significant impact on your child’s eating patterns and resulting health. Even picky eaters can be enticed into better eating habits.
“What’s exciting here is that these risk factors are malleable and provide a road map for developing interventions that can lead to a possible reduction in children’s weight status. We should focus on convincing parents to improve their own health status, to change the food environment of the home so that healthy foods are readily available and unhealthy foods are not, and to encourage an early bedtime.”
And do as our friend Spencer suggests: eat healthy fruits and vegetables, drink healthy drinks. Because “Real Food Helps Me Feel Strong.”