Some people believe that lack of exercise is a contributor to obesity; some people believe that poor nutrition is a contributor to obesity. Really? Both beliefs are probably correct. Sitting around doing nothing will not burn off many calories or keep your body in a physical condition that allows you to enjoy an active life. Stuffing your body with unhealthy food choices will result in a body that is probably going to have medical problems. I don't see any arguments supporting either one of these dubious lifestyle choices. The problem and cure is healthful childcare. Our children have no idea what is expected of them and their bodies. Adults need to be adults and to teach the young healthy habits.
To enjoy a long and healthy life means starting earlier than waking up middle-aged with a body that's starting to fall apart. Healthy aging starts in childhood.
At the Diet and Optimum Health Conference at the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI), David S. Ludwig, M.D. , Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, presented a case for "An integrative, family-based approach to childhood obesity." (See the video of his session!). Dr. Ludwig says, "Excessive body weight has become the most common chronic medical condition of childhood, with prevalence rates of 1 in 3 among the general population and an astounding 1 in 2 among some minority groups." This is not news to share with our children, but this is news that parents need to be aware of and to act on to make sure their children aren't on the chronically unhealthy side of the equation.
Adults get fat for many reasons and the same goes for children. It's not an either or proposition; there are many causes of obesity, but the main one might be home environment. We can blame many outside sources and reasons (TV advertising of fatty, sugary food choices directed to young children, etc.) but our own environment is where we have the most control.
Dr. Ludwig suggests there are three key factors: Biology, Behavior, and Environment. With biology we concern ourselves with genetic predisposition, diet and nutrition. Behavior is where proper adult guidance comes into play. The environment is composed of the day-to-day living experiences and choices that protect, or don't protect, children and their wellbeing.
Basically, we need to understand the role of diet and nutrition along with exercise as we teach and show our children how to have a healthy lifespan. We don't have to hold classes (but they're probably a good idea in formal educational settings), but we need to show by example.
We can actually learn for ourselves as we teach the children. We don't need to limit our snack choices to just celery sticks and baby carrots, but families can enjoy excellent food like a Chocolate Beet Cake suggested from the LPI Healthy Youth Program. Check out the rest of the recipes there as well.
We also don't need to enroll our kids in every sports league that comes along. Just sharing physical exercise by walking with them in local parks, playing catch, going horseback riding, and encouraging them by coming to watch them playing in sports activities.
There used to be a computer expression that's applicable to diet and nutrition as well, "Garbage in, garbage out." In other words, putting bad things into our bodies will result in bad things happening to our bodies. Healthy aging means making healthy choices, and therefore being around for years and years, enjoying a life free from chronic disease. We can teach our kids and grandkids to age healthfully along with us.
c. 2013 - Live2AgeWell.com
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