Children Obesity and Holiday Activities

I have just read a very good article in the Guardian entitled “Parents can’t end Britain’s child obesity epidemic “. This linked me though to a BBC article “Should obese children be taken into care” Here it provided the shocking stats that 11% of 15 year olds in England are obese according to a survey from the World Health Organization.

I have recently decided to return to a diet myself as I have been slowly piling on the pounds so admittedly I am a little more aware of my own weight and that of others at the moment.

Today I took my youngest to a local theme park. During my time at the park I did notice a seemingly larger number of overweight children and adults. I had a terrible time finding anything healthy and appetising to eat. This has been a trend over this summer holiday. Hotdogs, ice creams and sugary drinks seem to be the primary offering on stands around children’s theme parks. At farm attractions and activity centres, sausage and chips, sugary drinks and cakes; sweet popcorn and sugary drinks at the cinema.

We take our kids to these places for fun to wear them out and entertain them. We are wearing them out long term with unhealthy food. More calories are consumed than can possibly be burned on these days out. We are linking happiness to unhealthy food choices. We think we are good parents for taking our kids out for a fun day but are we? Should more of us take our own healthy packed lunches and snacks to the venues that allow us to do so?

At home what can we do to get kids interested in nutrition and health?

I am currently tackling this in my house. It’s not easy. There is a gap in the market place for books relating to nutrition for kids. I’m not sure if this is because of our fear of anorexia in teenagers but for kids there isn’t that much to be read. With younger children you can make your own nutrition story books as an activity.

Exercise is the key in helping to burn off those extra calories that we Brits allow our kids to consume through snacking. In our garden we have a trampoline, skipping ropes and space hoppers. During the warmer months these are well used. The odd walk to the local playground burns off a few extra calories. In the winter like many we rely on the Wii fit for extra activity outside school.

Food experiments are good for older children. We did one with food colouring and a selection of milks and creams so they gained an understanding of the fats in certain milks.

Leading by example is the hardest. We try very hard to lead by example. It is too easy to buy processed meals and sweet treats. Home cooking takes time and is not always loved by all but at least you can talk about what went into it. I try hard to find interesting new recipes some of which I blog here.