Concerned about global warming destroying our planet and endangering our children’s future? Well, I’ve got another bad news flash for you. We are killing our kids right now with food. Fake food.
Over the years, I’ve written many articles about the deteriorating health of our children. The processed foods and drinks we feed our children are causing obesity rates to skyrocket, and a new study from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows just how bad things have become. When will it be bad enough for us to act as adults? Perhaps it may appear acceptable to ignore our well-being but let’s not normalize childhood obesity too!
According to a just released study led by WHO and the Imperial College London, we’ve seen a tenfold increase in childhood and adolescent obesity in the past four decades. If these current trends continue, more children and teens will be obese rather than moderately or severely underweight by 2022 (that’s FIVE years from now).
The study published this month in The Lancet analyzed weight and height measurements from nearly 130 million people aged over five years, making it the largest ever number of participants involved in such a study.
What’s behind the obesity rise? We are not paying attention to what we are feeding our kids. And for poor families and communities, healthy nutritious foods are out of their reach due to cost factors. As the study’s lead author, Professor Majid Ezzati points out, we need ways “to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.”
The foods that are making our children grow up obese and at risk of diseases like diabetes include cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods: breakfast cereals, instant soup, soft drinks, and processed cookies. We’ve got to get that fake food out of our homes now, and while we’re at it, let’s get ourselves, and our children, off the couch and moving. A sedentary lifestyle exacerbated by too much screen time just multiplies the problem.
By the way, do you think that because I’ve mentioned poor countries that childhood obesity is somebody else’s problem? Think again. In 2016, the obesity rate was highest in Polynesia and Micronesia followed closely by these high-income, English-speaking countries: the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Imagine a future where you are well past retirement age but still working as the caregiver for your sick adult child who suffered a heart attack, stroke or became blind from diabetes because you didn’t heed the warnings and reached for fast food fixes.
The WHO study has just lent more weight to an already weighty crisis. So act now and take better control of your child’s life.
Your Action Items:
- Go into your kitchen with your child and identify all the processed foods in the cupboard and fridge. Put it all into the centre of your kitchen. You know what the foods are:
- Sugar or salt laden cereals
- Cookies in packages
- Pop or energy drinks
- Candies and Chips
- Get a big garbage bag and throw it all out.
- Explain to your child why you are doing this as teachable moment. Help them understand WHY these foods are NOT good for them.
- Clean up breakfast: get back to basics like oatmeal or granola with yogurt
- Pieces of fruit – real food – apples, oranges (not juice)
- Offer a beautiful water bottle to take to school along with lunch – add water!
- Put a lovely plain small dark chocolate bar in your child’s lunch
- Dinner can be take-out, but buy real food – how about a roasted chicken? And have a salad rather than empty fatty calories from fries. Try roasted potatoes.
- Be a role model – eat and drink what you’ve asked your children to consume.
- Watch Sugar Coated – the Movie. If you’ve not seen it, watch it with your family. It will truly change your life!
Feed your children well now, and in 2022, your child may escape becoming one of WHO’s obese statistics.
ELAINE CHIN, M.D., M.B.A. FOUNDER, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER North American trailblazer in Precision Medicine. Founder of Executive Health Centre, a Medical Wellness and Anti-Aging Clinic. Medical expert on CitylineTV and in Good Housekeeping Magazine’s GH Institute.