If you watch the talk shows and commercials the week before the Super Bowl, you’ll see they promote food for Super Bowl Sunday. So I wonder, is the Super Bowl about football, or is it about food? And do families across America sit down to watch this once-a-year football game, armed with super bowls full of high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-calorie, and high-salt foods?
If you think about it, every occasion or holiday is the same scenario — advertisers and the media promote food and drink and the unhealthiest items to our families. Over the years, these items have been supersized. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. With the rise in population of overweight children, pediatricians now deal with Type 2 diabetes in their young patients, and children are being diagnosed with high cholesterol along with a multitude of serious health conditions.
What is happening to our young population?
There are many theories. Many blame the school lunch programs, or the fast food restaurants, but our efforts cannot stop there. Many factors contribute to being overweight. We can look at genetics, medications, or depression to name a few. If any of these are your concern for your child, make an appointment with a doctor you trust, who can assess these circumstances. The doctor may also need to screen for a medical condition that can be associated with obesity..
As a weight loss coach for 27 years, I also ask you to look no further than your front door for clues. When you take an objective look, you may be surprised at what you see. Why do you think all the talk shows and commercials are about food? Because adults buy into this, many adults eat large portions of the food that make them overweight and unhealthy, mindlessly in front of the TV. The advertisers and producers know this, they are just giving the people what they want, and it affects our children.
In my book, Body, Mind, and Mouth I tell the story of a busy working mother and her young son. By age 5 the only food her son would eat was fast food hamburgers and fries. The mother is a busy attorney and could not understand why he refused to eat anything else. Both she and her 5-year-old son were overweight, and she was a client of mine. I asked her, how long has he refused to eat anything else? Her response was that she is too busy, and offering these dinners to him is all she has done. She always felt that she is not a supermodel, and eating fast food is quick and easy. As parents we are supermodels! We are supermodels to our children and they model our behavior. She was modeling a lifestyle of being overweight and unhealthy. It was happening within the constraints of her home.
In no way do I want to blame mothers. I too am a mother! But unhealthy and overweight happens when we are not paying attention. Another story in Body, Mind, and Mouth introduces you to a woman at one of my seminars, who stated that she and her husband have been so busy working for all the materialistic trappings, that now her entire family is overweight. Again, it happened within their home.
Sometimes as parents we are either too busy or too lazy to care for the nutritional needs of our family. We and our kids are being pulled in many directions. But in either instance, busy or lazy will yield the same result. Busy and lazy allows us to feed our kids large portions of processed, precooked, unhealthy food, in that super bowl. Maybe as parents if we change our ways, advertisers will change theirs, because our kids are also watching those commercials and asking for those foods.
Preventing your child from being overweight might mean changing the way your family eats. It might mean making time to have a meal together on certain days of the week. It could mean limiting the amount of time your child spends watching TV or using electronic games, and spending more time engaged with each other. It can mean doing fun, action packed, activities together. It will mean communicating more and understanding each others needs. It’s likely to mean everyone will become healthier. And it does mean… lead by example!