Parents: The Weakest Link in the Childhood Obesity Epidemic
September 26, 2006
A wide variety of studies released this summer showed that children in all U.S. age groups are gaining too much weight, including babies.
One-third of children and teens are either overweight or about to become overweight. Nutrition experts, after looking over these studies, point to the parents as being the single most important factor.
Most overweight children also have at least one parent who is overweight. The children learn unhealthy behaviors from their parents at an early age. Mothers and fathers may encourage their kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, but the message doesn't come through unless the parents also do so themselves.
According to a survey of almost 1,500 children conducted by the America On The Move Foundation, 71 percent of children get information about how to be healthy from their mothers and 43 percent get such information from their fathers. Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
Problems with home meal planning can include too many servings of sodas and sugary drinks, too much packaged and fast food, not enough fruits and vegetables, mixed messages from day to day about food choices, and no coherent meal schedule.
Obesity leads to an increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and other health problems.