Recently, a friend asked me the following questions. She was doing research for a school paper. I fired off these answers rather quickly. I stand by them. But at the end I add a little bit more insight.
What do you believe the main factors are in childhood obesity?
- Processed foods with refined grains, bad fats and high sugar content
- Too many foods with sugar in them
- Too few fruits & vegetables
- Not enough movement (aka exercise)
Is it possible to retrain how people feed themselves and their children in order for the kids to be healthier?
Sure it’s possible. Step 1 is to realize that ‘fast’ food of any kind (includes processed foods and prepared foods) are part of the problem. Somehow we need to find more time to prepare our meals properly. If you don’t have time to prepare meals now, you’ll need to make time for illness later.
Can you eat healthy without spending a great deal of money, or is that an impossibility?
Absolutely. Consider how much money is spent on food of little to no nutritional value: fruit juices, candies, sodas, fast food, processed foods. If you remove those costs, your budget would have room for more fruits and vegetables. (It would also help if the government would stop subsidizing what we shouldn’t be eating and subsidize fruits and vegetables instead.)
What is your best advice to help kids keep from becoming obese, or to help those who already have a weight problem?
Don’t start them on sugar. Eliminate sugar if they’re already eating it. Give them vegetables at every meal and require that they eat them before anything else. Get them moving.
What additional ideas/thoughts might you have to help parents keep their kids ’weight in check?
Set a good example. Encourage them to move by going to the park or on bike rides with them.
What would I add to these answers?
After having more time to think about this question, I would like to offer a few more suggestions. These are based on my research and what I know about how food is grown, processed, and prepared in our modern world. I realize that some of these are more costly and time-consuming. It’s up to each of us to decide when to spend money on our health: Either up front by providing our bodies with good quality food. Or after we become ill by paying for medications, doctor visits, surgeries, and even death.
- Buy organic whenever you can
- Buy local – find your local farmers markets and buy there first
- Cut back the carbs – the breads, pastas, & sugars
- Avoid fast food
- Know your ingredients, whether you buy it at the store or through a restaurant
- Buy free-range chickens & eggs, preferably from
- Seek out grass-fed & grass-finished beef