Obesity in general continues to be a growing (no pun intended) problem in our society. New diet fads abound, exercise videos, commercials for gyms, and television shows such as The Biggest Looser inundate us. Fast food is an easy way to find a meal, and offers quick choices when on the go. I have myself stopped at Taco Bell instead of waiting the 45 minutes until I get home for something healthier.
This trend toward restaurants and fast food has a definite impact on our health as we see rises in anxiety and depression with the increase of chemicals and toxins in our bodies. But the biggest impact is on our children. Childhood obesity is a a problem of increasing proportions (again, no pun intended). Because there are so many options for easy meals: chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, pizza etc, children are not being taught healthy eating habits. I have friends with children that cook two meals, (sometimes three), one for the adults and one for the children. The meals for the children are often far from healthy. I remember as a child I was to eat what was put in front of me. If I choose not to eat the meal provided I didn’t get anything else. Now, this means that when liver and onions was on the menu, I went a little hungry (I still can’t eat the stuff), but I obviously didn’t die of this.
There is a great deal of research out there linking eating habits to worsening mental health concerns. ADHD can be moderated with diet, difficulties with Autism can be moderate by removing gluten from their diet (Neither of them are caused or cured by food changes). There is less definitive research linking general hyperactivity in children to diet, though healthy eating habits have been shown to go a long way toward helping concentration and focus in non ADHD children.
With out fast-paced fast-food world it is hard enough to cook healthy for ourselves, let alone our picky children. It is worth the effort though, both for the adults in the household and the children. Building the foundation for healthy eating (as with most lifestyles, healthy sexuality, healthy values, etc) begins in childhood. For more information on childhood obesity please visit the UMHS Newsroom with the review of the top 10 health concerns for children in the US, as well as the mayoclinic.com.