Something ImportantReducing childhood exposure to junk food advertisement campaigns, promoting family meals and banning fast food products at the school premises can be helpful to lower the risk of obesity in children.
Well, there appears to be both a link between fast food and obesity in children. Some of these links are large serving sizes, low fiber content, and increased content of fat, sugar and salt in most fast foods. Fast food may lack the nutrition that regular meals can provide. Also, since kids are usually out running and playing together, lack of exercise does not seem to be a link in most kids. Studies have also shown that there has been a dramatic increase of the number of times per day and per week that families eat out since the 1950s. Therefore, it is conceivable that fast food causes obesity.
Are Fast Food and Obesity Linked?
Yes, there are several things about junk food that contribute to obesity in children. First, there are the large serving sizes that are easy to note. In recent years most fast food restaurants have come out with "super-size" portions of burgers, fries. In addition there are "pizza by the slice" restaurants, where one slice is almost the size of a plate. Moreover, they are visually appealing, tempting children to indulge in these calorie-laden foods.
Children who eat fast food frequently also tend to show less liking for nutrition dense foods. Red grapes, oranges, guavas and dark green leafy vegetables not only have a high nutritional profile but also help to release body fat. However, as fast food enthusiasts do not give much importance to vegetables and fruits, the body tends to hold fat stubbornly. To simply put, greater attachment to unhealthy eating among fast food lovers eventually causes obesity.
Fast Food in School
Since the late 70's, schools have been offering meals similar to fast foods in place of the regular school lunches. These schools report over 15,000 items sold each week, especially to those from higher income level families. In addition there are those teenagers that who work for these restaurants and eat there at least one meal during their work schedule.
Advertising for Children
Advertising, including television ads, billboards, and other advertising, including toys in boxed meals, has had an effect upon children as never before. Children these days are growing up with low concern for their health and more concern for what tastes good.
Without enough parental supervision, these kids grow up with little nutritional discretion and usually these kids grow into adults with both weight and health problems as well as teaching another generation that it is OK to waste money on unhealthy foods. So it is not only the young people of our generation that are being affected by the junk food industry, it is going to have an effect for generations to come, if something isn't done about its consumption.
It's Up to Us!
As is expected the fast food industry is not going to think it possible to suddenly change its direction after years of offering poor food choices. It will have to come from the consumer demanding healthier food choices. Our vote comes with where we shop and what we buy. Our children and grandchildren will grow up with weight and other health problems if they continue eating the way they are.
Suggestions for Lowering Obesity Rates in Children
- Banning fast food advertisements that potentially target kids may help to curb the rising obesity cases in children. Promoting these junk foods in the form of advertisements lures children into eating unhealthily. The influence of these ads is so high that children prefer to visit a fast food joint to satisfy their hunger cravings, rather than having their home cooked meal. In Canadian city Quebec, the government has prohibited fast food chains from advertising their products for children. This government policy is being strictly implemented for the last 32 years and the efforts have met with some success. Statistics show that the obesity rates have skyrocketed in other Canadian cities but in Quebec the percentage of obese children has dropped drastically.
- School authorities should ensure that their meal programs for children provide nutritionally balanced meals free from fatty foods. Also, junk food such as hamburgers and soft drinks should not be made accessible during the school hours. Making it mandatory to prohibit sales of fast foods in the school campus can help to reduce childhood exposure to unhealthy foodstuffs.
- It is said that charity begins at home so do healthy eating habits. Though parents have to meet unrealistic deadlines at the office, they need to strike a balance between personal and professional commitments and ensure that the important meals of the day, (breakfast and dinner) are not a standalone event. See to it that everyone is present at the dinner table during meal time. This can help parents to keep a track of what their children are eating everyday. Studies show that having meals together can go a long way in decreasing the likelihood of obesity in children.