Lead by Example: Save our Children

Look around any suburban corner, your local beach, school or shopping center and you will notice the ever-increasing girths of our youth.

1 in 4 children are either overweight or obese in Australia and the unfortunate thing is that this statistic is increasing. It is now theorized that unless we do something about it some of us could out live our own children.

Being overweight and especially obese exposes our children to many conditions and diseases that were once thought to be only present in our more senior population. Delayed Onset Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis and heart disease to name a few are all on the increase in our ever expanding youth. If we don’t do something about it, sooner than later our children’s life expectancies could be dramatically reduced to their late 30’s or early 40’s. It is hard to comprehend that children as young as 10 have started to develop these conditions that are more familiar with the 50 to 70 year old groups.

We have all known about this problem for some time, we’ve read about it in newspapers and magazines, listen to it on television and radio, discussed it with friends and family, but still for those most concerned nothing has really changed to improve their situation.

We look for other people or other things and situations to blame. Something or someone else to pass on the responsibility to. Hoping someone else will fix the problem for us.

We blame the Government – yet John Howard leads by example, walking everyday and being sensible about his eating habits even when he’s busy overseas. We blame the schools – yet give our children money to buy what they want. We blame the lack of time – yet let our children watch 20-30 hours of television or play computer games each week. We blame the fact that we are too busy – yet we can sit in a restaurant for 3 hours and just eat, or sit in front of the television for 4-5 hours a night. We blame fast food restaurants – yet we’re the ones who take our children to them and buy them what ever they want.

Our so-called hectic lifestyles, where we claim to have no time, [but we always find plenty of time to overeat] appears to be the main culprit for almost everything in the modern world. As long as we can find something or someone else to blame the problem is out of our control and someone else can fix it. WRONG

The problem is our responsibility, we have let it happen and only we can fix it.

The only way I believe we can fix the problem of childhood obesity is to lead by example.

How can we expect our children to live a healthy active life and eat sensibly if they see us doing the complete opposite? What type of example have we been setting for our own children? We have become an overindulging lazy society where the more we have and the less we do the better. Some people smoke to excess, drink to excess, eat to excess, laze around to excess, gamble to excess, and expect their children to turn out perfect. Monkey see, monkey do! Our children whether we like it or not are more often than not a product of how we have raised them, the values we have taught them and the habits we have installed in them. When we as parents take full responsibility for the outcome of our siblings I believe we will be on the right path to turning around the childhood obesity problem. As long as we continue to blame, the problem will continue to grow. We have to fix the problem and not wait for anyone else to.

It must start with us, leading by example.

I fully understand that each family has it’s own unique set of circumstances, problems and day to day stresses that have to be dealt with. I can hear a few of you saying “but you don’t understand my situation is….”

No one is exempt from trying to provide the best possible care for their family. Don’t see it as a hopeless situation, try to find an answer no matter how difficult it may seem.

Most people have a fairly basic understanding of what healthy eating is. Most people have a basic understanding of what exercises are beneficial. For most people it is not the knowledge that is the problem it is the doing of the knowledge that is the problem. Knowledge is useless unless acted upon.

There are a lot of people who are still confused about sensible, healthy, nutritious eating commonly caused by the massive influx of misinformation through fad diets promising incredible results in ridiculous time.

Marketing companies don’t help either; they promote their products using popular athletic or celebrity figures convincing their fans that their product is the one to buy. They collect huge fees for their endorsements and I doubt whether they actually use the products themselves.

I know for most families the services of a qualified Dietitian or Personal Trainer seem financially out of reach. But the money saved long term from healthy eating will more than cover the cost of a professional. Junk food and eating out regularly is more expensive in the long term, not just on your pocket but also on the health of your family. It’s an investment in the health of your family and what could be more important.

A good dietitian or personal trainer has already sorted through the misinformation and can design a healthy eating and exercise program for every member of your family. They can help you with educating family members [especially the difficult ones] and provide support, help with goals and motivation, ensuring a positive out come.

What are you waiting for, start today on your quest for a healthier family and “save our children”