I had a funny experience last night. I was talking to one of my sister’s on the phone, whilst trying to carry a washing basket full of clothes up two flights of stairs. With my pendulous (38 week) belly and the weight of the washing, I really struggled not to pant like a dog. She chuckled and asked if I was alright? “Don’t make fun of the pregnant woman!” I yelled.
Most nights now, I feel like a beached whale as I try to roll over in bed or negotiate a more comfortable position. It really is such an effort to just roll over.
Some days I find my walks up and down the mountain so laborious, I have to wonder how people who are over-weight or obese, survive?.
And that’s just it I guess, they are just surviving!!!!
Statistics now tell us that;
· There are well over 1 billion overweight adults world wide and at least three hundred million obese1. That’s right; currently we have over 300 million people who are obese.
· The 2002 Harris Poll estimated that 1/3 of Americans are obese2.
That’s a 1/3 of 293 million people – that’s 98 million Americans !!!!
· 2004-2005 Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey shows that 62% of men and 45% of Australian women are overweight or obese3.
· While 1/5 of Australian children are in the same predicament4.
Western cultures should be the healthiest in the world. We are known to:
1. spend the most on health care
2. have the best medical technology at our fingertips
Why are we allowing ourselves to become so unhealthy?
As parents today we can become proactive by learning more about health and teaching our children the art of being healthy. Many of our older generations were never taught to invest in their health and have always relied on their GP’s to tell them how to approach their ailments, rather than empowering themselves with knowledge.
Now it appears that with our own generation, advancements in our level of comfort and technology are resulting in serious and detrimental impacts on our children’s health.
For example, with the increasing demand for pre-packaged items, some of our children self limit their diet to such an extent they refuse to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. With the appeal of the “technology world”, many children participate in absolutely no physical activity unless they are enrolled to do so through school activities.
Examples of society’s conditioning surround us all.
One girlfriend who’s family live in America says that they often mock her for not buying “Deb’s” pre-packaged mashed potato. Exclaiming, “Well why on earth honey, would you actually make mashed potato?”
Another Mum shared with me that since seeing other kids eating fresh fruit at school her daughter has since tried eating some fresh apple and grapes at “fruit” time, rather than just nibbling on sultanas.
Each day as parents we are able to help our children foster an attitude of wonder and awe for their very own “clever little bodies”. The amazing vessel that heals their wounds, digests their food, enables them to learn new concepts, strengthens their muscles and provides them with energy.
Children are not born being fussy eaters, nor are they resistant to physical exercise, unless of course they are physically unwell. We consciously or unconsciously, condition our children with the family culture we have towards health from the time they are babies, it is what we teach and promote to them.
As with all things it comes back to what we promote, promote, promote! Focusing on the medicinal value of food and living by example.
When it comes to food, the boys know that Simon and I have a pretty firm policy, what we put in front of them they must eat. We encourage them to contemplate what foods they offer their body and the effects they have.
The boy’s diet is not 100% organic. Just like other kids, they make requests for this (junky tuck-shop lunch orders) and that (McDonalds), and when it works in with us we allow them some small liberties. Life is all about experiences and what we make those experiences mean for our family. There is rich learning to be had even as they try to stomach a plastic processed hamburger.
Yours in Health,
Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani
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GLOBAL STRATEGY ON DIET, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND HEALTH