Fast food is not to blame for childhood obesity, poor eating habits learned in children's home are, says a new study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The study entitled, 'The Association of Fast Food Consumption with Poor Dietary Outcomes and Obesity Among Children: is it The Fast Food of the Remainder of the Diet?' was lead by Barry Popkin, the W.R Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at UNC's Gillings School of Public Health and was publsihed in the latest issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers for the study found that while fast food does contribute to unhealthy children, the main culprit for childhood obesity is learned dietary habits children observe at home. Science Daily reports that the poor eating patterns consist of drinking sugary drinks and eating processed foods as oppose to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
This study's conclusions are nothing new to those who follow the childhood obesity issue. And frankly, this stuff is common sense. Does it really come as a shock to anyone that parents who instill healthy food habits have healthier kids?
Look, if you want healthy kids, pay attention to them. Make them a meal. Sit down with them. Ask them about their day while they're munching on that quesadilla you just made (which takes less than 3 minutes…yes, I've timed myself). Play a board game with them after dinner or tell them to go find something to do instead of relying on the television (yes, I do let my kids watch cartoons but I have strict limitations). Put your kids to bed at an early hour. Kids need sleep. And for heaven's sake, try to occasionally eat a vegetable in front of your kids. I'm not going to lecture you on your food choices, but hey folks, let's remember that we as parents have a duty to our kids to lead by example.
These aren't difficult thing to do. At one time, these activities were considered pretty standard parenting responsibilities.
Yet today, in an age where the food nannies fail to shine a spotlight on individual behavior and personal choices (unless they want to take our choices away) and instead blame food manufacturers, fast food restaurants, large-sized sodas, commercials on television, silly cartoon mascots on cereal boxes, toys in Happy Meals, vending machines, school lunches, the evils of Big Food and certain ingredients, it's important that these studies exist to remind people that there's a much simpler way to tackle the childhood obesity issue: parents should start acting like parents. When trying to drive this point home, I've relied on studies that show the importance of parenting.
Here are just a few of my favorites:
Ohio State study shows parents must do three things to keep kids at a healthy weight: make sure kids get adequate sleep, sit down for family meals, and limit television.
Penn State University study reveals kids aren't eating vending machine snack foods at school, they're eating it at home.
Northwestern University study shows sleep matters: Parents who put their kids to bed at a reasonable hour are helping their kids stay healthy.
University of Kansas study on family habits: Healthier moms and dads produce healthier kids.
Australian study: Parents involved in weight loss efforts results in greater weight loss.