--> Getting It Right: Why are kids getting fatter?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Why are kids getting fatter?

Kids are getting fat in BC. Heck, our whole baby-boomer skewed population is getting fatter – but the growing tummies under the Spiderman t-shirts among the school-age set is particularly troubling.

This is simply not just an aesthetic issue. By letting our kids eat too much of the wrong things and not get the exercise they should be having we are setting them up for a lifetime of completely preventable, potential health problems including diabetes, heart disease and various cancers.

The question that this epidemic of chubbiness raises is should we be doing something to reduce the inevitable crisis for the public health care system – or do we leave nutrition and activity decisions to parents?

During the election campaign, the BC Liberals promised to eliminate junk food from BC schools within four years. Most school districts in this province, with the exception of Vernon, Okanagan and now this week, Abbotsford, bring in additional funds for sports teams or extra-curricular activities with vending machines stocked with chips, pop and chocolate bars.

School districts know that children shouldn’t be eating this stuff – and many are taking steps to explore funding of their athletic teams or class trips with alternatives including water, juice, and fruit bars.

But this is only one element of the problem. While I applaud schools for the work that they are doing to reduce access to these foods during the day, what else should we be doing to help our kids step away from their computer games and put down the cookie jars?

Is this something that we leave to parents? They are their kids after all – and most of us don’t take kindly to governments pushing propaganda on how to live our lives.

If you are like me, you believe that people are perfectly capable of making the right choices about their lives – given full and complete information. We don’t need governments to ban certain “bad” foods and we don’t need governments to institute mandatory daily exercise sessions.

This is one of the worst aspects of universal health care – parents aren’t confronted with the financial consequences of their unwillingness to deal with their kids’ fat problems. If they had to assume the full cost of caring for their child’s expensive diabetes or heart disease crisis, they might think twice about filling up their grocery carts with convenient, but potentially health-threatening, foods.

Because, at the bottom of it all, parents need to take responsibility for their kids’ health –we can’t leave it to the schools and we can’t leave it to government.

While we no longer throw our kids out the door at 9am and tell them to be back for dinner at 6pm, like when we were kids in earlier, safer times, we can make choices that will keep them healthy. We can have walks after dinner, choose fruit and yogurt over cookies and cakes, and turn the TV off – at our house we’re just coming off a successful TV-free June, so I know it can be done.

Government’s role should be to educate, but it is parents who need to get off their butts, remind themselves that pizza and fast food are treats not staples, and re-acquaint their kids with fruits and vegetables.

None of us want to see our entire public health care system crash under the weight of our fat kids.

(As published today in 24 Hours Daily)


At 12:07 p.m., Blogger Canadi-anna said...

The lack of exercise is the biggest problem.
My oldest daughter was pointing out to me that in newer subdivisions where we live, there are no sidewalks. Most parents of youngish kids are not keen to let their kids walk or play on the road and the lack of sidewalks means just one less place to play.
The spreading of the suburbs also means that there are fewer places within walking distance.
Worst of all, all of my children complain that when a kid does something 'wrong' in class, the favourite punishment of the teachers is to take away gym.

At 8:36 p.m., Blogger Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

Yes, kids are getting fatter.
Yes, it's because they eat more food and exercise less.
No, people aren't like you. Many can't make the right decisions about food and exercise. they've fallen under the spell of consumersim and have no understanding of what a healthy lifestyle actually looks like. So it's not unrealistic to expect a benevolent government to act on behalf of the populace and ban certain items and encourage other activities that would ultimately result in a fitter, healthier population. This would, in turn, allow for the health care system to function more efficiently.

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Children with ADHD

There is a perplexing state of affairs in today's society, there lies a strong correlation between the affluence of a society and the amount of disease that is present. There is also another correlation that troubles many a people and that is with affluence comes disease at an Earlier age.

Working with children and the parents of these children I often get asked the question, 'Why are Children with ADHD on the increase?'

The answer as you shall find is one that is both interesting and challenging.

Children of today are really no more different from the children of yesterday in terms of genetic makeup. However, if you examine the issue more closely you will tend to find that many children today have been given labels. For example, 'Oh, those are children with ADHD' or 'Those are the children who can't sit still.' Or 'That is the kid that always gets into trouble.'

These labels are not only destructive but also become a self fulfilling prophecy as it is repeated adnauseum.

So as a 21st century parent or a parent with a child with ADHD or a parent with children with ADHD, what knowledge framework do you need to equip yourself with to ensure your children live out their true potential?

Here is a quick reference list for thinking about ADHD
� ADHD is a source of great frustration because it is misunderstood
� ADHD medications are a great short term time buying device and should be avoided long term
� The above point goes for any sort of drug consumption. Think about it for a minute. Unless you have a biochemical deficiency in your body like Type 1 diabetes where your body fails to produce enough insulin or any at all, why would you take an external drug? A body that is in balance is totally healthy. It is only when the body is out of balance that dis-ease symptoms start to creep up.
� ADHD is a biochemical imbalance of the mind and body.
� The Head of Psychiatry in Harvard states that drugs for ADHD simply mask the effects of ADHD. It does not cure ADHD. This is an important point because a cure implies never to have to take the medication. This means that once you start on medication you will have to be on it for the rest of your life i.e. you have medically acquired a dependency for a biochemical imbalance. That is like stuffing all your rubbish (problematic behaviors) into a closet (medication) where no one can see it. But if you continue to stuff more rubbish into that closet, one day you will not have enough space and need to do one of two things. You either empty the rubbish (the natural conclusion) or you get a bigger closet (i.e. change to stronger medication to control the symptoms). The choice is obvious but sometimes when you don't have the necessary tools to deal with ADHD you tend to think the bigger closet is the only option.
� ADHD children are super sensitive to the emotions around them. Often they pick up emotional cues from their parents without realizing. Many parents come home frustrated or annoyed from work, the child with ADHD picks this up and starts to 'cause trouble' by becoming restless. Parents frustration increase because they just want some peace and quiet. They get angry which in turn is picked up by the child who then intensifies their activity. Things get way out of hand and some sort of punishment is handed down to the child who has no idea what just happened. The cycle repeats itself every so often.
� Our brains are wired emotionally. Positive praise is interpreted as an analytical/thinking exercise. Negative criticism including scolding, name calling, physical punishment all go directly to the emotional brain of children with ADHD. This means in order to ensure you get your message across in the most optimal way, you need to learn how to communicate with your ADHD children the way they like to be communicated with.
� Every negative comment requires 16 positive comments to neutralize the emotion. Save yourself the frustration and agitation by practicing positive communication.

The list is by no means complete. In dealing with children with ADHD there are a certain set of behavioural principles to follow. I will detail these steps in the coming weeks. I'll also build on the list as you continue to learn about what appears to be a mystical disorder known as 'Children with ADHD'

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