A review of studies has shown that millions and millions of dollars spent on nutrition education for children in schools and even the few advertisements for healthy foods on TV are not helping kids change their eating habits away from the junk that is so pervasive.
The most telling comment in the article is a quote by a pediatrician who said that basically parents need "to get religion" about all aspects of healthy lifestyles in order for children to avoid obesity or reverse it. I can completely relate to that comment! After my childhood cancer experience, my parents decided to learn everything they could about nutrition and even became early subscribers to Prevention Magazine in the 1950's! My family (myself and 3 brothers) ate very differently growing up than all my friends (for example - I never saw white bread until I went to high school and ate lunch at school for the first time - we only ate whole wheat bread way back then!). We were all active (my dad made sure that we all had the skills for what he called a lifetime sport, which was tennis), he had us doing physical fitness type of exercises at night along with our homework in the evening, we ran around the block as many times as we could in the evening, too. I took all that lifetime of habits and used them with my family, too.
So why my worry?
The number of overweight and obese children is staggering, appalling, and heart-wrenching, plus getting larger every year. If these children do not die of heart-disease or complications of diabetes at ages that are way too young, they are set-ups for any one of many different cancer diagnoses that are increased with overweight and obesity (post-menopausal breast cancer endometrial cancer, kidney, colon, gall bladder, and prostate). And I can them all from experience that they don't want to deal with any one of those if they don't have to!
I don't know the answer(s) to solving this childhood overweight/obesity problem, and make no mistake, it is a huge problem with staggering emotional and economic fall-out to come. The answers are certainly multi-faceted and still to be determined.
However, as my younger son is beginning his teaching career as a middle school science teacher (he is "the outdoor/science guy" - they loved him in his interview for many reasons, including the fact that he asked about their School Wellness Policies, school gardens, and getting urban kids into the outdoors), I am widening the scope of my vision beyond cancer survivorship to begin thinking more than I have in the past about cancer prevention. I'll keep you posted as I think more about this problem and help my son figure out what options he has in his position to help the next generation learn the connections between their knowledge, behavior, and their current and future health.
You may click on the title of my blog posting to view the entire article. (I think I have figured out how to do this - hope, hope!)
Diana Dyer, MS, RD