Helping an overweight child lose weight is hard, emotionally charged, and feels like an uphill battle. But seeing an overweight child struggle with being teased or feel shame about their body is even more painful. It’s doubly hard because early weight gain and obesity set children up for a lifetime of struggle. Avoiding weight gain seems simple; most of us know the Do’s and Don’ts (at least for adults):
- Do eat mostly plants, get enough sleep, exercise every day, meditate, and have loving relationships.
- Don’t eat too much, don’t eat unhealthy food including processed food, refined sugars, and too much meat, don’t smoke, get overwhelmed by stress, or get angry often.
Follow the dos and you’ll greatly improve your chances of avoiding the three most prevalent and expensive chronic diseases: heart disease, cancer and diabetes. You’ll reduce your likelihood of depression. You’ll look and feel younger. You may even ward off dementia. This works for adults and children.
Seems simple, right? So why isn’t everyone doing it?
Industry marketing is one reason why so many of us are fat, sick or both. Helping your child lose weight involves reducing media exposure at home and at school.
Fast food companies spend $4.6 billion a year on marketing. Soda companies spend $7.2 billion a year. Alcohol – certainly a junk food – spends $2.05 billion. That’s a total of $13.8 billion convincing us to eat and drink badly.
Meanwhile, US schools spend just $8 billion a year on textbooks. It’s no wonder we as a country are so miseducated about health. As a first step, parent-teacher associations need to ask how junk food companies are marketing to students in their school.
We get far more messages to eat junk food than real food. And most messages target children, especially minority children.
When was the last time you saw an advertisement for broccoli? How parents follow all the “dos”? When was the last time your doctor recommend you become vegan, despite the fact that vegans are the only lifestyle group that enjoys, on average, a healthy BMI (see point 5 here)?
Meanwhile, consider how many times today you’ve seen the golden arches or come across an alcohol advertisement.
As a result, kids who eat healthy are considered extreme, while kids who routinely damage their health are considered normal.
Food and alcohol companies have successfully convinced us that “food is fun.” We have Ice cream or alcohol for celebrations; we reward ourselves with yummy desserts. Anyone abstaining from junk foods, meat, alcohol, and processed foods is derided as a health nut or an extremist.
Help your child lose weight by rebelling against a toxic food culture.
It’s time to tune out all the marketing messages and become a rebel. Don’t be afraid to offend people by insisting your family eat healthy, plant-based foods. Skip the burgers and bacon. Spend less on alcohol, meat, and processed foods and more on fresh fruits and vegetables.
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