Children's Nutrition - How Do You Deal With It?

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Compared to the past, more people are overweight. This starts at a young age. One says that it is because both parents work and children are spoiled too much these days. The other blames the parents' lack of knowledge about healthy food. Yet it also seems that parents and children are being misled by the advertising and their own ideas. Prevention is a matter of patience. Just how do you handle it?

Sports drinks not intended for children

Sometimes you see athletes walking with a water bottle, support socks or a bottle of sports drink just after the game or at halftime. Athletes with fancy compression stockings are seen as role models and in the eyes of the public they are very well supervised in everything they do and the nutritional care is optimal. What an athlete eats and drinks must be very healthy, so sports drinks are too, according to the public. However, sports drinks are intended for competitive and top athletes and not for children. They contain a lot of sugar, but athletes use a lot of energy if they are engaged in their sport for several hours in a row. This was discussed again in a lot of newspapers lately. Parents who give their child sports drinks are therefore not doing a healthy job, but this is often due to a lack of knowledge. In addition, it is also important to set limits to children of what is and is not allowed.

Cycling and walking is very healthy

Anyone who has walked or cycled past a primary school in the morning or afternoon has undoubtedly noticed that many parents take their children to and from school by car. However, most children attend a primary school that is within walking or cycling distance of their home. For road safety reasons, it may be desirable for a parent to accompany the child to show the child what to watch out for in traffic. Moreover, the parent immediately sets a good example by bridging short distances on foot or by bicycle.

A child who goes to secondary education can usually do this by bicycle. Yet I was once asked by a mother whether it was child abuse to have her thirteen-year-old daughter cycle a total of 22 km to and from school every day. I replied that it is doable for the girl to cycle such a distance, especially with the quality of bicycles today. But it can be even crazier with 'vulnerable children'.

Creative solutions wanted

Obesity is difficult to tackle because the problem has multiple causes. In order to increase the chance of success of a prevention activity, it is necessary that the target group is involved in the intervention from the start. In the ideal situation, the target group thinks along about the topics to be treated, the possible barriers that they experience when tackling the problem, how the intervention is carried out and they themselves are also made responsible for the success of the intervention.

Both parents and children should be involved in the prevention of overweight and obesity in children. The cooperation of schools, community centers and sports associations is also necessary, because prevention of overweight is a matter of everybody.

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