According to the Herald Sun article, parents who cave in to their child’s “fussy eating” demands contribute to weight problems, with some mothers cooking up to three different family meals for dinner. While children have always been selective in what foods they eat, it has now reached a stage where dinner tables resemble more of an a la carte restaurant. But rather than allowing children to rule dinner time, new research and dietitians urge parents to take control to stop their kids’ weight gain. Parents can be the most effective tool for treating child obesity, with US researchers finding overweight kids can lose weight through the behaviour of their parents.
This is farily obvious stuff. Jennifer O’Dea who is Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Health Education at the University of Sydney sums it up best in her article last year in Nutrition and Dietetics. She says “Recent research suggests that parents are still considered by children and adolescents to be the gatekeepers of the family food supply and that parents act as important role models for children’s eating behaviours.”
She is right. There are plenty of contributing factors to obesity. There are plenty of possible solutions including bans, special taxes, legislation, and advertising campaigns. But surely the ultimate way to promote healthy eating (and exercise and sleep patterns) is via parents. If parents believe in the benefits of healthy food, and are prepared to overcome factors such as cost, time in preparation, pressure from children, and lack of convenience, we will start to see progress.
Parental authority, and example, will be the best place to start towards a solution.