Have you seen families where the parents are a bit overweight but their small children are already obese?
This is a tale-tell sign that the parents grew up with normal diets but at some point they switched to more unhealthy lifestyle. And because of genes their kids are now paying for the current unhealthy choices.
How one can break that cycle and motivate the children to lose weight?
It all starts with the parents. The first step to motivating a child to adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle is to educate the parents. The parents bring the food home. If the choices are healthy then everyone in the family will eat better.
It does not need to begin with switching all the chips and hotdogs with broccoli and brussels sprouts. The first steps have to be easy to implement and follow. Most importantly, the first steps must address the sugar consumption in the family.
Added sugar is the largest contributor to excess calories in the Western diet. Therefore, a drastic sugar reduction has to become the main goal for weight control. Sugar is addictive and at the beginning may be difficult to give up.
A great starting point in the battle against sugar are articles that discuss sugar effects on human health. National Geographic in their August, 2013 issue published such an article appropriately titled “Sugar”. The author convincingly argues in support of the theory that all modern ailments, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular impairments and type 2 diabetes, are result of excess sugar consumption. Older children can read this article themselves. If one adopts that view the battle against sugar is half-won.
The next step is to implement a plan for reduction of sugar consumption. The American Heart Association recommends daily intake of 9 tsp. of sugar for men and 6 tsp. of sugar for women. One teaspoon of sugar equals 4.2 grams. This means that the average adult male should eat no more than 38 g of sugar per day and the average adult female should not exceed 25 g. Parents should use these guidelines to let their children know what is the maximum amount of sugar they can consume each day.
Armed with a number, it will become very easy to read labels and check for sugar content. There is a power in that number. The number will stop the parents from buying that coke with the whopping amount of 76 g of sugar. The number will motivate the children to choose regular milk instead of chocolate milk with their school lunch. The number will motivate the family to find less sugary substitutes to the overly sugary treats that lurk in the pantry.
Once the sugar consumption is under control, the weight will go down and will provide further motivation for eating a healthier diet overall.