Family Dinners Help Fight Obesity
Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Family Dinners Help Fight Obesity
Sadly, the problem with obesity in America doesn't seem to be going away and is not even improving. The latest data shows that adult obesity rates rose in 23 states in 2009 and the trend seems to be continuing in 2010.
Obesity and the problems associated with it -- type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and more -- begin in childhood. If we can't change our children's eating and exercise habits we have no hope of stemming the tide of ongoing obesity. By 2020, the headlines might read, "Obesity rising in all 50 states" with the majority of the population dealing with this crisis.
In that vein, we must begin modeling better eating habits for our children by returning to the idea of family meals. Family meals were the "norm" when I was growing up. We were fortunate to have breakfast and dinner at home each day and were expected to be present for those meals. I know it was hard for my mother to do this, as she worked when I was young, and my father traveled a great deal of the time.
The good thing about preparing meals these days is that the grocery stores have made it quite easy for even a very busy family to be able to prepare a "home cooked" meal. All of the chains have rotisserie chickens available and also offer prepackaged items such as meat loaf, pre-made hamburger patties, or fish filets. Salads are also prepackaged and you can even buy fruit already cut up.
I'm "thrifty" and don't mind making my own hamburger patties or cutting up fruit, but picking up a chicken on the way home from work is often a quick way to begin a dinner. The chicken can be used in a salad or as a main course. We parents just have to be a little more inclined to drive to the grocery store rather than the fast food restaurant.
I'm still convinced that our children will eat what we prepare and gather together for meals if that becomes the norm once again. Our kids are busy, too, and they will appreciate knowing that dinner will be there every night, and that it will be healthy. Leading by example is the best way to begin. We can't afford not to try.
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