Healthlines: Our children come first



Alva Carpenter

Published — Wednesday 27 February 2013

Last update 27 February 2013 1:52 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Childhood obesity is not the fault of the child but of the adults who influence the child. Many doctors predict that this may be the first generation where we will see children dying before their parents. This is something that is hard to imagine but is this is due to an error in eating beliefs and practices.
Children today are growing up in a world that is changing very fast. Parents are busy: Often too busy with work stress and telephone calls to really take the time to be with their children and listen so that their children feel important and valued. Children's lives too have become over pressured by long hours of school, with hours of homework and too many examinations. It is very rare in England, even in the countryside, to see many children out playing in the woods and fields and getting exercise as we did when I was young. This is mainly due to the world being perceived as a very much more dangerous place for children.
In England children as young as six months are often left in the care of nurseries for long hours by their professional parents; sometimes for as long as 10 hours a day. Is this progress?
It is a well-studied fact that happy children who have had some degree of independence to play and explore go on to be far more successful than those who have been hot-housed in a classroom and closeted in their bedroom with their electronic games. There are many studies and plenty of expert opinions around but parents do need to think for themselves; and decide what is best for their own child to thrive and be healthy. Childhood is such a very short but important time and children should be encouraged to enjoy it.
The main causes of childhood obesity are poor eating habits; lack of physical activity; and insufficient sporting activity. If we feel that it is not safe for children to play outside then they need to be offered more physical activity at school to compensate. Sport should be part of the curriculum at schools not once or twice a week but every day. And parents should lobby for this.
Parents too should lead by example; children do not always do as we say but often copy what we do. If we eat junk food and spend our lives in front of screens they will grow up believing that that is how they should live their lives. Children should always feel they come first, not your career, and I always make it a point never to interrupt a conversation with my child to answer my phone. Children need at least one hour of physical activity per day to be healthy whereas adults need only thirty minutes.
Advertising has been used to make hamburgers and pizza appear as cool modern food for teenagers to be eating. American soaps show stars sitting on couches eating ice cream and chips and dips. There are so many habits of modern eating that are considered normal in the world that our children have grown up in that are not healthy. It is for grandparents and parents to educate their children on how healthy eating practices from the past compare with the factory processed food we now eat.
Portion sizes are also key to good health. Talk to your child about what is a normal portion size, as some children do not know. It is a difficult fact to get over to children as they have grown up with larger portions. This generation has grown up with the idea that a super-sized meal is good value for money. A mother, as the provider of food for the family, must think about how much food goes on to the table. If as a mother you put loads of food on the dinner table then your children will think they have the right to eat too much.
It is always important to make changes gradually over time and to be patient. If it has taken your child time to get into habits it will equally take time to get into new healthy eating habits.
The average restaurant meal is now four times larger than it was in the 1950s.
The average adult is now 26 pounds heavier than in the 1950s.
This is too big a subject to tackle in one article so please, if you are interested in helping your children to be more active please e-mail me at [email protected] for fact sheet on how to get your child more active.

Ask Alva
I am worried about my 16 year-old son’s weight and eating habits. Every evening while doing his homework he drinks two fizzy drinks, two packets of chips and a bar of chocolate and a packet of chewits.
— Samah

These are not good habits and they do have to change — these dietary choices put your child at increased risk for heart disease, Type II Diabetes, stroke and certain cancers in adult life.
I am sure that if you talk to your son sensibly about creating new healthy habits while having the occasional treat to look forward to he will listen and try to move toward healthier snacks. Decide together on one healthy snack and one evening treat.
Make sure you spend time with him in the evenings and discuss his homework and always have a family evening meal together where everyone gets the chance to talk about his or her day.
— Alva

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: A Saudi citizen was killed in shelling fired across the border from Yemen into the southwest of Saudi Arabia on Sunday, local media reported.A shell fell on a house around dawn in Najran province, civil defense department spokesman Ali bin Om...
JEDDAH: Female voters in Al-Ahsa have urged the authorities handling the municipal elections to drop the condition of presenting the national identity card while enrolling themselves in the voters’ list. Some women in Madinah too have appealed for mo...
JEDDAH: After the recent incident of a rat eating from a bowl at a well-known food outlet in a Jeddah mall came to light, residents have called for food hygiene ratings of restaurants and roadside eateries across the city.Although the municipality wo...
JEDDAH: A muezzin (one who recites the Adhaan) of a Riyadh mosque recently sprung a surprise in the Austrian tourist town of Zell am See by his Adhaan after taking permission from members of a musical band.Social media is abuzz with the news and vide...
RIYADH: A Sri Lankan national, who works as a cleaner in the Kingdom, was commended and rewarded by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) for returning a bag containing gold to its owner.“Prince Sultan bin Salman, president o...
RIYADH: Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Shahriar Alam arrived in Jeddah on Sunday to meet with his Saudi counterpart Nizar Madani on Monday.On arrival at the royal terminal, the minister was received by Director General of the...
RIYADH: A report of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage predicts the rate of growth in job opportunities in the country's tourism sector between 2010 and 2020 will be 10 percent a year as compared to a global growth rate of 2.5 per...
JEDDAH: Two million meningitis vaccines have been distributed among health centers in 20 governorates and provinces across the Kingdom for domestic Haj pilgrims.It is mandatory for all pilgrims to be vaccinated against meningitis and for those coming...
JEDDAH: The Makkah governorate has announced four new road projects linking Makkah and Jeddah. The new roads will facilitate smoother and faster travel between the cities.An estimated 35 million people will benefit from the projects, which will inclu...
JEDDAH: A major disaster is waiting to happen in the fish market of Madinah because of the callous attitude of traders toward handling of gas cylinders. A visit to the market presents a dreadful picture of cylinders kept on top of each other without...
JEDDAH: Information and Culture Minister Adel Al-Toraifi has approved the appointment of Khalid Bo-Ali as editor in chief of the Eastern Province-based Alsharq Arabic newspaper. He was nominated for the post by the board of directors of the newspaper...
JEDDAH: Jamil Farsi, head of the Gold and Jewelry Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), says he expects 3,000 job opportunities to be created for Saudi women in the jewelry design and gold sector across the Kingdom, with ab...
JEDDAH: More than 50 visually challenged people successfully performed Umrah with the help of the Ebsar Foundation for the Visually Impaired and the Ambassadors of Volunteers organization under their program “Umrah for the visually impaired,” which w...
JEDDAH: Although the Ministry of Labor is opening its doors to receive complaints from private sector employees, many Saudi females employed in cosmetic and perfume shops in Madinah are not making complaints about being overworked due to fear of losi...
JEDDAH: Health Minister Dr. Khaled Al-Falih is set to increase the number of beds in all private sector hospitals, as per new implementation regulations adopted this year.The move will help address the problem of delays in public sector projects, as...

Stay Connected

Facebook