Weighing Up in 2015

Weighing Up in 2015

Globally, about 42 million children under the age of five, according the World Health Organisation (WHO) are overweight or obese. That’s just 2 million short of DOUBLE Australia’s current population.

Obesity in children and adolescents is a major concern. Not only does it prevail short-term health and social problems, but it also increases their risk of long-term health burdens like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases that may arise during childhood and continue with them into adulthood.

It is a condition were excess body fat accumulates when the energy intake from food and drink is greater than the energy expended through physical activity over an extended period of time.

These rates are commonly measured using the body mass index (BMI) weight-to-height ratio, which has been around since the 1840s. While for adults the number on the scale and the BMI ratio is no longer the best indicator of health as it doesn’t measure body fat percentage, it is still the only way we can and are measuring our kids’.

For 10 year-olds overweight is defined as a BMI of 19.84 or more for boys and 19.86 for girls, with obesity defined as a BMI of 24.00 or more for boys and 24.11 or more for girls.

The epidemic has been on an upward trajectory since the 1970s, when poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle became common place due to the availability of fast food.

Changes to family structure and dynamics began to take place, such as women beginning to work more and work hours in general began to increase. As a result, parents were busier and began spending less time with their kids. Coming home late meant parents couldn’t prepare homemade meals, so fast food did the trick. Time-poor parents replaced expensive fruit, veggies and nutrient dense meals for quick snacks and pre-prepared meals.

From 1985 to 1995, the prevalence of overweight and obese children among 5–17 year-olds tripled to 20% in boys and 21.5% in girls, which mean’t in 1995 1 in 5 children were considered overweight or obese.

According to the stats, unfortunately signs are emerging suggesting obesity is developing at younger ages as the years go by.

Between 1995-2008, Childhood obesity rates climbed even higher, indicating that 1 in 4 children between the ages of 5-17 years-old are overweight or obese.

Luckily since this survey conducted by Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity, these figures have plateaued and in 2015 remain stable. However, this figure is still alarming and changes need to be made.

So, what can we do?

We need to educate kids and parents about:
– Portion sizes
– Meal planning
– ‘Always’ vs ‘sometimes’ foods
– A balanced diet
– What is actually in junk and fast foods and what it does to our bodies?
– How do healthy foods benefit our bodies and brains?
– How to cook healthy food from scratch
– The importance of eating meals as a family

Our current food system is doing our kids a disservice. We need to be strong as individuals, as families, as communities and as a nation to demand the transparency we want to see in our food system.

Fresh fruit and veg need to be more accessible and sold for cheaper than processed foods, we need to tax sugar, junk food companies and fast food stores and ban any unhealthy food advertising towards kids.

Schools need to hop on board and create community gardens, implement fun compulsory cooking classes and sell only healthy foods over the canteen counter.

A lot of children get their habits from home, which is why this is the MOST important place to start making positive changes. We should be creating a supportive environment at home for our kids, free of ‘sometimes’ unhealthy foods and packed full of colourful, healthy and fresh produce. Slice, dice, mix and bake these nutrient dense foods and create beautiful home cooked meals that can be shared by the whole family around the dining table.

This is what will pull those figures down, this is what we need to be doing so our kids can be set up for life with the right skills and the right habits for a healthy future.

A QUESTION FOR YOU: Where do you see our obesity rates and food system in 2025? I want to hear from you. COMMENT your thoughts below.

x Leah

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Put An End To Junk Food Cravings

Put An End To Junk Food Cravings

Junk food is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity and can increase your risk of developing diabetes, dementia, heart disease and respiratory problems in adulthood.

So how can we avoid these horrible health problems? By stopping what is making us want junk food so bad. Cravings.

What is it about nutrient-void, calorie high junk food that is so addicting we just can’t help but crave them?

Foods like chocolate and lollies that are high in sugar or hot chips and crisps that are high in salt and saturated fat are made to make you feel good. The reason being they increase your serotonin levels which gives you pleasure and makes you feel calm and relaxed in return.

Junk foods are also designed to trick your brain into thinking your body is receiving the right nutrients. They feed you just enough calories so your brain registers it is getting some energy but not too much so your brain doesn’t register you are full. The result is you end up craving these foods and usually tend to overeat.

While they may trick you into feeling good in the short-term, don’t be fooled. Junk food is highly processed and contains large amounts of carbohydrates, added sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt offering little to no nutritional value to your body. They feed your body things it isn’t made to digest and leads to one putting on weight, increasing their chances of becoming obese.

In the long-term junk food has detrimental affects on your body and brain. Chocolate and greasy fast foods are your skin’s worst nightmare contributing to acne and skin irritations. Sugary foods like cookies, ice cream, juices, doughnuts and lollies are detrimental to your teeth, strenuous on your organs, can contribute to depression and affect your memory and your brain’s ability to learn.

So, how can you kick these junk food cravings?

Well thankfully, the less junk food you eat, the less you crave it. So, help curb those cravings today by getting to know the right healthy food alternative for your body. Here is a list of the popular foods people crave, and their healthy substitutes:

food cravings

By Leah