Childhood obesity rates continue to climb, fueling increased rates of diabetes (one in three kids born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime), heart disease, strokes, disability, blindness and dementia. When a pre-diabetic woman conceives, she genetically confers elevated diabetes risk for generations. Sadly, we are seeing “adult-onset” diabetes in kids as young as 8 years old.
Health is a treasure that warrants our stewardship, discipline and lifelong vigilance. Healthy lives begin before birth, but taking positive steps at any time can rapidly improve health. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that eliminating three risk factors—poor diet, inactivity and smoking—would prevent 80 percent of heart disease and stroke; 80 percent of type 2 diabetes; and 40 percent of cancer.
But healthy diets are difficult in our obesogenic world, full of addictive foods and fast food temptations.
Just following a few nutritional basics can have tremendous impact on lifelong health:
Avoid feeding sweet addictions. Just say no to any sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks. Period. High fructose corn syrup and most artificial sweeteners dramatically increase the risk for diabetes and obesity. Kicking the soda/juice habit also saves money and reduces your family’s exposure to the obesity-promoting toxins like BPa from plastic bottles and can-liners.
I’ll never forget a mom who brought Costco cupcakes to a middle school volleyball game, where each child burned 150 calories at most. Each cupcake contained a whopping 760 calories, 34 grams of fat, and 109 grams of carbs—nearly a full day’s allotment. She meant well, but this is an example of poisons being inflicted on your kids with every birthday and sporting event, school snack sale, etc.
Also, Gatorade is not a health food. Fresh filtered water is the only hydration kids need, unless doing endurance sports (most electrolyte drinks are just candy and artificial coloring in a cup).
Eating fresh, unprocessed, plant-based foods and teaching kids to shop, grow and prepare fresh food while staying active daily will dramatically impact the course of their future health and that of generations to come.
Dr. Susan Wilder