When you think of the perfect American Family, Leave it to Beaver may come to mind. Dinner time was family time, and consisted of home cooked meals. But fast forward to 2010, in more cases than not, both parents are working and home cooked meals are replaced by take out and fancy frozen foods. Every night, dinner can be a battle between what kids want, and what parents want. Playtime with friends gets replaced with time playing Wii.
Take the Pipe family for example. “It’s definitely not the dinnertime of yesteryear, a lot of times my husband isn’t here for dinner. The girls eat early,” says mother of two, Jenn Pipe. So it’s not wonder kids in this day and age are bigger ever. The CDC says American Society has become “Obese-ogenic”, characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, non-healthful foods and physical inactivity. Need further proof? The international obesity task force estimated that more than 35% of American children ages 6 to 17 exceeded their ideal body weight. “I think the weight issue is the major issue we’re seeing with kids these days. I think that their diets genrally have too much fat in them and sugar and they don’t get enough exercise,” says Dr. Joanne Cox from Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Cox says you don’t have to model your family after the Cleavers to keep your kids fit. While she says it is important to have at least one meal together a day, she recognizes it’s not always possible and offers other simple suggestions to get on a healthy track.
First and foremost, she says, cut out the juice and fruit flavored vitamin waters, even if says 100% juice, it’s still loaded with sugar. “I think the most common habit that becomes a problem for kids is they start drinking juice very early in their and that continues and that often leads to obesity early on,” Dr. Cox says. Stay away from the attractive pre-packaged foods. Give your kids fresh fruits and veggies instead, and keep junk food out of the cupboard. If it’s there they will eat it. Another big one, limit the amount of TV your kids watch and the amount of video games they play. It’s important for kids to go outside and be active. “Parents need to model behaviors for kids,” Dr. Cox says.
Jenn Pipe says she does the best she can to set a good example, but admits it may be tough to break some bad habits.