COMMENTARY| The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, or so we’ve heard for years. It’s a generalization, of course, but most axioms that persist contain a grain of truth. As it turns out, apples and grains might just be part of the solution to nipping childhood obesity in the bud: A recent study indicates that if parents work on their weight, their kids are more likely to become healthier and, yes, less likely to be obese.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to most folks. For years we’ve heard it’s important to model the behavior we wish to see in our youngsters… it goes to follow that the same applies where their diet is concerned.
The study, made in conjunction with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the University of Minnesota, looked at the habits and environment surrounding obese kids. Kerri N. Boutelle, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry from UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, notes that parents’ own weight loss “was the most important predictor of child weight loss.”
It makes sense. If parents eat more salads instead of french fries, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and keep healthy snacks instead of Cheetos in the kitchen, their kids will learn from their example. More than that, if Mom and Dad emphasize that healthy living is fun and preferable to wheezing and sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is having fun, their children are more likely to adapt similar viewpoints. They’ll see their parents as success stories, and, the way children do, will learn from their parents’ example. Unfortunately, it works with negative behaviors, too.