Parental Effects on Obesity
Research has shown that parents have a huge influence over their children becoming obese. While it is true that heredity plays a part in obesity, there are sociological and behavioral issues that seem to plague some families.
Quality Time With Children
Have you ever wondered why obesity rates are lower for young children and higher for older teenagers? Research has shown that the more time you spend with your child the lower the risk for obesity and that parents spend about 50% less time with teenagers than with their small children. Around the time children get really busy in school, obesity rates tend to rise (13-15 year olds).
It is important to emphasize that the time must be of high quality. Parents that bring negativity into the home or that are stressed out will actually be “promoting” their children's obesity.
In most homes, the mother prepares the meals. If the mother has a swing shift that puts her out of the home during meal times, it is much more likely that dad or someone else will feed the children fast food or junk food.
Research shows that when the mother has control over her work schedule that the rate of obesity goes down. This makes sense because once the mother can't prepare meals properly less healthy choices occur more frequently.
It takes time to prepare meals, follow recipes, and really cook. Many families are strained so much that meals are poorly planned. In this situation, people tend to resort to frozen packaged foods and fast food. People will consume more calories and more saturated fat (linked to heart disease). Parents that have the proper time and organization skills to plan meals have children that are less prone to obesity.
Dual Income Households
Over 90% of households have dual incomes. That means that both parents must work to make ends meet. Over 50% of these households are living paycheck to paycheck. These lower 50% are in low status jobs that are strenuous. They are worn out and that leads them to make poor choices to save time and effort. Income statistics clearly show obesity linked to low income. Don't make the assumption that the poor are just intellectually inferior. Most people know that deep fried chicken and french fries are not a healthy way to eat. If you grow up poor, it's much harder to change because you may have to overcome eating habits learned in childhood.
The best thing a parent can do is to set a good example. If your child sees you eat properly, they will likely follow. Sugar and especially soda should be severely restricted. Eating out should be done rarely at healthier restaurants. Fast food should be completely avoided. There should be a vegetable and/or fruit at every meal.