FAMILY: Families combat childhood obesity

Healthier lifestyles begin at home, with diet and physical activity

There’s a growing – and dangerous – health trend that is hurting our society at a very core level, according to Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer for Island Health.

It’s not actually a “trend.” Not in the way we normally think of them, anyway. It’s not a specific food that’s hot right now (like 2014’s kale obsession) or an exercise plan that’s catching hold (like yoga), but it’s a combination of factors that are leading to a systemic and societal obesity problem.

Stanwick says obesity is as big a health issue globally these days as starvation.

When he was in medical school, they “didn’t even need to know about Type-2 diabetes,” he says. “We’d just never be tested on it, because we’d never see it. Now we’re seeing it diagnosed in kids, and they’re having operations in their 20s and sometimes we’re attending their funerals in their 30s.”

One main issue is we haven’t acknowledged how bad being overweight is for us. And how we get that way – with a sedentary, screen-obsessed lifestyle – is often just as dangerous.

“Some of the more disconcerting evidence shows that their parents don’t see their child as having a weight issue,” Stanwick says, “so we really have to enlist parents and make them see this is an serious situation. They don’t see it as being on par with other illnesses. It’s becoming acceptable.”

One of the best ways to address the issue within the family unit, he says, is to start incorporating and addressing healthier lifestyles – including both physical activity and diet – into our daily routines.

“It doesn’t need to be a Leave-it-to-Beaver-type scenario or a scene from some old 50s television show, but coming together as a family to prepare meals and have activities that engage us interactively is important.”

Making meals together as a family not only encourages healthier eating, as most foods prepared fresh at home are going to be far better for us physically. It can make us think about what we’re putting in our bodies and encourage healthier decision making, especially if we discuss with our kids where the food we’re preparing comes from.

“So many pre-prepared foods have sugar listed right at the top of their ingredients,” Stanwick says. “And we have no idea what goes into it, most of the time. The type of calorie-dense food that comes from the driver-thru window – we’re just not genetically equipped for that.”

The other obvious impact on obesity and weight issues is adding exercise to one’s day-to-day activities. This is especially important for children, according to Stanwick, because physical exercise is directly tied to intellectual development.

The interactivity of children’s play these days has been pushed aside in favour of screens and other sedentary activities, he says. He recommends families get outside and enjoy being together in a positive, activity-driven way.

But it doesn’t need to be a sudden, monumental shift in order to make a positive difference, Stanwick says.

“Make it one meal a week, to start, that you make together with fresh ingredients. Go for one walk a week as a family. I’m sure you’ll see a difference, not only in a physical way, but it will impact your mood and improve many other aspects of your life, as well.”

According to this health expert, stemming the tide of obesity starts at home.

Just Posted

Stem cell donor with rare genetic makeup needed to save Saanich man after cancer returns

Jeremy Chow is half Canton Chinese, half British and needs a donor with a similar ethnic background

Victoria Humane Society needs volunteers after flood of puppies and kittens

Pregnant cats, dogs and their litters are in need of foster care

Tomato planting controversy inspires Victoria author’s book on transforming cities

Woman behind the Collinson street mural pens third book

New UVic student housing project before Saanich council tonight

Two new buildings would add almost 700 new student housing spaces

Saanich council considers more ambitious climate change goals

Staff promise more details about ‘acclerated actions’ later this fall

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read