The Straits Times
Published on Nov 08, 2012

Parents must walk the talk in tackling obesity


TEACHING parents to help their children tackle obesity is a good start ("'Arm parents so they can help kids fight flab'"; last Saturday), but parents must commit to being good examples.

Living a healthy lifestyle means doing regular exercise, understanding the minimum daily nutrition intake, being aware of all healthy and unhealthy foods, and having lots of sleep.

Realistically, adults today are unwilling to give up their lifestyles and change their tastebuds, until their health deteriorates.

It is not uncommon to see parents giving in to their children's demands and allowing caretakers to feed them whatever they want.

It is this attitude that corrodes the ability to contain obesity. Parents should feel guilty if they teach their children to enjoy fast food, sugar-filled soft drinks, sweets, snacks and desserts.

Most children today favour tasty unhealthy foods over healthy ones, and it is almost impossible to reverse the habit.

Instilling healthy lifestyle habits should start from early childhood.

Just as children are taught in school to differentiate between the various colours and shapes, they should also be taught to recognise healthy foods from unhealthy ones.

They must understand how their bodies work, and what happens when they start eating healthily versus gorging on junk food.

Many parents think that children are too young to understand, but my experience as a children's fitness instructor informs me that even two-year-olds can understand healthy dining.

Healthy habits should start from early childhood education in school, with the parents reinforcing them at home.

Instead of changing the children's environment, there is no better way to educate them than to directly instil lifelong healthy habits. The less our next generation eats unhealthily, the less we will see junk and unhealthy food in the market.

Tan Min Li