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Children and teens eating away from home: does it contribute to obesity?

Posted Sep 17 2009 10:34pm

And, finally, we arrive at the last topic to be addressed on the list of  Childhood obesity in America: Top 10 culprits  ... out-of-home meals.  More and more children are eating more than one meal at school and  home-prepared box lunches  have often become a thing of the past.  The need to offer more healthy options at schools has definitely been shown and it is reassuring to note that many have already started to make some vital changes and many more are in that process.  

In addition, eating out and frequenting restaurants has increased over the years and it is not easy to  know how to choose healthy food when, famished and tired, you are presented with a whole slew of delectable and delicious options on the menu often too numerous to count, many having a day's calories in one meal.  

And to add insult to injury,  portions  have taken on humongoid sizes and we have come to accept these, without batting an eyelash, as standard servings.  

So, it seems like a losing battle, disheartening at best; the answer to the question "Does eating out lead to childhood obesity?" seems quite obvious.  However, it is not quite so straightforward, as we have seen that a sedentary, non active, sit-on-the-couch-in-front-of-the-TV-and-eat-chips lifestyle certainly contributes to this health danger (among many other factors).

So, take the time and make the investment in your children and teens to teach them about (see above related links for tips):

  • Eating at restaurants and making good food choices
  • Eating at school, reviewing the cafeteria schedule and vending machine options with them
  • Showing them how food portions have increased over the years
  • Minimizing fast foods (next article will provide some insight)
  • Meeting their daily requirements of fruits (at least 2), vegetables (at least 3), calcium (203 servings per day, fiber (as much as possible), and water (aim for the proverbial minimal 6 glasses per day)
  • Taking an age-appropriate multivitamin most days of the week if not every day

By increasing their awareness, you empower them.  And for sure, worth repeating -- parents and caretakers, always be a consistent example for them.

Picture by Stepanov, PhotoXpress

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