I have often wondered about the ‘genetic’ link to certain diseases. Could it be that people ‘inherit’ infirmities from their parents, not because of their ‘genes’, but because of inherited patterns of behaviour, including food habits?
A few years ago, I was at a shopping mall with a friend of mine. In those days, I myself was quite overweight, but my friend, a 40+ former military man, was in better shape than most people in their 20s. Suddenly, he stopped dead in this tracks, turned to me, and said “Nate, when you were in school, didn’t everyone make fun of the fat boys?”
“Yes” I replied, cautiously.
“Well, by the time you have school-age children of your own, it’ll be the fat ones making fun of the thin ones!”
I looked around. He was right. Many of the children around us were overweight, definitely a greater number than were overweight in my class at school. All who were accompanied by parents had at least one chubby parent.
A number of people I know have jumped on the health wagon late in life, making changes to their lives in recent times. Some have modified their diet, some cut back on alcohol and smoking, some have even discovered the demerits of simple carbohydrates and sugar, and have given them up, but what about the kids?
Here are some of the scenarios I have noticed in India.
1) Parents are reasonably health conscious and don’t eat much junk food, but they take their kids to fast food places and load them up with unhealthy foods and HFCS laced drinks.
The most serious problem with this is that since many of these visits are presented as a ‘treat’, the child may form a psychological ‘pleasure connection’ with that kind of fast food, and later, as an earning adult who can afford to eat it three times a day, may turn to it for emotional gratification. Indeed ‘comfort eating’ is a major cause of obesity! Some of them end up messing up their diets because of the kids’ junk food lying around the house.
2) Health conscious parents who fall for marketing fads.
I know of many adults who are ‘health conscious’, but perpetually get their health information from TV commercials. Their kitchens are often full of sugar loaded name-brand cereals that claim to have health benefits, added nutrients, etc. In their misguided quest for health, they’re actually feeding their kids’ sugar addiction. I don’t blame them, lots of these companies use cheap shots in advertising. Indian television is full of emotionally abusive commercials usually targeted at mothers that show children losing martial arts tournaments, being growth stunted, or underperforming at school because they don’t use a particular energy drink or breakfast cereal.
3) The indifferent ones.
I’m not implying that these parents care any less for their kids, but because of a lack of information, they fail to prioritise good nutrition.
4) The unhealthy ones.
These are parents that need the most work themselves, because they’re unhealthy themselves and are passing that behaviour on to their kids. Kids copy their behaviour of sedentary life and bad food choices, setting themselves up for a lifetime of battles with weight and poor health.
If there is something that you would like to add to this, please note it in the comments section below.