My daughter is learning about nutrition at school at the moment, looking at how we are what we eat, how much of our health is dependent on what we consume. And while I’m always reticent about people plying teenage girls heads with too much obsession around food and focussing on dissecting every detail of what they’re eating, the general rule of thumb hasn't changed. Everything in moderation, fresh fruits and veges by the bucket. Once those good habits are formed, it’s easier for them to make healthy choices as adults.
This all comes as New Zealand faces renewed calls to reduce fast food outlets in the suburbs.
One report says more of our kids are gaining more weight and becoming less healthy. We know this, our obesity rates are terrible compared to other countries.
A recent study looked at the amount of processed food in our kids diets and the results there were sobering. Almost half of what Kiwi kids eat is processed. And not only that, they’re onto the processed food from a young age. By processed, the study’s author’s mean, muesli bars, crackers, bread. I mean that’s the staple of most Kiwi children’s lunchboxes isn’t it? And yet it’s not doing them any good.
Nutritionists say starting good food habits starts early and though some processed food is fine, it’s all about the moderation. The balance.
Some say this needs intervention like fewer fast food options available, but much like a sugar tax, I’m not sure that would work.
Yes kids are surrounded by cheap food and junk takeaways, but would having less of it around them make a tangible dent in our obesity stats?
Or is it actually the pathways we as parents are setting them on as we chuck crackers and a muesli bar into their lunchboxes?
Anyone whose had kids knows it’s not easy – of course they don’t want broccoli and capsicum stirfry for their school lunch, that’s a battle you’re never winning as a parent.
What we could do though overall, is look to make healthy options more reasonably priced. When coke and white bread is a couple of dollars apiece and an avocado is almost four dollars, you’re not making it easy for people to choose healthy. I’m not a fan of demonising foods.. but it's more than just knowing what's good to eat - it's actually eating it.
A recent study of pregnant women found that while many of them knew which foods were risky for them to eat, they’d still eat them anyway.
But if the kids can learn at school from a young age the importance of nutrition, and the role food plays in our overall health, then hopefully they’ll carry those lessons home and into their futures. Because turning around our obesity trend is proving a crucial task in shoring up the health of our children.