Worried about the unhealthy lifestyle of your kids? If yes, take heart.
A new study says parents who directly and actively engage with their children are likely to promote healthy living that includes physical activity, healthy eating, and less sedentary time — important behavioural determinants of childhood overweight and obesity.
“The study shows that simple encouragement is not enough — active parental support is essential,” said Heather Manson, chief of health promotion (chronic disease and injury prevention) at Public Health Ontario (PHO), in Canada.
Overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, cancer in adulthood, and ultimately an increased risk of premature mortality.
Improving parent support behaviours could be effective in mitigating the burden of excess body weight in childhood, the researchers said.
The findings showed that children whose parents took them to parks, playgrounds or sports programmes were twice as likely to be physically active.
Children whose parents took part in physical activity along with them were 35 per cent more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.
Further, children whose parents served raw fruits and vegetables as snacks between meals were almost five times more likely to develop healthy eating behaviour.
In addition, children whose parents ate meals regularly with their family and were away from the television were 67 per cent more likely to eat healthy foods like fruits and green vegetables.
Children whose parents enforced rules about their kids’ time before the screen were twice as likely not to develop sedentary behaviour.
The study also found that children were more likely to develop sedentary behaviours if families watch TV together or if there were several TVs in the house, the researchers concluded, in the paper appearing in the journal BMC Public Health.