If you’re blaming the fast food or candy store next to your child’s school for their extra pounds, a recent study finds that you might be throwing blame in the wrong direction. Researchers in Maine found that 10 out of 11 high schools had stores that sold junk food within about 1.5 miles from the school. However, the proximity was not associated with the number of students who were overweight or obese.
Does this mean junk food doesn’t lead to obesity? Well, no. With the typical American kid eating 40 percent of his calories from junk, and one out of every three children either overweight or obese, it’s more than likely associated.
So if the proximity of junk food isn’t leading to overweight high school students, what might be leading to this problem and how can we prevent it?
- Inactivity: Kids are watching more TV, playing video games, and being less active than in the past. Give your child a limit on screen time and have them join a sports team, club, or just play outside together.
- Eating out more often: Instead of wasting time (and money!) driving to a restaurant, whether it’s fast food or regular, get the whole family involved in grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning the dishes. The kids will learn some valuable life skills and get better nutrition all in one.
- Junk food snacks: One study showed that junk food that is out of sight also stays out of the stomach. Stock up with healthy snacks like unsalted nuts, fruits, veggie sticks, hummus, and yogurt.
- Visit Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! website for numerous ideas on fighting childhood obesity.
The junk food industry makes it easy for us to eat unhealthy foods, but it is our choice to do so and you don’t have to buy into it. That attitude is something you can pass on to your kids.