Are you and your kids eating right?

It is scary to learn that at least 30% of all teenage girls are overweight and 10% of boys in SA are either overweight or obese. Furthermore, 22% of primary school girls and 17% of primary school boys in SA have a tendency to be overweight or obese. Most frightening though is that 17% of children under the age of nine in SA are already either overweight or obese.

Seven out of 10 women and four out of 10 men in SA have significantly more body fat than what is deemed healthy, according to a ground-breaking new study published in the medical journal, the Lancet. SA has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, a 2011 health survey conducted by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline pronounced SA “the third-fattest nation in the world.” Yes, in the world!

What does this tell us? Parents are not eating right, so are their children! What causes such bad eating habits and dire obesity stats in SA? The increasing Westernisation and urbanisation of our population over the past few decades. Here’s an example: “I just don’t have time” most moms say. Moms spend more than eight hours daily in demanding offices. As soon as they get home, supper needs to be prepared while they help their children with homework; then they get children ready for bed.

They prepare school lunches and uniforms for the next day; do velocious home cleaning before jumping into the shower; decide on a work outfit for the next day and finally do imperative prepping for work before getting well-deserved beauty sleep. If not worn out by then, moms get a chance to read a few pages from their favourite novel or watch an episode of their favourite TV series. What a hectic day!

So, most women opt for fast food in order to create more time in their busy schedules. Fast food is convenient, accessible, budget-friendly and on the go. The only problem with fast food is that it’s salt, sugar and fat content is extremely high, making it massively unhealthy. It is interesting to note that poor people living in rural areas that eat fresh fruit and veggies together with unprocessed meat are healthier than city dwellers who indulge in processed, unhealthy food that is chemically treated, sugar-laden and depleted of nutrients.

Both parents and their children lead inactive lifestyles nowadays. Fewer children participate in extramural sporting activities or even “physically” play at home since the invention of gaming consoles, smartphones and computers. Parents often complain about the lack of time to workout at home and that gyms are costly. This sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle increases the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes.

When you have diabetes your body is unable to use the glucose from the food that you eat. The glucose comes from seed breads, biscuits, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, rye, maize, barley, wheat, legumes, all varieties of fruit and non-starchy vegetables (high in fibre, rich source of minerals and vitamins) & starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn & parsnips.) Diabetes highlights the importance of a well-balanced eating pattern.

There are three different types of diabetes that you can develop; these are Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes: Develops when your pancreas stops creating insulin. This most commonly happens in individuals that are young and under the age of 30. This can also occur in extremely young children. The onset is not only really fast, but is frightening and is commonly believed to be the result of the body attacking and destroying its own cells as a result of a bacterial infection, exposure to food-borne chemical poisons or being exposed to cows’ milk as an infant. Genes also play a role.

Type 1 diabetics inject themselves with insulin every day, need to partake in exercise, plus a strict diet is essential.

Type 2 Diabetes: Most sufferers are over the age of 40 – but young people are also developing this condition due to being both overweight and living sedentary lives. 85 to 90% of all individuals with diabetes have Type 2. Risk is exacerbated by lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, being obese, not exercising enough and incorrect eating. Losing weight often reduces the levels of glucose, and medication can also assist.

Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy and disappears after the birth of the baby. Thereafter both mother and child have a propensity of contracting diabetes in the future.

Diabetes is not a life sentence as it can easily be managed and individuals living with this condition can live a long, healthy life. A healthy child grows up to become a healthy adult and will instil the principles of healthy eating and lifestyle in his or her children in future, vice versa. That’s all it takes to create a Diabetes Free Generation. Remember, you are what you eat! Teach your children to Say Yes to Life! Learn more by visiting:

By: Martha Chauke

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