Teaching children to be healthy

“The overwhelming magnitude of diet-related problems is reason enough to demand dietary changes.” — C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General

by Esta Libero — 

Childhood obesity is skyrocketing. In the 1970s, only 1 in 100 children were obese. In 2010, the obesity rate for children in the U.S. was up to 26 percent. Given this trend, what can we expect in the future?

On a cable show called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” Chef Jamie traveled to the town of Huntington, West Virginia, whose citizens had been voted the sickest, most overweight population in the U.S. He stated that the children of this town will live shorter lives than those of their parents if their health conditions do not change.

We are a country of diverse cultures and cuisines, yet most of our food is completely manufactured, i.e., processed and packaged and more “food-like” than real. Americans spend $503 billion annually on food. One half of this was for snacks and highly processed convenience foods. Sadly, we are eating and starving at the same time.

Interestingly, compared to other industrialized countries, we are at the top of the list when it comes to diseases of malnutrition. We have the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. On another list, we are near the bottom when it comes to education.

In a study of high school students in the U.S. and in the Netherlands, the top U.S. high school students scored below 50 percent on a simple exam. If you think that is strange, think again. Malnutrition is the leading cause of most physical, mental and emotional diseases, and dysfunctions. On top of that, kids are medicated for ADD and ADHD. No wonder they are not able to perform better in all aspects of their educations.

We must have hope, as there are healthy kids in the U.S. who have been raised to understand what being healthy means. They have learned that processed food is not food and that they have the power to choose. Learning to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins is not difficult.

These kids feel and know the difference when they eat well and when they do not. “I learned to help make meals and pack healthy lunches from an early age,” says one healthy teen. “I am more addicted to feeling well than to eating junk.”

Adults are truly in charge of what children eat, watch on T.V. and do with their free time. If we start children early on a lifestyle of health, perhaps we can start the new chain of command, take back our power and empower our children. When we are young, we should be taught the means to gracefully grow old. That is really the meaning of health.

When we educate and empower our children to be well, they do well. When they do well, they are free to be the loving, creative spirits they were born to be. When they become loving, creative and free spirits, they truly have the energy to make a difference in the world.


Esta Libero is a holistic health coach who has intense training in dance, massage, nutrition and other forms of healing arts. She lectures on food-grade herbs and holds classes on self-healing, utilizing the philosophy of regeneration based on the Chinese 5 Element System. sunsister@cox.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 4, August/September 2010.

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