Many people’s feelings about food were instilled as children.
We learn good and bad food habits from our parents and friends as we grow up, and these habits shape the rest of our lives. Although some children might have a genetic predisposition to obesity, evidence shows many children as young as preschoolers have a self-regulating caloric consumption.
Environment, parental influence, food choices, and learned behavior might well contribute to the seemingly degeneration of the body’s natural system. Early education has touched health, food, and eating from a purely scientific, void any emotional connection with food. The government has created charts for food groups and made recommendations. Although this is a positive step, many children are not offered healthy food choices or are allowed to make their own decisions. A diet of processed and unhealthy food would probably disrupt the body’s ability to regulate digestion and energy expenditure.
Kids who skip meals or overeat after long periods of going hungry create a vicious cycle of gradual and progressive weight gain.
The development of a myriad of emotional responses associated with food and eating can be derived from as many environmental influences. Food can become a desired stimulation after experiencing the effects of a sugar rush. Children will adopt their parents eating habits and emotions regarding food. Just two generations ago, fast food was not as readily available or an accepted meal. Fast food restaurants began growing like suburban weeds, after years of parents rolling through drive- thrus, and when the next generation reached driving age, the lines still got longer.
Eating can evolve into a very personal battle of control. Many American parents attempt to control their children with food. Food was often a motivational tool of reward or punishment.
Schools instituted lunch as a social event, often with rewards for eating quickly. Many schools allowed children to exit the cafeteria to go to the playground as soon as they finished eating. As many children reached their teens food became their choice for the first time. Fast food actually became a form of rebellion. The fast food industry marketed toward children and teens with characters such as Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger, and Happy Meals.’ The fast food industry and Hollywood formed alliance to lure children with the latest movie action figures and toys. Fast food then infiltrated schools with sponsorships and meals. In addition, soda is now offered in many lunchrooms across the country. Soda was considered an unhealthy drink just twenty-five years ago. Soda fountains were a rare treat and self serve fountains almost unseen.
Today, the situation is different and children are bombarded with unhealthy foods. It’s time for us to teach our children healthy food habits before its too late, since childhood obesity is rising in America, and is higher than ever before.