updated 31 May 2011, 06:32
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Sun, Apr 24, 2011
The Brunei Times
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What are we thinking, feeding our children?

THE media has tirelessly addressed the rising prevalence of childhood obesity in countries such as America and China.

It is easy to think to ourselves "we're not like that", but the reality of it is: if we don't start being careful, we'd end up in the same predicament.

A quick visit to your nearby fast food outlet after school hours and it is not uncommon to see children and teenagers queuing the line with their parents to buy deep-fried lunches. On the surface, a typical fast food meal meets our basic need for food and it's faster than fixing a proper lunch. For under $10, consumers get their dosage of protein, carbohydrates and fat, usually with a soda to boot. However, it's also dense in empty calories perfect for building pudgy, undernutrition bodies.

The problem here in Brunei is one faced by most developed and maturing economies we're poor for the time, so, we settle for whatever's convenient.

Lest we forget, countless researchers have documented the ill-effects of giving in to the temptation of feeding ourselves and our children a nutrient-strapped, high-calorie diet. The term used to describe this is food-insecure we're eating but it's not doing much good to our bodies except for storing the energy surplus as extra padding.

From (unscientific but shocking) experience and observation, some children are picky eaters preferring deep-fried food and sugar-laden treats they throw tantrums and would rather starve than eat healthier home-prepared meals. But food isn't the only culprit, inactive lifestyle is another.

We all know the solution for obesity, the equation seems simple enough: healthy lifestyle + calorie control = healthy weight.

However, like most things in life (and from previous shocking observation as aforementioned), this is easier said than done.

I am constantly envious of teenagers and kids who have the latest technology has to offer. Most kids today have gadgets I wasn't even allowed to touch when I was 18!

There are pros and cons. Of course, one of the main disadvantage being that they get too engrossed with their toys and gadgets that they have little interest for playing outside on their bikes and skates or whatever it is that's 'cool' these days.

But we are starting to address the issue before it turns into a problem.

Government schools have started providing better sports facilities and monitoring healthier food to be handed out to schoolchildren. Frequent roadshows and talks have been organised to educate our youth on the importance and benefit of healthy living. And as of late, 'jogathons', walkathons and fun runs seem to be popping up on an almost weekly basis.

Our love for food and penchant to treat ourselves and our children with indulgent food needs to find a healthy balance. Although shows like 'Downsize Me' amazes me, I personally do not feel it is necessary for us to adopt a lifestyle devoid of the pleasures of rich sinful food as advocated by the New Zealand-based TV programme.

But, a fast food meal and sugary treats most days of the week is a tad too much, especially when fed to children as young as four years old. Don't they deserve a healthy, fighting start to life?

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