Parents should watch what they eat, for child’s sake

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    A new study from the University of Minnesota released April 11 found that being a parent can detract from leading a healthy lifestyle.

    The study found that both mothers and fathers were less physically active than their non-parent peers and that young adult mothers had a higher body mass index than their non-parent counterparts.

    Parents may not have the luxury of scheduling in a workout or planning to cook a well-balanced meal, but that doesn’t mean people should shy away from having children. Instead, people should change their priorities.

    The study looked at 838 women and 682 men. The study found that the women were consuming more drinks with high sugar content, more total calories and more saturated fat while the men were less physically active but still had a similar BMI to those men who didn’t have children.

    Women with children consumed, on average, 2,360 calories a day while childless women consumed 1,992, according to the study. The study said the excess calories could be found in mothers consuming their children’s leftover food or their higher intake of more unhealthy foods due to time constraints on cooking nutritious meals with all the family’s other activities.

    Children model the behavior of those surrounding them, most importantly their parents. If they see their moms and dads eating chips and going through the drive-thru nightly, then they’ll grow to understand that these eating behaviors are perfectly normal and will equate these behaviors to being acceptable.

    These behaviors aren’t acceptable when one looks at the fact that nearly 25 million children are overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Clinton Foundation. There needs to be a change now, and that starts with parents.

    Parents need to take a stand for their own well-being. They need to say no to volunteering for every project or signing their children up for yet another activity. Paying attention to what their children truly enjoy and what their children want to continue to participate in would solve the time crunch surrounding some issues.

    Just because parents may live in a world that demands they live in the fast lane doesn’t mean they have to thrust their children into that way of thinking.

    If parents limit their children to one or two activities based on the parents’ personal time schedules, they could work in an exercise schedule and trade off on cooking nutritious meals. If both parents make a conscious effort, they can reverse the negative effects of parenthood and instill in their children a healthy respect for food and exercise.

    Small changes now will make a world of difference later.

    Changes such as taking the stairs, choosing vegetables, drinking only water, sitting down together for dinner and exercising as a family have physical and emotional benefits for all.

    Parenting doesn’t have to be a detrimental affair for one’s health. The level of stress involved with too many time constraints will only translate to one’s children. There needs to be an emphasis on academics and then on other activities. If that means telling a child no, then so be it. Just because there are so many opportunities today doesn’t mean that one has to participate in all of them.

    The time to change is now, and a parent’s reason for saying no doesn’t have to be anything more than “because I said so.”

    Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.