June 4, 2014

For we adults, thinking back to our school days conjures memories of kids tearing around the school yard, all involved, all active, and none that would fit into anyone’s classification of overweight, let alone obese.

How times have changed. News reports are full of scare stories about the state of our kids’ weight, blaming everything from TV, computer games, junk food, lack of exercise, kids not allowed to play outside, families not sitting at the table to eat a meal, too little water or sunshine or micronutrients. The area of blame changes from one report to the next.

Unfortunately, these same news reports rarely contain practical advice or tips about how to fix the problem.

So when an 11 year old, 80+kg Brisbane boy decided to take what sounds like drastic action, his family were fully supportive.

He moved in with his aunt and uncle for three months on the promise that they would help him transform his life with healthy habits.

He says that during the three months, his family were his cheerleaders. He says he now feels more alive having lost 20kg. His eating habits, exercise and sleep have all improved. His father says he’s more energised and focused, and also more mature.

This Brisbane boy was lucky that he had access to the expertise of his aunt and uncle, both of whom work in the health and wellness field. But what can you do at home for your own kids?

A new movie had its world premiere this week. Overfed and Undernourished follows the story of this Brisbane boy and his family, and may just present some ideas we can all implement to help our kids, whether they are overweight or not.

We know that nutritional choices play a significant role in health and weight, and that exercise is an essential part of daily life for all of us, but many don’t know what nutritional choices to make or how to get the kids away from electronic screens and into the back yard or sporting field.

With 25% of kids and 60% of adults overweight or obese, something needs to be done. Government bodies try, but the recommendations they come out with must be generalised enough to fit the entire population. This means that they don’t necessarily suit individuals.

So the responsibility comes to the individual. Whatever the cause, the individual is the one who must do something to remedy their situation. Whether this is diet, exercise, sleep therapy, medical intervention, counselling, supplementation, mindfulness or a combination of these, something needs to change for the individual.

We know that we can’t expect kids to be the instigators of change: that’s the role of parents. Kids watch adults, but don’t always listen to what we say. It’s hard for a kid to go outside and play if mum and dad are sitting on the sofa reading. It’s harder still for an overweight kid to eat an apple while his friends munch on chips.

Ultimately, mum and dad choose what goes in the trolley, they choose what gets served up at meal times, and they choose when to disconnect the internet and get some active family time.

To follow the story of this lucky Brisbane boy, and to hear about the problem and perhaps some ideas for a solution for your family or another close to you, catch a screening of Overfed and Undernourished, or order the DVD online.

http://overfedandundernourishedmovie.com/