Study: parents with young children are more unhealthy than those without

I saw a friend proudly boast “I lost all of my baby weight!” There were hoards of comments congratulating her on her feat (and it is a feat) and she was repeatedly asked how she did it. Her answer? Eating healthy and running around after her baby. That seems like a pretty reasonable weight loss system.

But imagine my surprise when I open up my local newspaper to find a national study that says parents of young children are actually more unhealthy than those adults without young children. What am I missing?

The study says the parents, especially moms, eat more calories, sugary foods and saturated fats. They also do not exercise as much as their non-parenting peers. The reasoning? Most parents say the needs of their kids come first so once they get their kids fed, they grab whatever is closest and easiest to prepare. I’ve written about it before, prepared foods are not as healthy as fresh foods. Plain and simple. Preservatives are added so food has a longer shelf life, but this is usually at the expense of nutrients and vitamins. And kids are probably not going to be interested in your smoked salmon and roasted asparagus, and it is difficult (if not impossible) to create a two different meals each time you eat. So parent’s diets are usually dictated by their children. And that diet includes fruit snacks, mac and cheese and Goldfish crackers. Not sounding so healthy.

One of the moms quoted in the article also stated that gym time was also made a lower priority item on her to-do list. The combination of bad food and no exercise compounds to more overweight and unhealthy parents.

So what’s the big deal? Eating habits for children are created from the very beginning. I have never had a child before, but I am an auntie. And I have given my young nephew some Jell-o and watched how he refused to touch anything else. The same is for babies. The longer you can prolong fruit the better, because children won’t want to eat their vegetables after having something so sweet.

Young childhood eating is becoming an increasingly hot topic because of the rise of childhood obesity. And fast food and bad eating habits are to blame.

The best way for parents to inspire a healthy lifestyle: lead by example.The article suggests whipping out your health insurance card and visiting your doctor for eating plans when your child is young (we’re talking infant). Your doctor can give diet plans and resources to community activities that can inspire young families get active.

But the most important thing is not about the families losing weight, although may be an important factor. The most important outcome of this study was to inspire couples with young children to rearrange their lifestyles so they can teach their own children how to live healthy lives. Habits start early.

Advice for busy parents? Introduce your kids to different foods regularly so they are willing to try new things and get active in anyway you can.