Monday, 6 January 2014

Children addicted to junk food, says fitness trainer

A fitness expert says that the current generation of children are addicted to junk food.

Krishna Kumar, a fitness trainer at the Al Falaj Hotel Gym says that the amount of junk food that is given to children has to be controlled.

"The media is developed now. Everywhere you can eat." says Krishna, quoting special offers at restaurants to illustrate what he means. "Even the fathers and mothers are aware. They have also come to know what is there in the food. The children are addicted [to junk food]."

Krishna Kumar, fitness trainer, Al Falaj Hotel Gym. Reproduced with permission
"I will never keep any sweets at home. I [may] want to eat sometime, but I will never keep a bundle of sweets at home," he says. "[For] small children, we have to keep something, that also in limitation. It will be in limited [amounts] of sweets, not like completely buying and giving the children."

Related article: Lifestyle responsible for unhealthy eating habits

Mara Betsch of the Discovery Channel says that junk food hooks kids in when they're still young.

"There's a reason why cartoons appear on sugary cereals, cheesy chips, and other processed foods," she writes. By appealing to kids, food marketers know they are also indirectly appealing to those children's mothers. 

"No mom wants a tempter tantrum in aisle 12, right? Especially with a product like Lunchables, kids feel like picking out their lunch is the one thing they can control in a world where someone tells them when to wake up, how to dress, and where to go." 

"What kids don't realize is that they're teaching their taste buds to respond to high-fat foods and setting themselves up for a lifetime of hard-to-break unhealthy eating habits," she says.

Krishna also advises parents to not give their children money without first asking them what it for, as children may use it for the wrong reasons.

"Don't give money to the children," says Krishna, who has more than 15 year of experience in the fitness world.

"If you give money to the children, you should know where exactly they've used [it]." 

The right eating habits in children, says Krishna, must be inculcated at a very young age.

He says that the parents and teachers of children must repeatedly tell them to do the right things so that it strikes a chord with them.

"The mother will say ten times, school people will say ten times 'do this, do that, eat that'", he explains. "We can reduce it (consumption of junk food) then. Before, people were eating fruits. Before, the father and mother were aware of that because they know how much exactly to eat.

Unhealthy: Junk food such as fried chicken is highly addictive and is now a preferred option to healthy food such as fruit and vegetables, warns Krishna. Image courtesy: Wikipedia.
"They came through that way, that's why they were giving children fruits only," he adds. "Now, the media is developed, lot of junk foods are there, children want tasty food like snacks only. 

Marissa Cohen of American Baby magazine strikes similar notes. Her younger daughter Molly was 18 months old when she was given her first lollipop.

"As she took her first lick, her eyes opened wide as saucers, and she looked at me as if to say, 'mommy, where have these yummy treats been all my life?'," writes Marissa.

"That was just the start," she continues. "Her sister soon introduced her to gummy bears and M&Ms, and now, whenever I offer apples or grapes as an afternoon snack, Molly pouts and says, 'nooo, chocolate!' It's a struggle, but I'm trying to teach her that treats are only a small part of an otherwise balanced diet."

While Krishna says we cannot completely avoid children eating junk food, he says it is important that children engage in calorie-burning exercises to burn the excess calories they ingest through junk food.

"We can tell them to burn calories at school, involve them [in] some activities or evening games, something like that," he says.

"Tell them 'you eat, no problem' but involve them for the activities. Burn the calories. Children can burn calories very easily," concludes Krishna. 

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