Know more, do more

Seaway News - - HEALTH/LIFESTYLE -

As par­ents, we keep an eye on what our chil­dren eat and how ac­tive they are. Re­sults of a lo­cal health re­search study, how­ever, in­di­cate that maybe we’re not see­ing what we should be. The im­pli­ca­tions are im­por­tant for fam­i­lies in the Cham­plain re­gion, in­clud­ing the Five East­ern Coun­ties.

Over the last 25 years, the num­ber of over­weight and obese chil­dren in On­tario has tripled.

Phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity and poor eat­ing habits among chil­dren and youth con­trib­ute to what is now con­sid­ered an epi­demic. In 2007, the Cham­plain Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion Net­work ( CCPN), a coali­tion of health and com­mu­nity part­ners in East­ern On­tario, sur­veyed par­ents of chil­dren aged 4 to 12 years to bet­ter un­der­stand their per­cep­tions about their chil­dren’s weight, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, and eat­ing be­hav­iours.

“ The re­sults were quite re­veal­ing,” says Dr. Paul Roume­li­o­tis, Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer of Health, East­ern On­tario Health Unit.

Over­all, par­ents in this re­gion be­lieve their chil­dren have ad­e­quate phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity lev­els, good eat­ing habits, and are at about the right weight. How­ever, data from Statis­tics Canada and other na­tional sources clearly in­di­cate that these re­sults are not con­sis­tent with other mea­sures of child ac­tiv­ity, eat­ing habits and weight. Some ex­am­ples from the study:

•The large ma­jor­ity of par­ents ( 83%) felt their child was ‘ about the right weight’. Seven per cent of par­ents felt their child was over­weight. Al­most no one ( 0.2%) felt their child was obese. Yet, among chil­dren aged 2 to 17 years, the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion of On­tario notes that the cur­rent rate over­weight and obe­sity in On­tario 28%.

•When asked how phys­i­cally ac­tive they con­sider their child to be, 9 out of 10 par­ents in the study said that they con­sid­ered their child to be ‘ ac­tive’ ( 34%) or ‘ very ac­tive’ ( 56%), yet ac­cord­ing to Ac­tive Healthy Kids Canada, 87% of chil­dren and youth are not meet­ing the rec­om­mended 90 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a day.

• One-quar­ter ( 25%) of par­ents in the study re­ported that their child con­sumes 2 or less serv­ings of fruit and veg­eta­bles daily when in re­al­ity only 1 in 8 chil­dren ( 13%) in On­tario is eat­ing 5 or more daily serv­ings of fruit and veg­eta­bles daily.

“ Par­ents’ per­cep­tions stand in con­trast to the facts we know as a health com­mu­nity about the health be­hav­iours of our chil­dren,” says Dr. Paul Roume­li­o­tis.

As a re­sult, the CCPN has launched the Know More Do More cam­paign to en­cour­age par­ents to cre­ate more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and healthy eat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for their fam­i­lies— re­gard­less of how healthy they think their chil­dren of is are.

Fam­i­lies can build a Fam­ily Healthy Ac­tive Liv­ing jar with tips that are avail­able on the cam­paign web­site at www. know­more-domore. ca. Tips in­clude things like “ have a dance-off with your chil­dren af­ter din­ner tonight”, “ or­ga­nize a scav­enger hunt in your neigh­bour­hood and re­cruit a few fam­i­lies to par­tic­i­pate,” and “ pack a pro­cessed-free lunch as a fam­ily this week”. Fam­i­lies who reg­is­ter on the web­site by June 15th also have a chance to win a mem­ber­ship to a com­mu­nity cen­tre, a fam­ily pad­dling course, or a wa­ter park ex­pe­ri­ence.

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