Know more, do more
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.