Childhood obesity is a serious concern. Obese children have adverse health effects during childhood, and it increases their risk of future chronic disease in adult life. Over nutrition from the wrong types of foods is the greatest nutrition-related risk to children today. Fortunately, providing your children with a variety of plant foods can provide all the nutrients they need to grow and develop normally while minimizing their risk for excess weight gain and future chronic diseases.
Contrary to what you may have heard, studies show that our childhood obesity crisis is not due to a lack of exercise or more time in front of the television and computer. While physical activity is key to good health in general, when it comes to keeping a healthy weight, what you eat is more important than what you burn off through exercise—this is simply because it is so difficult to burn off the large number of calories in junk foods and fast foods, especially for a child.
Children with weight problems tend to consume more calories, fat, fast foods, and energy-dense choices, which are generally foods and beverages with added fats and sugars. By consuming less of these types of foods, eating breakfast regularly, and consuming more fruits and vegetables, children have a lower risk of developing weight problems.
Since plant foods are packed with fiber along with nutrients, they tend to be lower in calories compared to the same portion of animal products, which are void of fiber. It’s easy to see why people who tend to eat the most amount of plant foods and the least amount of animal products can most successfully maintain a healthy weight. Vegetarians have been shown to be leaner than their meat-eating peers in a number of scientific studies, and vegetarian diets have also been shown to be effective in weight loss.
So, what should you feed your children to prevent unhealthy weight gain? Well, the same types of foods that keep your children healthy will keep you healthy, too. According to health experts changing the types of foods children eat rather than the amount of food they eat. He encouraged shifting the entire family away from oily fried foods, meats, and dairy products and toward low-fat, plant-based foods: grains, pasta, vegetables, legumes, and fruit. When this is done, he stated, “weight loss typically occurs without anyone going hungry.” This is the key to lifelong weight maintenance. The scientific evidence is clear: The closer a family gets to a pure vegetarian diet, the healthier and leaner they’ll be.