Family dynamics have a huge impact on a child’s weight. Things like whether you are having family meals together, whether you make physical activity a family priority and where you choose to eat out together very much play a role in shaping your child’s health and forming habits for life.
More often than not, it’s obese parents who produce obese kids, agrees ZisBoomBah’s close advisor and internationally recognized childhood obesity expert James O. Hill, PhD. Not always, but usually. Whether parents model the right or the wrong behavior is one of the biggest deciding factors which weight path the kids will go down in their childhood and possibly continue on for the rest of their life, struggling to break the bad habits that have been so deeply engrained in them.
Breaking that cycle from one generation to the next isn’t easy, especially not if obese parents aren’t receptive to changing family dynamics. Why not? “They are obese themselves, so sometimes you have to look hard at your own behavior,” Dr. Hill points out. Parents don’t realize or choose not to acknowledge they are “doing the wrong things.” And then there are parents where there is hope. The ones who know their family has an issue with healthy eating and exercising but don’t know what to do about it. Those are the families where the seeds of education and fun food games like we offer here at ZisBoomBah.com actually have a chance to grow into real change.
Moms are the gatekeepers
Our family lifestyle expert believes there are a lot of moms out there who are looking for help. They are looking for things they can do to get their family going.
“Usually, the mother is the gatekeeper,” says Dr. Hill. “Not always but often, she is the one who buys the food, prepares the meals, decides where they eat out, so I think Mom does have a particularly important role in all of this – in both directions, positive and negative.”
Don’t think you have time to straighten out your family dynamics until the kids are old enough to take notice. Your lifestyle decisions count from the moment you get pregnant. “The whole idea whether or not you breastfeed, when you introduce solid foods [and isn’t it usually the mother again who makes those decisions?]… What we are learning is that maintaining a healthy weight and healthy behavior starts really right from birth,” Dr. Hill says. The younger the child is, the more control the parents have over what he or she eats and the more important your role is in shaping your child’s body and eating life.