By: Ryan L.
Positive youth development is a concept that can be applied to and be affected by a vast array of contexts, situations and environments; it can be shaped (positively, or negatively) by friends, parents, teachers, neighbourhoods, social media, and individuals respective self-images among countless other contexts/situations. Therefore, wouldn’t it stand to reason that what we feed our children can also contribute to positive youth development? With prevalence rates of obesity and obesity-related conditions on the rise, is it a stretch to think that a younger, lazier and less healthy generation is on the rise due to the junk food culture they are exposed to?
As childhood obesity rates in Canada continue to soar, it leaves me to wonder what so many parents are feeding their children in order to contribute to such a dramatic climb in not only obesity rates, but also rates of disease among children. The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) reports that the rate of diagnosis for Type 1 diabetics is increasing at approximately 3% per year; more starling however, is the fact that increasing amounts of children are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. The CDA also reported that many young people are experiencing advanced symptoms of diabetes as well. As a student with Type 1 Diabetes, I would not wish this disease on anyone, especially a child; yet, parents continue to contribute to poor nutrition in their children despite the constant talk of increasing rates of childhood obesity in the media. This nutritional abuse (dia-beating if you will) contributes to the unhealthy physical development of children and youth who may in turn continue to do so to children of their own.
With these childhood obesity rates climbing, it is not astonishing to discover that the prevalence of diabetes among children is increasing as well (even Type 2, which is primarily an adult onset disorder). How are these children supposed to develop in a positive manner, when their parents are physically setting them up for failure by abusing their children (nutritionally speaking)? Though my parents were never rich, educated in nutrition or anything along those lines, they knew that my brother and I needed to eat the appropriate foods so that we could grow appropriately and they did so on a limited budget a lot of the time. It isn’t difficult to eat the appropriate foods; if a poor Type 1 Diabetic student such as myself can afford to keep myself nutritionally fueled, how come parents with steady jobs can’t feed their children appropriately? When the price of a bag of chips is higher than that of a bag of apples, perhaps it’s time you start analyzing what you buy your children. If parents do not begin to think about the food that they place in front of their children, they may be unwittingly contributing to the decreased self-image of their children as they are exposed to weight gain, decreased energy, lack of self-esteem as well as many other detrimental developmental effects through poor nutrition. Parents need to take the time to educate not only themselves but also their children in an attempt to fuel their positive development over some of the most crucial years of their lives.
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