The ‘obesity epidemic’ is often in the news here in the UK, with inactivity as a child often being cited as a contributing factor, which is clearly worrying for parents. What’s talked about less often is how children feel about their parents’ habits, whether that be smoking, drinking, or inactivity, and recent research has revealed just how much kids worry about their mums and dads lifestyles.
When I was a kid there was much less information around about health and wellbeing, so I didn’t realise that my parents’ inactive lifestyles were an issue. Kids have an abundance of information at their fingertips nowadays, reading websites and the news on smartphones, and two thirds of the children involved in the research nag their parents over concerns for their future health. I know just how difficult this can be – my lovely mum has never much enjoyed sport or activity though she has a number of health issues which exercise and a good diet help to improve the symptoms of. But can I convince her to live a healthier life..?!
Erm.. The answer is that we’re sort of on our way there. She’s definitely more aware of which foods are healthy (the starting point was thinking microwaved tomatoes on toast were the height of nutrition) and I love it when I cook a healthy tea for her and she enjoys it. The study shows that 47% of the kids were so concerned about their parents’ health they used underhand tactics like sneaking healthy foods into their parents’ meals, which I’ve never done.. Or at least not on purpose. Let’s not count when I ran out of cows’ milk in my flat and had to use almond milk in her porridge.
I recognise that I may sound condescending, trying to teach my mum about being healthy (and 51% of the kids were worried about the same thing) but realistically growing up she would have had even less information than I – up until the 1950s doctors were even featured on advertisements saying cigarettes were GOOD for you and there was definitely no Wikipedia to answer any questions about health she may have had. I like to think my interest in fitness and health has rubbed off on her a little though, as she can often be seen rocking a pretty smart pair of Nikes.. and she has recently starting going to a Zumba class!
I did try to get my mum to teach me a couple of her Zumba moves the other day in the garden – as you can see the process wasn’t taken too seriously and we just ended up creasing with laughter – but really I’m just happy my mum has found an activity she enjoys and can do it with friends. Apart from a short period when her arthritis had flared up particularly badly she’s been going regularly for a few months, which has had a positive effect as the dose of one of her medications has been dropped. My advice to anyone trying to influence your parents’ lifestyles is to show them that healthy isn’t necessarily making extreme choices or depriving yourself of fun, it’s about nourishing your body and mind in a different way. Once they find habits they love join in with them to show how pleased you are they’re following your healthy lead.
*This post is in partnership with AXA PPP Healthcare who undertook the research into children’s concerns.