Sunday, 09 October 2016 11:48

Too many fatties?

Lately, I’ve had children on my mind. Firstly, because they, or rather their parents on school runs, are once again filling the streets, and secondly because, during their summer break, I saw them ‘out and about’, in town, at the beach…  Once again I noticed that quite a number of them are overweight.

And as always I felt sad for them. How did they feel going back to school, possibly into a new class? Who took care of them over the summer, who cooked for them? Will their diet be better or worse during the school year?

I really could get carried away, lecturing people about the psychological and emotional scars a ‘fatty child’ will carry into adulthood. I was one of them and, yes, I could tell you stories. Children can be cruel, and being excluded and made fun of because of one’s physical appearance just never is a good thing.

I certainly don’t blame anyone and know too little about Cypriot society to make any assumptions. So, I asked around about the subject. One dietician friend says it’s a sign of our times: all the processed foods and children’s lazy indoor lifestyle. Her three kids are all in sports teams during the school year, but even they put on weight during their summer break, she said.

I also popped into a small clinic I had spotted that had a sign reading ‘Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management’, and a most interesting conversation ensued thereafter with US-trained dietician, nutritionist Nicole Stylianou.

She confirmed that obesity in children in Cyprus has gone up, but was unable to name one simple reason for it. There are many factors involved, she explained. Both parents working, and thus looking for quick meal solutions, resulting in children eating more fast food, is one of them. Often parents simply don’t have time to control their children’s eating habits.

Frequently, children have lunch at their grandmother’s, who, much-loved though she may be, just might not be the queen of healthy cooking. Alternatively, children may simply not enjoy her food and prefer to snack on unhealthy things. Additionally, there’s less physical activity, more fast food outlets, adverts promoting ‘junk food’… the list of factors is long, according to the dietician.

I can only imagine the worry an overweight child may cause to all involved, but especially to the child, who, as far as I am concerned, needs the help of us grownups to have a healthy and balanced childhood, no matter how thrown off and imbalanced the world around us may be.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of September 23rd 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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