The trend is now seen in Tanzania where children from affluent society of the so called executives, managers, doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, parliamentarians, lecturers and business community have children who are already over weight and obese. Unfortunately we are not growing healthy kids.
We need to do something about this phenomenon. It is not too late. Something is better than nothing. If we want to get healthier we need to exercise with our children, lose weight, we should regulate our alcohol consumption, and quit smoking.
I discourage parents to send their children to buy cigarettes, by sending a minor to buy cigarettes, you are helping the cigarette industry to perpetuate the advertisement that “Haya ndiyo maisha” when it is not, the life we need.
Today kids are flabby. They don’t have the proper cardiovascular tone. They are not physically fit. I salute the young boys and girls from Manyara and those from Wafugaji community who bring up good and in fact the best athletes have been coming from those areas. It was the geographical setting of running three and sometimes five kilometers to go to school and chasing cows and goats during their holidays that made them good athletes and physically fit.
Since the schools are close to the communities Physical Education or Training (P.E or PT) needs to be part and parcel of our children curriculum in schools. As parents we need to “Train a child in the way he/she should go, and when he/she is old will not turn from it.” Too much television certainly has an impact.
Time spent in front of the TV set is time taken away from body building, calorie burning physical activities such as bicycling, volley ball, netball, basketball, football or running. That sets the stage for excessive weight gain, which in itself is a risk factor for high blood cholesterol and heart disease.
The two famous world tennis players, Serena and Venus Williams were all couched by their father during childhood in the US, today they are the best. Mohammed Ali’s daughter Alia is a good boxer. Exercise physiologist Kate O’ Shea from the US warns that “the junior couch potato of today is the fat farm candidate of tomorrow.”
The trend now is to eat unhealthy diet the so called fast food. French fries-chips and eggs called Zege (concrete mix) chicken and chips with salt, pepper and vinegar are the foods most people eat at work or on transit when traveling.I did not know that chips made from cassava is called chips dume, I learnt that from my grand child.
Ice creams are on the market, sugared cakes and sweets are on the increase we like them, we give them to our children and create dental caries which lead to pulling out their teeth. Any good news? The good news is that children can be taught and the younger they get started, the better.
Here are some tips for building good health habits in life: daily exercises preferably outdoors for at least an hour, three meals a day if parents can afford, at regular times, porridge instead of plain tea with boiled potatoes/cassava and groundnuts for the rural community is very good breakfast we used to have. Ugali and maharage, or rice or bananas with maharage, fish, meat and green leafy vegetables.
Fruits of all kinds are important for the growth of a kid. Milk for children is ideal food whenever available. Plenty of safe and clean water to drink. Keep sodas for special occasions. Control TV. The hours a child watches TV relates directly to weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels. Laughter is a strong tonic for health, spare a little time for Ze Comedy and let your child go for reading or doing home work.
As parents we need to relate our children school performance with the number of hours spent watching TV for the Premier league. Adequate rest. Most children are chronically tired-not surprising when we remember that teenagers do best on nine hours sleep a night, and younger ones need more.
Put the kids to bed early enough so they awaken naturally in time for a healthy breakfast. Unfortunately most of our children go to school on empty stomach; this has a repercussion in school performance. Low blood sugar makes children less attentive and feels drowsy in classes. Cultivate a wide range of interests-library visit, hobbies, and family outings.
Children who spend time with parents and develop deep spiritual roots experience less stress and improved mental health. As parents we form habit of going back late and miss the privilege of talking to our children. We need to regulate on this. Set a good example. The life choices you are modeling day by day are the strongest determinants of your children’s future behaviour.
“Fitness can be fun,” says Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was President Bush’s spokesman for the council on Physical Fitness and Sports. “Stay away from junk food, get off the couch, unplug the Nintendo, turn off the TV, and go out and get some exercise. A body is a terrible thing to waste.”
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