The Big Fat Surprise

The Big Fat Surprise

Would you give your child a cigarette to smoke or alcohol to drink?  Of course not! But what parents often fail to realize is that they are giving their kids something just as harmful. On a daily basis, parents allow their children to eat large portion sizes, second helpings and “junk food” EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Here is the truth: Overeating, junk food, and the like pushes your child into obesity and ill health. That leads to a life on diabetes medication and far higher risks of cancer, heart disease, infertility and an early death. If that sounds horrible, that’s because it is!

Obesity in young children has become a huge concern.  We are living in the middle of an obesity epidemic. Over the past 20 years ‘childhood obesity has tripled. This is in large part to the abundance of fast food, larger portion sizes, and a low emphasis on physical activity in day to day life. This high level of calorie consumption coupled with lower than ever activity levels equals OVERWEIGHT and SICK kids.


Glenn Berall, who in addition to his U of T appointments is Head of Paediatrics at North York General Hospital and a staff member in the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at The Hospital for Sick Children, says childhood obesity is something that we must take seriously. That’s because overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults. Dr. Berall states that each successive year, the number of kids who show up in his office with weight-related illnesses increases more now than ever before.

“We’re seeing kids with diabetes, high cholesterol levels and metabolic syndrome (a condition that carries with it raised blood pressure, glucose intolerance and a greater risk of heart disease).”

Berall believes childhood is the crucial time to address obesity.

“We really can’t afford to sit back at the peril of our children’s future health – and the costs to the healthcare system will be scary if we don’t do something about it.”

If Parents don’t change their habits, kids won’t!  The best way to improve nutrition is to make it fun and inclusive and have everyone participate together as a family.  Replacing junk food with healthier choices like whole-grain pasta, bread, and cereals, along with vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These foods have what experts call a “low glycemic index.” Because they have more fiber than other carbohydrates, they are metabolized in the body at a slower rate, keeping blood-sugar levels more stable and making kids feel more satisfied.

The focus is not about making your kids thin; the focus is making your kids healthy. Feed your kids nutritious food and get them moving! Take them on a hike, have a dance off with them, throw the Frisbee, or kick the soccer ball—whatever it is just get out and get moving. All Kids deserve good nutrition and daily exercise. Making it a fun, family affair can encourage them to partake in it on a daily basis. 

So what does this have to do with Employee Health Benefits?

Good question. Don’t worry—we do have an answer! Starting your kids off with a healthy lifestyle, and teaching them from an early age is a huge stepping stone on the path to a healthier, happier adult life. By teaching them these principles now you can create strong habits that they stick with throughout adulthood. This translates into a healthy employee for employers which results in lower premiums, lower drug costs, and of course, a happier, healthier workplace!

An investment from you as a parent in your child’s health can set the stage for a happier, healthier adult life! By starting now, you can help them to live a longer, balanced lifestyle—and who doesn’t want that for their children?

DespinaWilliams023_WEBsmall-sDespina has specialized in benefit plans for over 12 years since joining the Dupuis Langen Group in September 2004.  As VP of the Employee Benefits Division, and with her years of experience, she is confident she can customize benefit plans for even the most challenging industries, such as community services, long-term care, community living, mining, and energy resource. Despina’s number one goal is to find workable benefit plan for organizations in any sector.