Child Obesity – Fighting the Fat with Martin Jelinek
The latest statistics show the negative trend which most of the Western world already knows. The number of obese children is four times higher than in 1996. Five and half out of 1000 youth patients were obese in 1996. Today, doctors report this number as 20.5 per 1000 under-fifteens. The bigger shock was produced by the number in the age group 15-18, where we can see a sharp hike from 8.8 to 47 per 1000.
Many paediatricians claim this is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Computers, fast-food chains, etc. Villains are everywhere. Should we blame the parents? Is government responsible for our health?
We asked leading dietician Martin Jelínek to give us his professional opinion. Martin Jelínek is a popular lifestyle coach and a diet adviser. Himself a former professional athlete, he wrote a popular book called “Mum, Dad, Please do not kill me! “. He worked for several years as a professional adviser to the company Nutrilite, a leading vitamin brand. He is a businessman as well, and is the head coach at ATAC courses and workshops. He is a proud father of 2 children.
You are a leading lifestyle expert and you wrote the book “Mum, Dad, Please do not kill me! “ Why such a provocative title? Who do you think should read a book like this?
First of all, I wanted to write this book for my then- fifteen-year-old daughter for her birthday. I wanted the title to be provocative enough to evoke her to change her own eating habits, which as a teenager she did not want to get. After a while my friends persuaded me to publish it – and that was not my intent at all. It is chiefly aimed at teenagers, but my readers feedback shows it is read more by their parents.
One of the main reasons why children are so obese is the unhealthy lifestyle. Foreigners living in Czech are shocked by the fact, the Czechs eat fast and furious and sometimes they omit the breakfast. What should a “healthy” breakfast look like?
The term “healthy“ is very inappropriate. Every food has some characteristics that are contributive to some individuals but not to others. A better term is “purposeful”. It means it fits well with everybody individually. There are individuals who need more proteins. They can have eggs with wholegrain pastry and veggies. Others need more carbohydrates and their metabolism digests cornflakes with fruit better. That is what we call a purposeful diet.
Children have traded a ball for a computer. How do you as a former athlete motivate your children to physical activities?
My daughter is obsessed by sport, she is a professional dancer. She is a person who needs physical activity and we must sometimes hold her back so she will not get tired. My two-year-old son is luckily not on the same level, yet. The main culprits are the parents from whom children take an example. Children need a positive model and motivation. Material support is in second place.
Everybody knows the fast food restaurants are rarely healthy. What is the biggest danger for children in this area?
They should not maintain a positive relationship to such food. We have to like food and enjoy it properly. We need to understand it, too- what it can give us and what it can take from us. Fast foods lead our children only to rush and gluttony.
In the Czech Republic the system of school canteens is partly subsidised by the government. American kids protest against healthy food in canteens. Will this kind of trned be seen in future in the Czech Republic? Did you personally go to a school canteen as a teenager?
Under the former regime, as a young kid I went to the canteen but as a teenager I preferred home-cooked meals. There are two tendencies nowadays in the Czech Republic. One is a truthful copy of American lifestyle and the other (the weaker to be precise) tends to be more reasonable. Many parents who attend my workshops say they would like to afford the best for their kids, but the market does not offer it to them. Maybe we can face it as a new challenge in the future…
by Joseph Novotny for www.TheDaily.CZ