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Like Father, Like Son?

Por Lic. Isabel C. Rodríguez R.* -

Many people are unhappy with their bodies. They know obesity can cause serious consequences, such as the onset or worsening of certain chronic diseases. Still, many console themselves by thinking their obesity is caused by a genetic disorder. You'll often hear, "I'm fat because my dad was fat." Or, "Since my whole family is overweight, I just have to accept it."

Obesity is a multifaceted problem and some of the causes (such as genetics) have been thoroughly explained. Given this, genetics cannot be considered to be the main cause. It is not true to say that if the parents are overweight, the children will also be overweight.

On the contrary, if obesity runs in your family, strive to change all the other factors contributing to it.

Besides genes, overweight families also share similar eating and exercise habits. Few obese individuals have good eating habits. Eating habits are passed down from parents to children. You'll often observe that, when obese families go out to eat, they have giant servings (especially of foods rich in fats and sugars). You'll also observe that these families overemphasize the importance of food. The parents encourage their children to serve themselves at the table and have second helpings.

In addition, you won't as often see obese parents exercising with their children. They usually don’t encourage their children to participate in sports.

Families can take several steps to fight obesity. MyDiet™ suggests:

· Obesity is not merely a hereditary problem. Ask your dietitian which factors you can change.
· Plan the changes you want to make in your lifestyle. Don’t set out to change everything at once. Set small goals that are easy to reach.
· Involve your whole family in making changes. It’s a lot easier if you work together. With the help of a dietitian, plan a menu that is balanced and very appetizing for the whole family. Each month set out to switch an unhealthy food or habit for a healthy one.
· Begin a physical-activity plan involving the whole family. It doesn’t have to be a sport and you don’t have to do it for long periods of time every day. Playing games with the children, gardening, cleaning the house, walking together or dancing are all excellent alternatives!
· Applaud the achievements of each family member. Your praise will encourage them to keep up the good work.
We inherit our body build from our parents. They also instill eating habits in us. We can’t really change our body build, but we can change our lifestyle and our eating habits. This is a good time to start, don’t you think?

*Nutritionist from the MyDiet™ Team
President of the Venezuelan Society of
Nutritional Education


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