Last night, we watched BBC’s India’s Super Size Kids.
It was a scary watch,to say the least. They followed the lives of two young people. A 13 year old and a 20 year old. Both of them obese and addicted to fast food. The program was following the impact of Western fast food joints that have mushroomed in the Indian cities and how it has resulted in the obesity crisis among the adolescents of India.
While I am sure that the fast food and the general eating out culture has a lot to do with the crisis, I was more appalled by the attitude of some of the parents,who saw nothing wrong in their children being overweight or eating badly. And these weren’t the uneducated or people who wouldn’t know better, these were parents who should have known better, who should have the tools necessary to find out more.
It reminded me of a family we met in India. Their teenage daughter looked overweight to me, not obese, but definitely overweight. In the conversation, the mother talked about wanting to buy the best for her children. It made me wonder, what the ‘best’ was, when the she said that she loved it that her house was centrally situated to two KFC outlets.
Another friend was telling me about a friend of her’s who would make gulab jamuns in ghee for her daughter, on a regular basis, until they realized that they had an overweight 10 year old on their hands.
Daughter’s school had some performance night, and I remember being a little surprised that the children(adolescents mainly) seemed a little on heavier side. Another mum told me that it was because all that children want to eat these days is junk food.
I’ve heard parents proudly claiming that they want to give their children ‘everything they didn’t have while growing up’. It makes me wonder if that attitude has more to do with the current crisis. Pampering with food and inactivity. Every wish of theirs pandered to.
While I am sure the fast food outlets do need to be responsible, surely, we as parents, have a bigger responsibility to ensure that our children are eating right? We all love our children, and sometimes, that love might mean that we have to stop them from doing things that our children might love, if it’s not right for them. And really, it is far easier if we start off right, rather than having to set things right after things have gone horribly wrong.
As I read this back, I do feel that I’ve been rather judgemental. Probably because, the feeling I got was that eating out regularly at junk food outlets, seem to be aspirational not just for the kids but also for the parents. And that saddened me, so much so that I woke up still thinking about those kids who are eating their way to bad health.