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Bad parental habits will turn unfit children into obese adults

JAKARTA -- Nothing compares to a parent's affection, not even the excessive food they heap on their children.

Those who grew up obese in Indonesia say the outlandishly large meals they were served during their childhood brought them nothing but poor self-esteem and unfit bodies.

Fransisca, 23, who weighed in at 90 kilograms eight years ago, said she used to have problems breathing and she fell down a lot when doing light exercise.

Her appearance also made caused her to be more introverted.

“I was fat since I was a little girl because my parents were busy working and I was left with my housemaid, who loved to give me deep-fried snacks,” she said.

She says she also had her first heartbreak around that time.

Fransisca now works as a teacher for autistic children. She said her life turned around when she grew older and became took more responsibility for her life.

The next time Fransisca fell in love, she forced herself to exercise rigorously for four hours a day, five days a week, for two years.

“I lost 20 kilograms but I suffered from nausea all along,” she said, recalling her misguided diet in 2007.

Fransisca, who stands 162 centimeters tall and weighs 70 kilograms, said she was more comfortable with herself now.

Obesity is generally estimated through measuring body mass index (BMI), which is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters.

In Indonesia, a child is defined as overweight if they lie on or above the 95th percentile of BMI for the child's age.

The Health Ministry says that in 2007, the prevalence of obesity among children between the age of six and 14 was 9.5 percent for boys and 6.4 percent for girls. These figures are much higher than the 4 percent recorded in 1990.

Armand, 23, who is 170 centimeters tall, said that as a boy, he grew accustomed to eating canned food, sausages and other high-calorie meals served by his family's housemaid.

“When I was in kindergarten, I weighed 50 kilograms,” said Armand, who just finished graduate studies in theology this year.

When Armand was a teenager, he said he started to fix his eating habits. As a result, during high school he maintained his weight at 78 kilograms.

He added that when he began to live on his own during university, he dropped back into an unhealthy lifestyle, including eating meals late at night and consuming sugar-rich snacks. His weight soon ballooned to 130 kilograms.

Armand said he did not have any problems with his appearance but began to rethink his unhealthy lifestyle when he accidentally found out that he had hypertension.

“My blood pressure was extremely high,” he said, adding that he immediately sought the advice of a doctor, who told him to exercise.

“I enjoy my life as it is, but I don't want to die young,” Armand said, adding that his father, who was also overweight, died of a heart attack at the age of 42.

1 Comment
August 3, 2010    sue@
Parents are role models in everything that they do and say so they need to model good, healthy eating habits and taking regular exercise. Food is often used to comfort and heal emotional pain or boredom so it's all about teaching children to recognize when they feel full by eating slowly and consciously, and noticing the triggers that make them over eat.
It's all about getting the balance right really isn't it?
Sue Atkins
Author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies"
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