In most homes, parents do the majority of grocery shopping and cooking. Children eat meals prepared by a parent and snack on foods their parents and siblings enjoy. The same goes for physical activity. When parents and siblings are active, children are more likely to be active.
Eating and exercise habits are learned. Studies show that children who eat together more often with their families are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits and weight problems, just as families who play together stay healthy together.
Understanding the significant role parents and siblings play in establishing healthy behaviours in children, Medavie Health Foundation partnered with Brigadoon Children’s Camp Society to support the development of a camp for families seeking support in living active, healthy lifestyles.
Health & Wellness Family Camp
Brigadoon’s new Health & Wellness Family Camp brought together children aged 9 to 12 living with excess weight or obesity and their parents and siblings for a fun, educational and supportive summer camp. But the camp provided more than the usual advice people often hear, which is to eat less and move more to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Rather, it focused on the whole family in addressing weight control through nutrition and physical activity, while providing support in adopting healthy eating and active living behaviours into their daily routine.
For example, sitting down to a meal as a family puts increased focus on food and eating, and provides parents a platform for teaching healthy eating habits. And since overweight children tend to become overweight or obese adults with an increased risk of a range of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, it’s important to instill healthy behaviours at a young age – healthy behaviours that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Campers were also provided with community resources to help them maintain a healthy, active lifestyle at home.
When everyone’s involved, healthy living is indeed a family affair.
Healthy Habits for Healthy Families
- Make grocery shopping a fun, learning experience – try a new fruit or vegetable
- Make mealtime a family activity – include everyone in preparing meals
- Keep weeknight meals simple – healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming
- No TV, games, toys or gadgets during meals – rather, focus on food, eating and family time
- Pack healthy snacks including water to avoid the fast-food line – you’ll also save time and money
- Schedule physical activity – take turns choosing an activity the whole family will enjoy
- Get outside – we tend to be more active when we’re outdoors
- Exercise at home – go for a neighbourhood walk or play basketball in the driveway