Health Care for all?

Editor’s Note

Eat, Drink and Stay Healthy

Why does it seem so difficult to get children to eat properly?

I remember an incident when my son was four and we went out to dinner with my brother. My son ordered what I had come to think of as a perfectly acceptable meal — spaghetti (with no red sauce), garlic bread (with no garlic or butter), white milk and vanilla ice cream for dessert. My brother, who was not around many young children, found this “all-white dinner” to be quite amazing and still tells the story to this day.

Thinking about it now, what I find even more amazing is that I was totally nonplussed by my brother’s reaction. I hadn’t even noticed that several of the food groups were missing. My son was a fairly finicky eater and when he found things he liked that even bordered on nutritionally sound, I was thrilled. Having him eat almost anything simply made mealtime so much more pleasant.

Today, of course, what children eat or don’t eat is at the forefront of nearly every parent’s mind — with good reason. American children, like their parents, are getting fatter and fatter. And as the scales creep higher, the accompanying health problems get more severe. Not only has the incidence of type 2 diabetes reached nearly epidemic proportions in some communities, a number of experts warn that heart attacks or kidney failure could become a relatively common condition of young adulthood unless some drastic lifestyle changes are made.

What needs to change? Local pediatricians and nutritionists would opt first for more physical activity, accompanied by a healthy dose of nutrition education. Even in towns like ours, where so many kids play on soccer, basketball or hockey teams, children still have a lot of downtime with free access to well-stocked kitchen cupboards.

Schools have felt the pressure to help out and have responded by providing healthier lunches and eliminating vending machines stocked only with snacks and drinks full of  empty calories. There is also a new awareness of the importance of physical education.
But teaching youngsters to make healthy choices about food and exercise is not something that you can focus on for a week or even a month and then forget about.

 “You need to create lifelong healthy habits,” says Dr. George Tsimoyianis of Darien. For more on this very topical subject, don’t miss “Supersized Kids” by Beth Longware Duff.

To help get everyone up and moving while the weather is still good, turn to “Take a Hike” for detailed information on five hikes of varying degrees of difficulty that are within easy driving distance of our area. Author Christopher Brooks and his wife, Catherine, who supplied the photographs and maps that accompany the article, are experts in this field. So if these treks pique your interest, you’ll want to check out their book 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of New York City, published by Menash Ridge Press.

Of course, there’s more, including our cover story on the building boom in Rowayton, and a look at an exhibit of photographs from Afghanistan that will open soon at Norwalk Community College.

It’s a jam-packed issue that I trust you will enjoy.

P.S. And just to finish my opening story, my  now-adult son eats absolutely everything. He also is something of a gourmet cook — making mealtimes with him truly delightful.

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