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Parents Need to Gift Themselves With a Real 'Call of Duty' This Festive Season!

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So as usual everyone is a little heavier than they were before the Christmas blowout-and the Boxing Day feast - and the left over turkey sandwiches with Pork Pie and trifle and Xmas pud and mince pies with brandy cream. At Christmas it seems we must consume some of all the traditional treats. It never seems to be enough because nowadays even too much just isn't enough!

In between the eating will be the gift giving and receiving. The number one gift for adolescents is unsurprisingly computer games. The pattern of less and less physical exercise for the kids continues this year too then. There are also 17% more fast food 'restaurants' in the UK than this time last year so we can clearly see despite any hyperbole we have heard to the contrary that no proposed government initiative to curb obesity is really being effective at all. More calories consumed for any period requires more exercise during and after that period to maintain or return to normal weight. It's very easy to understand then how the obesity crisis will continue to grow.

A little known fact is that all of us, even those on a fairly healthy diet and who take some exercise fairly regularly on average put on a pound a year every year continuously after the age of 28 for the rest of our lives - don't do the maths - its frightening! This can be justified perhaps by looking at this fact as just age slowing us down a little but then take a look at the average sedentary youngsters of today, already a little heavier and lazier than they should be and do the math for their future. The average man in the 1970s consumed more calories a day than we do now yet the average man in his twenties now is fatter than his father was. The quality of the food consumed in the 70s was also much higher in terms of being real food in the true definition of the word.

Today more chemicals are consumed in the form of microwavable meals and burger bar take outs so more debilitating symptoms of poor nutrition are evident as well as being merely fat. ADHD, arthritis, anaemia, diabetes and rickets are just the tip of the slippery iceberg that's floating through our playgrounds. Just 7% of the population in the 1970s was classified as obese but now it's a whopping 26% and I truly believe that is very conservative. We all eat less but are all getting bigger-seems the kids are not the only ones playing on the ps3 instead of moving around more.

The majority of PlayStations and games are also purchased online nowadays too so we don't even have to walk to the store buy them! Labour-saving devices, products and services coupled with readymade meals mean more of us are turning into battery hens with everything we need just a click of a mouse or the flick of a switch away. January will see millions of us joining a gym only to drop off by February disillusioned that our 12 months of digestive abuse and physical negligence can't be corrected with 20 days of sweating and slimming shakes.

Parents need to try much harder to stick with a program in order to be a role model for their own children. For anyone who has worked or spent time with special needs, seriously ill or disabled kids you will be familiar with their parents periodically breaking down and looking at you or the heavens to ask; "Why me? Why have I been given a child with spinal problems or cancer?" There is of course no answer. Except to consider that throughout my numerous tours of schools in every province lecturing on healthy eating and exercise I have never heard a parent ask why they were given a perfectly healthy child-only to abuse that privilege and see fit to assist or enable the child to stuff itself silly on junk foods and live the life of a semi-disabled person, rarely moving from one chair in front of a screen or monitor.Unwilling to use the swings or the roundabout at the park which so many sick children will never do.

Just think about that for a minute. Consider if you could never see your children play football or swim how you would feel? Yet thousands of us don't bother to do these things or do so less and less. So you have a choice. If not for your sake then for little David's or Brittany's sake-do the right thing and put a limit on Game Station time equalled by activity play time. An apple eaten for every chocolate consumed. It really is that simple to change things. It doesn't have to be colossal change just different choices to begin with; the apple instead of the muffin, the healthy recipe magazine instead of the gossip filled rag, a walk around the block instead of slumping in front of Corrie and Emmerdale, a family picnic with freshly made sandwiches instead of a trip to the Golden arches-it's up to you which choices you make but know that you will be the sum of them in years to come and so will your children. It's up to you. It always has been.

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