Going to the waist

CHOCOLATE AND CHIPS It's not children alone who reach for them

CHOCOLATE AND CHIPS It's not children alone who reach for them   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: RAJU V.

Adults with children munch more carbs and guzzle more fat, thanks to leftovers

Forget the bicycles, over-sized toys, video games, comics and clothes, it's the kitchen cupboards that tell you there are kids in the house. Chips, murrukkus, thattais, mixtures of the snacking kind, noodles and cakes on the shelves? Bingo! Not sure? Check out the fridge. More evidence in tubs of ice cream, frozen candies, Popsicles, chocolates... Alas, hiding behind the goodies is the bitter truth: it's not kids alone who reach for them.In a memorable cartoon strip in MAD magazine, a weary woman tells her friend: "John loves steak and potatoes, my son wants pizza all day and my daughter is on baked stuff and salads." What do you eat, asks the friend. The woman replies, "Leftovers."

What the study says

You really don't need a study of 6,000 people to prove it: having kids in the house makes you fatter. For records, the study confirmed that adults with children consumed nearly five more grams of fat and 1.7 more grams of saturated fat every day, the equivalent of an extra pizza. Grown-ups living with children younger than 17 munched more carbs and guzzled more fat. Scary!Totally, said Sujatha Ramesh, watching her children Abhinaya and Adithya romp around on the beach. "Both want crispies when they come from school. There's always fried stuff in my dabbas. Cake, yes, that too. My son picks up the creamy layer and who do you think swallows the rest? Can't waste, you know." It is much the same when they take off on an outing. Within a kilometre, "Mom, I'm hungry!" and we head to the nearest bakery or fast-food outlet. Amusement parks don't allow you to carry food inside." Even where they can, it's easier to pack finger foods. A bigger worry, said Sujatha, was lack of proper exercise. "My children have different school timings, I have to drop and fetch them, see to their home-work and when I bring them out to the beach or park, I have to keep an eye on them. It's no longer safe, you know." Veda Ramanathan who raised her kids in a protected industrial estate agreed. "I would leave them in the maidan and go for my walk. In the city I had to watch them all the time. Till they finished school, my calorie-burning was confined to the kitchen and the grocery store.""Most children now grow on a diet of munchies, fried snacks, noodles and pizza, so alien to our genetic make-up," said Paediatrician Dr. Priya Chandrasekar. "You know mozzarella has the highest calorific value per unit? How many children have fresh veggies in their lunch boxes? On a picnic? Strapped for time to cook, parents buy over-the-counter, convenience foods with hidden sugar and fat." Of course, parents also store these food items because they think their children like them.Dr. Priya would like to see menus that are nutritious for the entire family. Difficult, said Sujatha. "They see what others have in their lunch packs. Rice and veggies? They'll go for veggie puffs instead." Dr. Priya warns about the Q syndrome that makes us genetically prone to heart diseases and BP. "It's compounded by a bad lifestyle and eating leftovers." She believes it is not only the wife who can't bear to tip food scraps into the garbage bin, but also husbands who are as willing to polish off the extra batch of vadas made for children. Veda thinks it depends on the individual. "Yes, we do buy oily comestibles when we go out. But someone who is weight-conscious should have no problem dumping leftovers." Agrees Counsellor Mohana Narayan.

Functional garbage can

"If you're more conscious about wastage than weight, you double as a functional garbage can. I am not the kind who would serve herself the last chapati or the last ladle of rice, or turn the pot over my plate, simply because it would go waste! I'm lazy about exercise, but definitely careful about what I eat!""Advertising aimed at children may influence not only the child's diet but also indirectly affect parents' diets," the study pointed out. Did you notice how chocolates/crisps are arranged near the checkout counter? Watch out when you buy that big bag of crisps in the name of the child. Who is it for? Leftovers are good only when they are made into quilts.GEETA PADMANABHAN

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