As a father of five, Dr. David Katz, M.D. is concerned about his kids’ health. And as a doctor, he’s seeing a lot of men who are too busy or unconcerned to exercise – which is creating a generation of obese kids, since children mimic what they see their parents doing.
“Eat well and be active — for their sake,” says Katz. “Be part of their solution or you will be part of their problem.”
As an overweight person myself, I initially wanted to tell Dr. Katz to shove it. I’ve spent my son’s short lifetime getting him on the right track: we pack his meals with fruits and vegetables, use whole grains when possible, and even do smaller things like only offer him water and not juice. We’ve had him in gym classes and activities since three months old. But, as he gets older, he’s probably going to wonder why he’s so small and dad’s so big.
It takes – excuse the pun – a big man to admit when he’s wrong. And I’m wrong.
And though Dr. Katz argues some things that I’d initially call for stats on: “We know that women, wives, mothers tend to do the heavy lifting when it comes to medical care, preventive services and diet,” for example. Or: “Men often turn up at their own medical appointments only because a wife or girlfriend ‘made them’ do it.” In people I know personally, I’ve seen the opposite – but he’s the doc and has seen many more patients than me. Since, of course, I don’t see any patients.
So I’m willing to meet Dr. Katz in the middle for some of this – and for other statements, back him all the way. “Let your kids know that you want them to eat well because you love them…then, make a conscious effort to eat well, too. No need to make perfect the enemy of good — just some movement,” Katz says.
“Physical activity is even easier. Just walk the literal walk,” Katz continues. “Be active with your kids. The older and more capable they become, the greater the options, but you can start when they’re still in the cradle.”
My family tries to go to the park with our son as much as possible. And as he gets older, he’s into more physical action and sports. It makes me happy to see that my son is excited to kick a soccer ball around with me, and whenever the ball goes astray and I begin to think about how far I’ve got to run to go get it – that’s when I know it’s the most important to hoof it out and go for it.
Thanks to Dr. Katz for reminding me, and hopefully some other less active dads, that we’ve got a lot to live for, and in protecting ourselves from obesity and diabetes, we are also fathering-up and inspiring our kids to do the same.