Let’s Teach Our Children About Food

Let’s Teach Our Children About Food

Like many nations, Canada is experiencing an epidemic of overweight and obesity of its population. Presently, 59% of adult Canadians are considered overweight or obese, cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia being significantly higher in overweight/obesity population than the national average for adults.

Numerous health complications arise in adults with unhealthy weight levels. Obesity is an important individual and social health issue contributing to a wide variety of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and liver disease, as well as breast, colon and prostate cancer. An adult affected by obesity may have a life span 3 to 7 years less than those with healthy weight and face numerous potential medical problems during their life. The impact to the Health Care System and associated costs related to diagnosis, treatment and management for these patients is increasing every year.  In 2005, obesity-related chronic conditions accounted for $4.3 billion dollars spent in Canada, ($1.8 billion) in direct costs and ($2.5 billion) in indirect costs – a figure that may possibly be an underestimation of total costs resulting from excess weight in Canada. In the 2007 Canadian Community Health Survey, the self-reported rate of adult obesity (age 18+) was 17%. The actual rate of obesity is likely much higher, closer to 25%. Reversing obesity issues is not an easy task but the magnitude of the impact financially and in lives lost is far too big an issue to neglect.

Not surprisingly we have also seen a dramatic increase in unhealthy weights in children. The statistics from 1978 show only 15% of children were overweight or obese. In 2007, Statistics Canada found that 29% of adolescents had unhealthy weights. Although some children will outgrow the weight issue, most will not, the reality … many continue to gain excess weight. If this trend continues, by 2040, it is estimated up to 70% of adults aged 40 years will be either overweight or obese.

Obesity is difficult to reverse and public health measures should include effective prevention beginning in childhood as well as treatment, but as individuals we are ultimately responsible for our own education and lifestyles. Choosing to become proactive with our own health choices benefit our children by providing them with education, understanding and motivation to be healthy active participants. By creating healthy habits at a young age we provide them with one of the tools necessary to maintain a balanced life.

We can begin by educating our children on food … Is what we are serving at our dinner tables really healthy? We generally think of a home cooked meal as a healthy decision, but are we really sure the foods we are providing our families are the healthiest and most nutritious? How much do we know about food ourselves? We know what appeals to our taste buds but what do we really know about food and the way we eat? One person attempting to educate us and transform the way we feed ourselves and our children is world renowned chef, Jamie Oliver. Jamie has been working in and passionate about the kitchen since he was a child. Working in his father’s pub-restaurant he proved to have a precocious talent in the culinary arts and a passion for creating (and talking about) fresh, honest, delicious food. His cooking show “Naked Chef” in  the late-’90s has built him a worldwide media conglomerate of TV shows, books, cookware and magazines, all based on a formula of simple, unpretentious food that invites everyone to get busy in the kitchen.

He established his Fifteen Foundation that trains young chefs from challenged backgrounds to run four of his restaurants. He is bringing attention to the changes all people should make in their lifestyles and diet with campaigns such as Jamie’s School Dinner, Ministry of Food and Food Revolution USA combine Jamie Oliver’s culinary tools, cookbooks and television, with serious activism and community organizing — to create change on both the individual and governmental level. Sharing powerful and inspiring stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.

Jamie’s `big vision is to educate, motivate and create a change in the way we view food and how what we eat affects us all …

“Everything we do is about improving lives through better knowledge of food, where it comes from and how it affects our bodies. Whether it’s training disengaged young people to give them careers in the restaurant industry; campaigning for real food in schools; teaching kids how to grow and cook food; or teaching adults who have missed out on those skills how to cook from scratch, we want to show that making simple choices can make a big difference. It’s about making people more streetwise about food and inspiring them to reconnect with it, regardless of their background. We want to give everyone the tools, skills and knowledge to make a lasting, positive impact on their lives. Our hands-on and simple education projects reach kids as young as four years of age, through to people in their 80’s. They are about raising awareness and individual responsibility, resuscitating the dying food culture around the world and, ultimately, keeping cooking skills alive. ” Jamie Oliver

What Jamie is doing will help the world and the people in it … we just need to listen.

The following link is from TED TALKS … Jamie provides a lesson in Food Education that will surprise us with how little we really know about the foods we eat … Take a moment to watch and listen to Jamie … it could change your life!!!


Teach Every Child about Food


Please follow this link if you would like to read the transcript of Jamie’s talk …

Teach every child about food transcript



Tjepkema M. Measured Obesity: Adult obesity in Canada: Measured height and weight. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-620-MVE2005001

Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009, 2010.

Singh AS, Mulder C, Twisk JWR. (2008) Tracking of childhood overweight into adulthood: a systematic review of the literature. Obesity Reviews 9. 474 – 488.

Janssen I, Diener A. (2005) Economic Burden of Obesity in Canada



Peeters A, et al. (2003) Obesity in adulthood and its consequences for life expectancy: A life table analysis.  Annals of Internal Medicine, 138, 24 – 32


Childhood Obesity Foundation




Related Articles