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Linking lifestyle follies and health hazards

Sadly, a child’s decision to guzzle cans of soft drinks every day is the result of the leverage a parent grants

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The report published last week in the Journal of Paediatrics, one of the most respected research and peer-reviewed papers in the domain of children’s health, is clear: A five-year-old is more likely to kick, punch and holler his way through his days if he is consuming soft drinks regularly. Even one can a day can raise his levels of hyperactivity. It is the kind of information every parent must make a serious note of because, it is a corollary to another glaring truth of our times: That we have wasted enough time playing truant from making the basic connection between our lifestyle follies and the negative impact it has on our health.

It is bad enough that adults are guilty of this lapse, but it is inexcusable that they make their children stakeholders in their dereliction of responsibility. A child’s decision to guzzle cans of soft drinks every day is not an act of self-determination — it is the result of the leverage a parent, knowingly, grants his or her child. Given the rising rates of obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes and other health issues in children, it is imperative that parents question their role in how their offsprings are so misguidedly eating and drinking their way to health problems at an early age.

The era we live in is rife with competing ironies in terms of parenting styles — from the micromanaging ‘helicopter’ run to the AWOL, hands-off approach and many faddisms in between. In expending their energies on these committed pursuits, many parents seem to have dispensed with commonsense child-rearing in terms of health and nutrition.

The fact that a high sugar consumption depletes Vitamin B from the body, or that caffeine directly engages with our brain and nerves in a short-lived romance — followed by a bitter fallout — or that preservatives are friendly to no one except to the contents in a tin can are not classified secrets. A five-year-old may not be aware of these truths. Parents, however, should make it their business to be.