Australian children lack healthy role models who walk the talk, according to an international report released today.
Bupa Health Pulse Survey 2012 reveals seven in 10 Australian parents who are overweight or obese believe they are a top source for their children’s education about living a healthy lifestyle.
Interestingly, despite not getting it right themselves, almost two thirds (63%) of these parents discuss the importance of eating well with their children, and just over half (54%) talk to their kids about getting enough exercise.
Health Pulse results indicate the number one health concern for parents is that their children don’t have a healthy diet, followed by their children not getting enough exercise. This outranks other concerns such as children getting into accidents or developing a disease or illness.
Bupa’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Bates said parents were in danger of sending mixed signals by acting in contradictory ways to the health lessons they were trying to teach.
“We need to ensure that parents are properly equipped to pass along the right health messages so that children lead healthier lifestyles and that parents feel comfortable enough to lead by example,” Dr Bates said.
Alarmingly, one in 10 parents surveyed don’t speak to their children about their health at all and rate other family members, school, the internet and the media as key sources for their children’s health messages.
International swimming champion and father to an 11 month old, Geoff Huegill understands kicking bad habits can seem like an uphill battle.
“I know firsthand just how easy it is to become complacent about diet and exercise, but as a new father I’ve come to value my health habits more than ever,” Huegill said.
“My daughter is less than a year old, but she’s already watching my every move, so I can see how it would be contradictory for me to eat take-away food in front of the TV while telling her she should live a healthy lifestyle.
“It might seem like bad habits are impossible to shake, but it’s amazing how little steps towards a healthier lifestyle can make a really big difference. Parents are incredibly time poor and their first priority is usually caring for their family, but putting the effort into making changes to their own lives can help their children follow in their footsteps.”
The survey also revealed that close to six in 10 Australians (57%) believe they were healthier as youngsters than children are today.
On a positive note, almost half of parents (49%) talk to their children about their emotions. This is a significant shift, with only 19% of today’s parents claiming to have had this type of dialogue with their own parents when growing up.
For more information about Bupa’s services and health assessment tools, visit www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness.
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