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What can our children learn from history?

Everyday, we entrust the education of our children to what we hope is a quality education system.

We send them to school to learn about Maths, English, Science, Social Issues, and History.

We send them to school to learn the skills that will stand them in good stead for a long, successful and happy life.

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We send them to schools where highly trained teachers model them over many years into the young adults we hope them to be.

As our children leave the school system and take their place in the world, too many of them still have no idea about nutrition, healthy food choices, or the implications that poor nutrition has on their long term health. As a consequence, far too many school leavers are already overweight, greatly increasing their risk of cancer, chronic heart disease and diabetes.

So who should be responsible for teaching our children about nutrition? Are our schools doing enough to educate our children about good and bad choices? If not at school, then where do our children learn about food?

Numerous studies have been conducted to answer similar questions, and the results show:

Most of what our children know about nutrition comes from home. In fact, it has been suggested that our eating patterns are largely in place by the age of 10. This means that the best way to combat obesity in later life is to start teaching toddlers about nutrition, and then to constantly reinforce this message by being a positive role model. This offers two major benefits - as parents we give our children the best nutritional start in life, and because we are also eating healthy, we are around to enjoy our children for many years to come.

Schools have limited time and resources to teach children about correct nutrition – especially if this is not being reinforced elsewhere. A limited amount of “good nutrition” is taught in the classroom, but poor food choices are offered in the school canteen, or once the children get home from school. This sends conflicting messages, so the children must make a choice – and children prefer junk food so we know what they will choose.

Large food companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on advertising food to young impressionable “consumers”. These “consumers” (our children) are motivated by these TV adds to eat the latest and greatest product – most of which are loaded with sugar and are highly processed (i.e. little nutritional value).

Whilst our kids are bombarded with images of delicious foods, there is little on television to tell them how to make good food choices. Even worse, some companies imply that a certain product has health benefits but they ignore the fact that the majority of the ingredients are unhealthy. Our children don’t have the skills to see through this deception so many are tricked into thinking that a certain cereal or spread or soft drink is healthy for them when it clearly isn’t.

History teaches us one great lesson. If we do not learn from past mistakes, we are bound to repeat them – and pass them onto our children – for their future.

Anyone with school aged children understands just how little resources our schools have to fully educate our children in nutrition. It is therefore the role of every parent to become actively involved in learning about, then teaching and practicing good nutrition. Our future health is of such high importance that we need to ensure our children learn it somewhere. Don’t leave your child’s nutritional education to chance.

What is the point of teaching our children all about history, if they don’t have a healthy future?