There is no question obesity is a rising problem for many here in the United States. The United States Center for Disease Control rates obesity as a person having a body mass index of 30 or greater. The body mass index, or BMI for short, is calculated based on the person’s height and weight and provides a reasonable indication of body fat, which could lead to further health issues.
You can simply calculate your own BMI right where you are sitting or standing. Take your weight in pounds and divide it by your height in inches, squared, multiplied by 703. The formula would look like this:
BMI = Weight(pounds) / (Height(inches) x Height(inches)) x 703.
To put in perspective just how great the problem is, in 2009 Colorado was the lowest BMI at 18.6% while Mississippi topped the list at 34.4%. Obesity has become such a big issue in this country, especially childhood obesity that it has become a topic to tackle by first lady Michelle Obama. Without getting into much politics, obesity of all age categories is definitely something we should and can easily tackle.
I recently posted this very question on our vegetable gardening Facebook page to see what kind of ideas the good folks came up with. Specifically the question that I raised was how we can tackle obesity in our children by incorporating vegetable gardening. The answers were many…too many to list here so I am going to mention the most popular ones.
Many agreed that starting children early in teaching them vegetable gardening will go a long way for them to learn healthy eating habits. As one person wrote, “When they see that they can eat what they are growing, virtually anything they consume from their gardens will be healthy.”
Make It Fun
I see this in my own children if you do not keep it fun and light you will lose their attention and quickly. So those studies about the length of time and the amount attention span and a child has, are very accurate. We all agreed that making vegetable gardening fun is a great way to keep kids involved in vegetable gardening. One of the things I did personally for my son was buy him his own garden tool set. Sure they are toys, but he has the same tools as “dad” and when dad gets the shovel, so does he. It makes him feel involved.
When it comes time to harvest the fruits, herbs and vegetables I make sure that I get my son involved. For smaller items such as radishes and cherry tomatoes I let him do the picking. For larger items such as butternut squash, I will pick them and let him carry it to our patio table. I can see the excitement in his eyes every time we go out to pick new things.
Give Them Their Own
A popular post, especially for the older kids (7 and over), is to let them have their own 4’x4’ plot in your yard where they can plant whatever they want. This is a great method because you can teach them how to plan out the garden so they can maximize the space and grow things they like. My son loves broccoli. Yeah I know I got lucky, and every year we plant two Waltham Broccoli plants just for him. I make sure I tell him that those plants are his and when they are ready he can eat them. He gets pretty excited about it. It is a lot of fun to watch!
Finally, and just as important as the healthy eating of the fruits, vegetables and herbs that you grow is the exercise factor you get from home vegetable gardening. If you do a lot of the gardening tasks manually as I do, then you already know that it can be a good vigorous exercise routine. It is not always this way, everyday, but at least you are moving around, doing somewhat physical labor as opposed to sitting and watching TV, playing video games and so on. The same holds true for kids.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, who operates the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook and the widely popular Seeds of the Month Club.