You spend your day worrying about every calorie your son consumes, dreading every bag of potato chips he buys, trying fruitlessly to convince him to exercise daily – if your son is one of the 1.6 million overweight children in Canada, this situation would be familiar to you. At such a juncture, the question then is what are your options if you want your son to lead a healthy life? If your son is below the age of ten, he is too young for Weight Watchers. So you decide to try your luck in the gleaming, scary confines of Dr. Bernstein Health and Diet Clinic. Though the fact that a boy lost 52 pounds in just three-and-a-half month inspires confidence, what worries you, is the fact that your little boy would be administered 3 vitamin-B shots a week and would have to be under a strict diet that leaves no room for mistakes!
The director of the Pediatric Centre for Weight and Health at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, Geoff Ball, points out that out of the 1.6 million obese children in Canada, only about a thousand come in for weight management. In addition, the fact that there are fewer than 20 non-profit pediatric obesity centers in the country does not help matters. So the question that haunts us is, what happens to the other over a million overweight children in the country? In most cases, families who can afford the expense are registered with dieticians who can guide the family through the rocky path of helping their obese children lead a normal, healthy life. While some family doctors go on to provide diet charts for the children, it has been found by researchers that the majority of doctors do not bother themselves with it. Harried parents even have the option of claiming up to $500 for the expenses of every child under the age of 16, points out Claude Rocan optimistically, who is the director-general of the Centre for Health Promotion at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Apart from this new federal Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, parents also have the option of downloading copies of Canada’s Food Guide and other resources at its website, hc-sc.gc.ca. However, the fact remains that while these options may help to prevent further obesity in children, it could hardly help the 26 percent of Canadian children who are already under the curse of obesity.