What can we learn from the Famous Five?

07 May 2012

I read an article published in the Guardian recently that really captured my attention. It’s about the Famous Five and how this team of children, fictitious, but representative of children in the 1940s, were able to eat bacon and ham for breakfast, drink ginger beer and lemonade by the pint and still were able to maintain their healthy glow.

Today, bacon is considered the devil. So, what’s changed?

With a quarter of all children either overweight or obese in Australia, it’s easy to vilify one particular food group and we see it happen often – one week carbs are the single reason people are getting chunky and the saviour to our overweight woes the next.

However, the reality of why our children are experiencing the burden of weight like no other generation before them is likely to be far more complex.

My guess is that it sits somewhere between the way we eat and the environment in which we’re eating it. Recent data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 40% of children aged between 5-14 years spent more than 20 hours each fortnight watching television and one in ten spent the equivalent of a whole week each month playing computer games.

You wouldn’t catch Dick, Julian, Anne and George (and the honorary fifth member – Timothy the dog) lounging at home completing a Hannah Montana marathon. But it wasn’t just the fact they were active that kept them in such good condition, the way in which they ate was also significant. Their actual eating style was a healthy one. Usually the band of five ate together (mostly picnic style) and took time to enjoy the simplicity of their meals. Numerous studies have shown that people who eat together are more likely to eat more nutritious meals, but are also less likely to smoke, feel depressed or develop eating disorders.

It seems like the Famous Five were able to put into practice what we’ve all been aiming for – the holy grail of nutrition. Moderation.

Full copy of The Guardian article can be found here.

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