It’s lunch time in a middle school in California. At one of the many lunch tables, a group of girls are talking about an upcoming field trip while finishing up their sandwiches and salads. Amidst the field trip discussion, one of the girls exclaims to another “You are so lucky. You can eat a whole sandwich by yourself and not get fat. You are lucky to be so thin.”

She then almost hesitantly tells her friend “Everyone keeps saying I am so fat. At home they always keep telling me to stop eating. I cannot help it you know. I feel hungry. I wish I could eat like you and still be thin. “

The girl eating the sandwich understands her friends dilemma. She keeps her half eaten sandwich back in the bag almost as a respect to her friend. She is still more hungry though. Back home, she tells her mom about the conversation at lunch.

After thinking for a while, the mom tells her daughter to do two things. One, to make a deal with her friend that for the remainder of the school year they will pick their choice of healthy ingredients for a salad or a sandwich for the school next day. They will plan their lunch, make it perhaps and eat it together everyday.

Two, they would take a brisk walk on the school tracks everyday after lunch.

Will this help? Yes, to whatever extent it can. It will do one thing for sure, bring in more ownership from kids about what they choose to eat.

This is not an unusual, unheard  story. Childhood obesity is on the rise. But keeping our kids on diet is not the answer. Instead have them eat healthy and burn those calories. Ask them to run a mile, play a sport, mow the lawn, walk the dog, swim a lap or do chores around the house. All of which will help. Help them to make smart choices. Encourage them to help other’s make smart choices. Talk to them to feel good about themselves.