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‘Latchkey children’ at home alone need something nutritious to eat

When children are home alone, what are they to do when the hunger pangs hit them in the pit of their stomach? Grab a bag of potato chips? Munch on junk food until their parents return?
 Dr. Timothy Moore

In these troubled economic times, working parents with little recourse, or none at all, often leave their children home alone for substantial periods of time. They are referred to as “latchkey children” who care for themselves while their parents are at work.

The facts were substantiated in a 2002 Census survey, which reported that 5.8 million (15 percent) of all children between the ages of five and 14 and living with a mother, care for themselves an average of 6.3 hours per week, and 65 percent of those children spent 2 to 9 hours home alone.

When children are home alone, what are they to do when the hunger pangs hit them in the pit of their stomach? Grab a bag of potato chips? Munch on junk food until their parents return? America is a country of abundance, but more food is thrown out every day. America’s excessive waste, I believe, could feed every hungry person in the United States.

Eating chips, cookies and candy rather than a good wholesome meal can lead to obesity. According to a recent news report, there is an “obesity epidemic.” If it continues unchecked by the year 2030, the obesity rate in adults will double and affect 50 percent of the adult population.

The thought of this alarming statistic makes me cringe. If children were fed unhealthy meals before they reach adulthood, they’d be inundated with a number of illnesses, such as depression, anger, anxiety, social withdrawal, resentment, and addiction to video games.

Recently, I talked with the mother of a 300-pound daughter who always was hungry when she arrived home from school. The mother wondered if something could be done to help her daughter, who would eat lunch at 10:30 a.m., and by the time school was dismissed for the day, she would be hungry again.

Here’s what I suggested the mother do to quiet her daughter’s hunger pangs: Fix a nutritious breakfast and a nutritious snack to take to school. By the time she gets home from school, she won’t be as hungry. The weight will come down and both parent and child will be happy for it.

Children become overweight when parents forget about the importance of a nutritious meal – whether it’s prepared at home, a restaurant, or at school. We rely too much on quick and easy solutions when it comes to the food we eat. My point is this: When children are home alone and hungry, they may be forced to eat unhealthy snacks or quick microwave meals.

Are you a working parent who sets aside quick meals that can be prepared in about 3 to 5 minutes when your children are home alone? If you are concerned about your children’s health, and their weight in particular, you might want to read the ingredients on food labels if you’re as health-conscious as I am.

If your children are overweight and becoming morbidly obese, you might want to take nutrition seriously. A good diet regimen is key to keeping your children healthy and fit. Medicating your children is not a cure for their bad eating habits, either. In actuality, some prescribed medication may cause more harm than good.

There is nothing wrong with an apple, pear, watermelon, honeydew melon, nectarine, lettuce, greens, green beans, spaghetti squash, brown rice, Kale, and a host of other fresh fruit and vegetables that are proven to reverse a lot of childhood diseases – including obesity. Don’t be afraid to leave your children with fruit and vegetables, if they’re home alone.

So parents, if you’re at work and your children are home alone after school, you’d better have something nutritious for them to eat. Or they’ll grow as plump as a Butterball turkey.

(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)


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