How important is it to encourage our children to develop healthy eating and exercise habits? A fascinating study recently published in the online journal Nature reveals the lifelong effects of childhood obesity.

It turns out that you're stuck with the number of fat cells you have acquired by about age twenty. Even extreme weight-loss strategies, such as bariatric surgery, do not reduce your number of existing fat cells.

People gain and lose weight at least in part by changing how much fat is in their fat cells. Obese people, however, can have twice as many fat cells as their lean counterparts, which explains why it is so easy for them to gain back weight that they have lost.

The findings of this study suggest that the focus for controlling obesity should be on children. If the number of fat cells is capped by age twenty, then the smart approach is to prevent their formation in children.

Isn't it amazing how the more we learn about the workings of the body, the more clearly we see how the physical reality mirrors its spiritual equivalent?

A person's constitution is determined during his or her formative childhood years, and the effects of the habits he or she learns in these years can never be completely reversed—only controlled through strong self-discipline.

If we want our children to be spiritually fit for life, we have to get them into the habit of living a spiritually healthy lifestyle while they are yet young. There are no guarantees; even a child with healthy habits can choose to behave otherwise. But as parents it is our responsibility to ensure that we give our children an edge, a constitution that is conducive for a spiritually fit lifestyle.