Category Archives: Parenting

Are Parents Causing Obesity?

Forget blaming schools, obsessing and fighting over healthier school lunches, or blaming the media or fast food joints. Forget suing McDonald’s for making you fat. It’s time for parents to take responsibility for raising their children, and yes, I am talking about in general. More and more, parents are pushing parenting off on schools, the media, video games, and other outlets, and then complaining that those outlets (and even other children) aren’t doing a good job of raising their kids. Really?

A PSA from the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta looks at mom, finally driving the point home without any apologies or reservations. It’s a 2 minute shot with a 5’9 foot, 300 pound man named Jim. He’s going to the emergency room, and they work frantically to save his life. Of course, with the weight and his young age, you wonder how that happened, and yes, one could blame the American obesity epidemic, which has spread even among children.

The flashback they then move onto shows poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and a mother who caters to this. The mother seems caring of course, even giving him an at-home treadmill. However, if you go back further, you see her encouraging him to be unhealthy, giving him unhealthy food, buying him candy, letting him eat sugary cereals, and giving him plenty of French fries. I’m not saying you can’t give your kids these types of foods at all, but they shouldn’t be major staples. When they’re cutting away his shirt for open heart surgery, it then ends with Your child’s future doesn’t have to look like this. I could see this as them blatantly saying moms, you’re killing your kids, stop it. The hospital has released a statement to verify:

If you’ve never regretted a parenting decision, stop reading this. Now the rest of you, gather ‘round. As parents (and humans), we’ve all made decisions that didn’t look too good in hindsight. But today, right now, we have an opportunity for a life changing do-over. It’s true. We can rewind the future by doing something differently today, and literally change our story’s ending. Of course, we’re talking about making sure our kids are as healthy as they can be. And especially if your children are still children, it’s not too late. If we make the decision to guide them in a healthier direction right now, they’ll live to be healthier, happier adults—and thank us for it.

They are telling parents they’re wrong and it’s time to change, because the way you raise your children is your fault. However, the main idea they want people to get is not it’s all your fault. It’s let’s change this so that it doesn’t continue to happen. Pediatrician Robert Pretlow MD says, Food addiction tends to start early in children because parents give food to soothe the child, ie, ‘Give him the bottle if he cries.’ Parents also give food as love to make a child happy, and they give food to obtain love back from the child. And parents give food as a reward, ie, ‘If you are good, I will get you some candy. There are plenty of factors, naturally, but these are some of the major ones.

Yes, there are fat genes, and they can affect the way you are able to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Some people do have to be stricter with themselves or work harder, but these fat genes don’t make or break you. They don’t actually make the kind of impact, leading to obesity, that people like to think. Even if you are one of the people who does have them, healthy diet and exercise can overcome (unless you have a serious medical issue). If you have certain serious medical issues, weight gain will be the least of your concerns.

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Kids Are Okay With Healthy School Lunches

Despite popular beliefs, most kids don’t actually have a problem with healthier school lunches. You would think if anybody would, it would be them. After all, kids like junk food, right? Well, yes, but at the same point, they aren’t the ones making the complaints. Apparently, it’s all us adults who want to keep them fat. Kids made early complaints, yes, but by the 2nd half of the school year, sales of school meals had gone up among disadvantaged kids.

Lindsey Turner, coauthor of the study, reported, At 70% of elementary schools across the country, school leaders perceived that students liked the new lunches. This is great news as it suggests that students generally have been quite accepting of the standards, which have substantially improved the nutritional quality of school meals.

The National School Lunch feeds 31 million students every year, and the USDA standards that they wanted to improve the quality and nutrition of school meals started between 2012 and 2013. Previous studies have focused on the challenge of creating new meal plans and the increased cost of more fruits and vegetables.

The researchers surveyed schools nationwide during Spring 2013 and got reports from 482 schools. The surveys were answered by school administrators and food service personnel. They were specifically asked if students complained about the new lunches. They reported that students were buying school lunches more often while also eating more of those lunches.

Rural schools were more likely to report complaints and children who displayed difficulty adjusting to the new foods. Nutrition is a bigger issue in rural communities, causing more concerns for nutritionists.

She stresses, It’s really helpful when messages to kids about healthy eating are consistent at home and at school, so parents can also reinforce the value of healthy eating by encouraging their kids to try new foods, especially a variety of fruits and vegetables. Parents can also support the effort to make school meals healthier by making their voices heard, and speaking up to support dietitians and food service professionals at their schools, as they are working hard to promote nutritious practices that keep kids healthy.

The bottom line is that we want healthier kids. We want kids to be healthier, happier, and well fed, and this is just a way to look at the results.

Anti-Vaccination Becomes Anti-Vitamin And Anti-Baby

When my sister’s husband said that he wouldn’t vaccinate my niece if they didn’t make it so hard to get them into school, I about slapped him silly. That is the ultimate sign to me of lazy and uneducated parenting, which unfortunately can endanger the lives, not only of those children who are not vaccinated, but others who may not be old enough for example who are exposed to them, but it’s going even further. Anti-vaxxers aren’t going to stop or bother to think now. They have recently started to reject a simple vitamin K injection that has been a standard part of newborn care for years, since the 1960’s in fact.

What happens is parents who find themselves in the emergency room with a baby with vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Chris Mooney reports, This rare disorder occurs because human infants do not have enough vitamin K, a blood coagulant, in their systems. Infants who develop VKDB can bleed in various parts of their bodies, including bleeding in the brain. This can lead to death in some cases.

The problem has been going on for a while, but really came to light just recently this spring. Tom Wilemon, writing for the Tennessean, noticed 7 babies being admitted to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in just 8 months with vitamin K deficiency bleeding. Doctors believe they were directly caused by parents refusing the injection, because apparently they’ve heard that the shot causes leukemia. Just like vaccines, which most kids get, vitamin K injections have never been proven to have this effect. In fact, followup studies disproved that theory, according to Vanderbilt doctors.

For one of the families, twins were both diagnosed with the same issue after they found out about the lack of a vitamin K shot. For the twin who had already developed bleeding though, the damage was done. Tests showed multiple brain bleeds, and he will now be undergoing physical therapy for neuromuscular development issues. They have not determined whether or not he will be mentally handicapped.

Ironically, doctors have found that women who breastfeed exclusively are under an even greater need to provide their babies with the vitamin K shot. Considering how we hold breastfeeding up like the holy grail of child care, especially in the communities where vaccinations are low, it’s a bit scary.

VKDB can show up in 2 basic forms: an early form (in the first week of life) and a late form, which is considerably more dangerous. It tends to strike between 2 and 12 weeks, and it strikes in infants who have not received vitamin K and are exclusively breastfed. The irony is that vitamin K levels are significantly lower in breast milk than in formula.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that infants who don’t get vitamin K injections are 81 times more likely to experience the late form of VKDB. This equals out to about 4.4 and 7.2 infants out of every 100,000. What we can say is that vitamin K injections do not cause cancer, but a vitamin K injection is virtually 100% protective against this brain bleed.

Can You Pass On Fast Food Habits To Your Kids?

You’re already aware that a fast food diet can cause you some serious problems. It can wreck your health and your waistline as it turns out, causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease just to start. It goes further than that though. When you eat too much fast food, you could actually alter your DNA an pass that onto your kids according to the Nutrition Journal.

To prove this, researchers gave mice a high fat diet. They then looked at the offspring of those same mice, finding that they were more susceptible to infections, autoimmune disease, and even experienced more food allergies than the mice whose parents had not been fed the high fat diet.

Study author Ian Myles MD says, The mice that had this increased risk of illness never ate the harmful food, only their parents ate the high-fat meals. Sadly, this means there’s no such thing as eating a healthy number of calories if all of your calories are consumed as junk. It’s scary news for the kids of those who already ate junk food diets before they were born. However, you would assume that it would incentivize parents now to get in shape and eat healthy before having kids.

The Dangers of Anti-Vaxxer Denialism

We’re breaking records in the US. Call it records in Darwinism. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is at a 20 year high in the United States. More than 288 cases as of just May 23 for the year. Comparatively speaking, we had only 37 cases in all of 2004, and in 2002, we declared measles eliminated. Since then, we have discovered certain pockets of the un-vaccinated as well as celebrities who want to be experts (but know nothing about reality) like Jenny McCarthy.

The CDC has reported that most of the Americans have contracted measles before, are immune, or have received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which is considered one of the most effective vaccines. Now, measles has been declared an epidemic, despite the wide availability of the best way to eliminate it. A 2.5 year old child was originally identified as patient zero in the journal Pediatrics in Minnesota, which led to the exposure of 3,000 people in the community.

Originally, the child went with his family to Kenya, contracted the measles, and then spread it to family and other toddlers in his daycare. The parents believed that vaccines were dangerous. So they did not have him vaccinated. Personally, if I had kids, I would be looking for a daycare where they require proof of vaccinations. When I take my dogs to a doggy daycare, I only go to those that require that kind of documentation. I would bet that Measles is a lot more dangerous than the vaccine.

The family lives among a small group of Somali immigrants, and the rates of MMR vaccination are low at best. In fact, they have seen a significant decrease in vaccinations from 91% in 2004 to just 54% in 2014. Out of the 3000 who were eventually exposed, 21 showed symptoms and 16 were not vaccinated. So in other words, there are people who will not respond to vaccines by developing immunity. They are protected if everybody is vaccinated, as most people WILL respond to the vaccines.

Dr Abdiraham Mohamed of the Axis Medical Center in Minneapolis says, Every family will tell you that We’re not going to give our children the MMR. We’re afraid that they’re going to get autism. Not only is there nothing to suggest that vaccines have any connection to autism. This case in Minnesota clearly shows what happens when we get caught up in the lies. Worse, this is not an isolated case by any means. Unfortunately, we run into a situation where this has happened before, and it continues to happen among largely un-vaccinated communities. The misinformation spreading like wildfire across many smaller communities is disturbing, to say the least.

After a congressional hearing in 2000, the anti-vaxx movement was first gaining real steam. Sarah Depres wrote:

In 2000, I was a counsel for the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee working on public health issues, including immunization policy. The committee was in its second year of hearings whose purpose on paper was to oversee various aspects of the nation’s immunization program. But in reality, these hearings had become a forum for spouting unproven, and eventually disproven, allegations, linking the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism.

[…] One by one, the committee summoned its witnesses. [Dr. Andrew] Wakefield and other anti-vaccine advocates told the committee stories about children who stopped speaking after receiving their MMR vaccines and spun complicated theories about how the vaccine could prevent children from absorbing nutrients, leading to neurological problems. The experts from CDC and NIH explained that the epidemiology and biology of autism and vaccines did not support what Wakefield and others were professing.

Wakefield is now a disgraced former doctor whose medical license was revoked due to unethical practice and behavior. He published a paper asserting that the MMR vaccine was officially linked to autism, which was contradicted by various other studies, including his own. His research is still used by the anti-vaccine movement as proof, a movement that has cost countless children their lives. So far, it seems that it will continue to cost children their lives.

Obese Kids Cost More

With all the publications, parenting an obese child is already stressful enough, but it’s also expensive, yes expensive. If you assume an obese child eats more, there is that. But over a lifetime, an obese child will actually cost $19,000 versus $12,900 for a child who was of normal weight.

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, almost 1/5 of children between 6 and 19 are obese as defined by the Centers for Disease Control by BMI at or above the 95th percentile for their age and sex, the effects of which easily continue into adulthood. About 75% of obese teens also remain obese as adults, and 2/3 of normal weight children eventually become obese in today’s society.

So how do the medical costs rise? Obviously, there are higher risks of things like diabetes and heart disease later on. However, obesity also lowers the immune response, making basic things like a cold or flu more likely. Obese children are more likely to experience problems with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint and breathing issues, and they are more likely to be on different medications, even incurring costs that can be calculated because of lost productivity.

When you consider the significant and ever growing number of obese kids, this number adds up to a scary $14 billion. For the same reasons we don’t let kids drink or smoke and force them to go to school, we should also do our best to keep them at a healthy weight. While the cost estimates are significant, the motivation to prevent childhood obesity should be there regardless of the financial implications according to author Eric Andrew Finkelstein PhD M.H.A.

TO prevent childhood obesity, which is one of the best things we can do for our kids, it is essential to teach them about healthy dieting habits, eating more fruits and vegetables, and also about basic and regular exercise. Be an example, because if they see inactive parents, they’re less likely to be active themselves. Make healthy dinners mandatory for both yourself and your kids, and you can turn things around.

Sports And Energy Drinks Lead To Unhealthy Habits In Kids

You may be giving your kid sports and energy drinks, especially if your kid is involved in some kind of sports activity. It’s part of the game, and we’re told that they get more than just water. More sugar? More calories? They focus on things like electrolytes of course, but research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior has found that kids who drink sports and energy drinks on a weekly basis are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors than those who drink less or do not drink at all.

Researchers specifically looked at 20 public middle schools and high schools with nearly 3000 kids who filled out surveys about if they drank sports and energy drinks, how much, etc. In both genders, kids who drank more were more likely to also drink other sugary beverages, smoke cigarettes, and play more video games. Boys in particular spent an extra 4 hours per week playing video games when they regularly consumed sports drinks. Girls who consumed weekly energy drinks were more likely to skip breakfast, which caused them to overeat during the day according to research from the University of Missouri.

Sports drinks do have electrolytes, which they play up as replacing those lost when you exercise. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that while they are heavily marketed towards kids, they are bad choices for kids. They typically contain caffeine and other stimulants, and they are typically full of sugar, whereas kids who drink these typically don’t participate in high levels of physical activity.

This falls right in line with the recent publication that Coca Cola will be removing brominated vegetable oil from its energy drink Powerade and other Coke products. The Mayo Clinic has released that a buildup of bromine led to reports of memory loss and skin and nerve damage. According to Marcie Beth Schneider MD FAAP, a member of the AAP committee on Nutrition, For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best.