Category Archives: Childhood Obesity

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.

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.

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.

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.