Childhood Obesity


Fruits and Vegetables To Feed Your Children

Yesterday Beth of Shut Up and Run posted on her blog titled Obese Police.  It was an interesting post regarding if a child should have been removed by the state because of the fact that he was four times the size of ‘normal’ kid his age.  It was under the thought process that the mother we putting her child in harm’s way.  There are a lot of comments about the situation and I encourage you to read the post and then throw in your two cents.  I know I did.

My two cents consisted of not knowing if taking the child out of the home was the right thing to do.  I still don’t know, although another comment made me think.  It said that what this mother was doing was child abuse and that society would not hesitate to remove a child from a house if it were ‘traditional’ child abuse.  I nodded my head in agreement and that also reinforced my other thoughts on the subject.

I am a believer that we tend to tip-toe around the subject of obesity because it may hurt that person’s feelings.  I have been getting to the point that I just don’t care if their feelings are hurt because I think it is this idea of ignoring the situation that has allowed this person to continue to feed their problems instead of attacking them head on.  People will turn to food as a defense mechanism the same way that they do drugs and alcohol.

When a person is doing drugs or abusing alcohol we don’t seem to have a problem as a society to do interventions or get them help.  Maybe drugs and alcohol are too far away from obesity, but how about cigarette smoking?  As a society we have no problem telling people who are smoking that they are killing themselves slowly and now have Government entities banning cigarette smoking everywhere  except for in your house practically.  There was an uproar over second-hand smoke and how that impacts the other person’s life even though the are not puffing.  Why is obesity any different?

When a person is obese they are susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes, coronary disease, shortness of breath, etc and these too have an impact on society.  Health care costs rise, costs of goods rise, insurance premiums go up.  If you don’t think you are being affected by the person eating 10 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders a day you are sadly mistaken.

A variety of different approaches are needed because not everybody learns the same way.  There needs to be education, there may also need to be Government intervention in the form of taxes, maybe the food companies (the ones using cellulose in their processed foods) need to be sued and have their hand forced into creating healthier meals.

So what does this have to do with childhood obesity?  It has everything to do with childhood obesity.  Parents are not focusing on being parents.  They are allowing TVs to parent their children.  They are shuttling kids from activity to activity and instead of serving them real foods they are stopping at the drive-thru in McDonald’s and eating on the run.  They are not educating their children on what is healthy food and thus we are creating, or have created, a generation that could easily not outlive its parents.

I have a step-son and I preach about healthy eating.  If he asks me if I want some candy I tell him no because I don’t eat that.  He has heard it so much that he told Karen and I that he no longer wants candy on Halloween but instead wants apples.  He has refused to order french fries because I had a comment that the french fries from fast food places like McDonald’s will make his butt fat.  He is learning that I workout and eat vegetables and get stronger and it is implanted in his head.  It is about educating them so that they make better choices as they get older.

With this in mind I came across an article by Joy Bauer about 8 Ways Parent Make Kids Fat.  I am going to list the 8 ways along with a short statement from the site but be sure to read the article for yourself.

Mistake 1: Telling kids to clean their plate
For the most part, healthy young children eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. As a parent, you don’t want to mess around with their internal cues by encouraging or bribing them to “clean their plates” and eat past the point of fullness.

Mistake 2: Offering sweet rewards

Trying to get children to eat their vegetables can be downright frustrating – and parents often resort to bribery. Does this sound familiar? “Eat your broccoli and you can have ice cream for dessert.”

But unfortunately, this technique teaches our kids that broccoli and other vegetables are “less appealing” because their consumption requires a reward. At the same time, this approach positions dessert as the prize, something to be valued over other foods.


Yes, there are is a problem and unfortunately this is not far from the truth.

Mistake 3: Serving up too many snacks
Constant snacking throughout the day translates to calorie overload – plus, can leave kids uninterested in nutritious food (like chicken and vegetables) at mealtime when lunch or dinner rolls around.

Mistake 4: Filling up on empty liquid calories
An eye-opening study in the journal Pediatrics found that today’s youths take in 10 to 15 percent of their total daily calories from sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks) and 100 percent fruit juice.  Further, kids’ average daily caloric intake from these beverages increased from 242 calories to 270 calories over the last 10 years and continues to rise.  Most of these drinks are sources of empty calories, meaning they provide simple sugars but little else in the way of nutrients — plus, high-calorie beverages do not trigger the same satiety mechanisms as solid foods.  This means that your kids are unlikely to feel full from drinking lots of soda or juice, and therefore will not innately compensate for the extra liquid calories they slurp up, which can inevitably pack on the pounds.

Mistake 5: Giving in to kids’ dinner demands
When it comes to mealtime, kids inevitably request pizza, chicken nuggets, pasta, burgers and fries. Instead of accommodating unhealthy requests, parents should take charge — nix sugary breakfast cereals and pastries in the am, and provide ONE universal meal for dinner each night (of course, try to take your kids taste preferences into account).

In fact, you can even learn to prepare healthier versions of your kids’ favorite meals by making simple swaps in the kitchen: use lean meats (like ground turkey in place of fatty ground chuck), low-fat dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt) in place of full-fat varieties, and lighter condiments. If they love chicken nuggets and fries, prepare “baked” nuggets with “oven roasted” potato fries and a green vegetable. If they like burgers, make lean turkey burgers. If they crave pasta, try whole-wheat pasta with marinara and turkey meatballs.

Mistake 6: Letting kids overdose on screen time

According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation report, in a typical day, 8 to 18-year-olds in this country spend more than 7½ hours using media (TV, music, computer video games, etc.). That’s almost a full work-day of media time each and every day! When kids are parked in front of the tube, they’re totally sedentary and eating up time that might otherwise be spent playing or moving around. Plus, there’s a good chance they’re mindlessly snacking on junk food while watching their shows — and also being bombarded by unhealthy food ads. SO it’s actually a TRIPLE whammy of unhealthy habits.

Set house rules on television time, and limit your kids to their favorite shows. Only have the TV on at set times when people are watching a designated program — don’t keep it on as background noise all day long. And definitely don’t allow the TV to be on during mealtimes —when it can distract them and interfere with them listening to their body’s natural fullness cues.

Mistake 7: Letting kids stay up late
Sleep deprivation messes with appetite cues. It increases levels of hormones that make kids hungrier and decreases levels of hormones that keep kids feeling full, so tired kids are more likely to want snacks and nibble and graze throughout the day. Plus, if your kids aren’t well rested, you’ll have more issues getting them up in the morning in time to eat a healthy breakfast (and skipping breakfast makes them far hungrier in the afternoon/evening hours).

Mistake 8: Using strollers excessively
Strollers are a wonderful necessity, but using them excessively as your kids get older robs them of exercise — and reinforces the idea that it’s okay to be sedentary.


Please take the time to educate yourself and your children on what is healthy eating so that you can enjoy your life and they can enjoy theirs.

What Steps Do You Take To Live A Healthy Lifestyle?


** UPDATE – While on Twitter I read a tweet from Lauren of Food Trainers.  She has a great blog and I used one of her posts regarding ‘carb-loading‘ recently.  This tweet contained a link to an article in the USA Today regarding Childhood Obesity and is a good read because it also refers to the child in the article on Beth’s blog.  Read the article [HERE]

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  1. BDD says:

    Figures, everytime Ohio makes the news, it goes national

    I kinda disagree with the mistake of clean your plate, 9 times out of 10 (using my own personal experience only) that the thing left on the plate to clean is usually veggies, most kids hate veggies, but willingly eat their meat and carb/starch, they wont eat their veggies if you dont make them, at least for me, thats how it worked.
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  2. I think another important component to getting kids to eat healthy is for adults to be good role models. It’s not enough to just model good habits at meal time, but also through the day, specifically when it comes to snacking and desserts. I can’t tell you how much it makes me cringe when I see adults giving lessons to kids on eating a balanced meal and then they go and eat from the candy jar on the counter. Kids get the whole message – they miss nothing. recently posted..Virtual EventsMy Profile

  3. It’s funny – my kids eat sweets after dinner. They watch some TV. They eat some snacks when they are hungry. But they are far, far from obese. Because they have learned moderation. They have learned that you feel good in your body when you are active. They have learned that like smoking, getting fat can be a death sentence. As parents, from day one, we have educated them and set the example. I think parents forget just how much influence we have over our kids. It’s our jobs to provide guidance. It’s not to be taken lightly.

    Letting your child get obese is a form of abuse. The tough thing is, it cannot be lumped in the same category as other forms of abuse that are causing immediate and imminent harm to the child. The lines are very clear about abuse when a child has bruises or burns or is found sitting in a squalid apartment in front of a crack pipe. Not so clear when we are dealing with the longer terms affects of something like obesity and smoking.
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    • CTER says:

      Do you think those lines can be drawn clearly? I know BMI isn’t the greatest indicator of obesity but it is what we have so can and should we use that? I mean it is just bananas to let kids get obese b/c it is neglectful. Watching kids who are unable to get around drives me nuts and I don’t understand how the parents don’t see it. How can they turn a blind eye to it? That being said I have no clue what goes on behind closed doors so it is hard to know if they are trying. Tough situation but I will not give up trying to bring this issue to the forefront of conversation, even if people don’t like it. It’s time to Shut Up And Do Something!

  4. marlene says:

    I knew you would be all over that story! I am still torn, though I *do* agree that it is a form of child abuse. Very sad.

    More and more of my friends/family with young ones are finally realizing that “clean your plate” may not be the best policy.

    I mean, why don’t we treat our kids the same way we treat ourselves when trying to be healthy – doing things like eating only until satisfied, avoiding liquid calories, moving our bodies, limiting sweets… these should be universal guidelines and I very much think people need to be implementing them in raising their kids.

    Great post/article!!
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    • CTER says:

      You know Marlene ever since I have been in my step-son’s life I have never treated him like a child. He is only 5 but my responsibility is to raise a responsible adult and I can’t possibly do that if I don’t treat him like I would others. I can’t do that if my example is do as I say, not as I do. Children are sponges and you need to be sure that you are doing what you say you will do when you are around them and that includes eating properly and in proper portions.

  5. B.o.B. says:

    Good, thoughtful post Jason. I’ve got some “food issues” that stem from reward eating and not really eating healthily as a child myself. I don’t blame my parents b/c quite honestly they did the best they could and are great parents. I could have used a little more nutrition/healthier options but as an adult I now take responsibility for my eating. It’s one thing to blatantly ignore healthy eating as a parent but it’s another to legitimately not know how to eat healthily yourself. Unfortunately, those who don’t know how to eat healthy tend to be those in lower socio-economic classes b/c they aren’t taught it and food that is quick and cheap is much more abundent in their worlds. I’m not saying you can’t eat healthily for cheap but I am saying that some of this education needs to start with the parents. How can they teach what they don’t know?
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    • CTER says:

      They can’t teach what they don’t know which is why it will take a grassroots effort for us to all talk about it. We have so many ways to reach people (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+) now that being able to reach the masses is not hard. Like posts and comments that deal with this and your network will see that and hopefully engage them in conversation.

      We cannot preach, but instead educate and talk about it. We also have to remember that change takes time and we cannot get frustrated when somebody doesn’t make a change immediately. People will do so on their own and in their own time but if we continue to talk about healthy eating and how that results in a healthy and active lifestyle. One where we are thrilled to get out of bed and run/walk and be active then it will be contagious.

  6. misszippy1 says:

    Like I said on Beth’s blog, the whole thing is just sad and I don’t know what the answer is in this situation. Aside from that, I can say I follow the majority of those rules above w/ my kids. I do let them snack b/c I believe in letting them tap into their hunger signals…if they are hungry, I let them eat. But it’s healthy snacking for the most part. They also get sweets, but in moderation. Another thing I do is pack their lunches w/ healthy foods. School lunches are still a pile of crap–maybe more so now that the gov’t. is labeling pizza as a veg. Anyhow, we all have a responsibility to our kids to lead by healthy example.
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    • CTER says:

      We pack the 5 year olds lunch as well. I just don’t trust the school to make a healthy meal because of budget deficits and thus looking for ways to cut costs is always at the forefront. So why not purchase crap food since its cheap. Drives me nuts.

  7. I am a mother of 4 beautiful children. I can’t say that I always give them the healtiest food, as they enjoy their McDonald’s. But I am firm on one thing … I don’t care what sort of activity you do but you are doing something active. All of my children are active in some sort of sport and/or dancing. I do not believe in letting your children come home from school every day and just plop down on the couch with a bag of chips and watch TV or play a video game. Every now and then, okay, but every day NO SIR! My kids know they have do something active at leaset 3-4 days a week. I find it hard that an 8 year old weighs 200+ lbs. When those parents saw that cycle starting they should have done something before it got so out of control. I do blame those parents, because they should have been helping that child, not giving into him.

    • CTER says:

      Robin – thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I really appreciate your take on activity. It is so important and I always see kids playing video games or on phones and not moving. Look next to them and mom and dad are doing the same thing.

      Thank you for your contribution.

  8. Jen says:

    Great post – I was looking forward to your commentary on this.

    I absolutely agree that this nation-wide tip-toeing around people’s weight issue must stop. So many people i know who have weight issues shrug it off as no big deal. They make jokes, they figure it’s no big deal (I was once one of those people!)

    When you’re heavy, most people don’t like being heavy because of vanity. Vanity alone isn’t enough of a motivator for most people to break their habits. It wasn’t until i thought about taking care of myself in ‘health’ terms that I was able to take off the weight. I now work at remaining at a healthy weight because I love my quality life, have a son I need to stick around for and want to do everything within my power to ward off disease and poor health.
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  9. Tracy says:

    So here’s my 2 cents….I believe how kids eat stems from how we teach them to eat as infants. A breasted child learns to eat til he’s full then stops. No amount of cajoling can get this baby to eat more if he doesn’t want to. Seriously. They can switch from nutrative to non-nutrative sucking as they like. On the other hand, a baby will finish a bottle even if he’s not hungry because he doesn’t want to drown on the formula dripping into his mouth. This teaches baby to eat when he’s not hungry. Now, so as to deflect the onslaught of defensive criticism that is usually impending when ever I mention breastfeeding, I will say that you can bottle feed a baby without teaching overeating but you have to actually hold the baby and pay attention to him the whole time, taking his cues into account. Unfortunately, over and over again I see babies with bottles propped, with parents occasionally glancing over to jiggle the bottle to get baby to start eating again so as not to waste the formula. Breastfeeding also exposes kids to a variety of flavours and are more likely to try new things. My kids are far from perfect, but they do try new things, love ethnic food and exercise is just part of their lifestyle.
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    • CTER says:

      That is very interesting. I don’t know enough to offer a counter argument but it does make sense.

      Now why would a baby know to stop when breastfeeding as opposed to a bottle. Why would they not feel that drowning sensation then too? Is it b/c the mother can only produce so much?

  10. love this post & totally agree with all those tips. I don’t have children yet, but I definitely plan on making healthy eating the norm, and vow to never serve a frozen chicken nugget to them.

    Some parents don’t take responsibility for their children’s health. Their lack of concern, could harm their kids for a lifetime. Why would you want to do that to your kids? When I was little, dessert was a reward and I was taught to clean my plate. Many years later its still a struggle for me to break those habits!
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  11. XLMIC says:

    First of all, as a fellow stepparent I need to recommend you stop ‘preaching’…it will not get you as far as kind, clear, compassionate discussion. But maybe you were using that word figuratively :) Secondly, telling your stepson that something will make his butt fat as a scare-tactic/deterrent is questionable in my opinion. Dorothy over at MilePosts has a really great way of approaching the topic of healthful foods with her three kids. Go check it out…you will like it!

    On the topic of addictions… we are not as a society quick to jump in with interventions when we see someone falling into drugs and/or alcohol. It usually takes a good long while of a long slide before anyone says anything. And the person has to want to change before any amount of intervention is going to have any lasting effect. I would venture to say that the same holds true for someone with a food addiction.

    As regards child abuse and removal from the parents’ care… this does seem extreme, however they had made numerous attempts to get the mom on board. I agree with SUAR about having someone in the home to educate the mom and child. To help her and him change habits and perhaps get down into the nitty-gritty of how this came to pass. There are issues here that go beyond the nutritional realm. Therapy would be good for both of them.

    I surely do hope that it all works out well for all concerned and that emotional and physical health is achieved and maintained.

    It is very admirable of you to bring this cause to our attention…your passion on the topic is evident :)
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    • CTER says:

      Let me first say this: I do not stand on a soapbox and preach. I provide choices. You can eat this which is not healthy for you or you can eat this which is healthy. It is all about making choices and allowing him to decide what he wants. Because he lives in a house where the choices are healthy he does the same. For example, at dinner tonight he chose peaches over french fries. He chose and I did not tell him what to do.

      Secondly, it is not a scare tactic. It was a conversation where he asked me why I did not eat french fries and I told him my choice was to not eat them because they are fried and are white potatoes that do not provide the nutritional. value of baked sweet potato fries. A choice that I made and jokingly said that I don’t want my butt to get big either. If he chooses to avoid french fries b/c that is the lesson he learned I am perfectly happy with that. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another.

      It may take years before somebody goes through intervention but the question is why take so long? Why are we always afraid of how that person will feel at that moment and not concerned with the long term ramifications regardless of drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, etc. If you love that person why take forever to do that. I don’t get that one bit. My mind doesn’t work that way and if there is a rationale as to why I would love to hear it.

      There is no doubt that there are bigger issues than food in this particular case and most certainly therapy is needed. Unfortunately we are not capable of providing this as a society b/c of cost and resources which is very sad.

      Yes I am passionate about it and don’t have all the answers but I will not shy away from the topic or the conversation. It may not be acceptable to talk about it but in my mind I don’t care. It is something that must be spoken of and not brushed under the carpet.

      • XLMIC says:

        I hope my comment didn’t make you think that I feel it is at all unacceptable to talk about ANY topic. If you read my blog, you’d know that :) There are so many things that get brushed under the carpet … I am definitely the kind of person who is willing to rip the carpet back and expose all that crap under there…and actively try to figure out a solution.

        I must have misunderstood your first sentence about your stepson where you said “I preach about healthy eating” and the phrase later in the paragraph about “ha(ving) a comment that the french fries from fast food places like McDonald’s will make his butt fat.” Please understand that I am not advocating feeding your stepson (or any child…or person for that matter) crap food. And I definitely understand the need for changes and education regarding nutrition. My comment about your approach with your stepson was more specific to stepparenting and parenting… probably better suited to a private discussion :) Having been around that block as both stepparent and stepchild, just trying to share my perspective and experience.
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        • CTER says:

          Not bad feelings at all. I truly enjoy conversation and truly enjoy hearing different perspectives. Everybody has a different background and you only learn by talking/discussing topics as opposed to burying your head in the sand.

          There is no one size fits all. I am always amazed at the comment regarding parenting of: THEY say to do this. I always ask who is they and was the situation exactly the same? If not then it is just a guide and just a rule of thumb. Similar to a golf swing. There are things that everybody has to do but each will have its own unique approach.

  12. Hi Jason,

    First off, I want to say that there is no doubt in my mind that you are passionate about what you do, and I applaud that.

    That said, there are a couple passages in your blog today that I personally believe to be wrong and actually downright dangerous opinions. I’d like to point them out if I could.

    1. You say “When a person is doing drugs or abusing alcohol we don’t seem to have a problem as a society to do interventions or get them help”

    As a recovering alcoholic and also as someone who has tried to help people in similar situations since, I can pretty much categorically refute your claim. We can only hope that MORE people intervene on loved ones. We can only hope that society as a whole improves it’s view of recovery programs. I don’t know how many AA meetings you’ve been to, but they are pretty grim. Let’s put it this way, not too many Fortune 500 companies are opening their boardrooms to addiction support groups. Too often they are in tucked away off the beaten path places. And I’ve always got the impression that this is not by choice. Finally, if you think government cum society gives a shit, take a trip to any city central lock-up facility at any time on any day of the week.

    2. You say “I have been getting to the point that I just don’t care if their feelings are hurt because I think it is this idea of ignoring the situation that has allowed this person to continue to feed their problems instead of attacking them head on”

    While the second half of the sentence gives a bit of context to the first, the attitude is still wrong. Basically, if you don’t care if peoples feelings are getting hurt if/when you try to help them than my advice is under no circumstances try and help. I don’t know you past or background, so maybe you’ve been to places as dark as these before. I know I have. And I also know I’m not retarded. I knew all along that what I was doing was killing me (don’t forget I was almost 300 pounds too). I knew that if I didn’t stop I would die. But let me tell you, it’s f’ing hard to turn that corner and under no circumstances is shaming someone going to help. Let me repeat that last part again – UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS SHAMING SOMEONE GOING TO HELP. Because you are playing with fire here. And with that attitude, the potential to do more harm than good is almost a foregone conclusion.

    If you really want to know about addictions, I’m happy to talk to you about it any time any place anywhere. You have my email address. I think you have my phone number.


  13. Jill says:

    I understand your frustration with childhood obesity and the need to find a solution. I think every situation is different, though and it isn’t always so black and white. I have twin boys. When they were 11, one of them weighed 72 lbs, the other 162. Yes, 162….and it wasn’t because I let him sit in front of the tv eating too many sugary snacks. He had a health issue and it took me a very long time to figure out what was going on. I’m sure people, such as yourself, scolded me internally at the grocery store when they saw him and that hurt a lot. Took us awhile to figure out what was going on but this kiddo will always always always have to watch his numbers … and I’m glad that he has learned this at a young age, I hope it will be a constant reminder that the things that really matter to us take a lot of work.
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  14. Chuck says:

    Hey man, I see your points, but please be careful to the things you tell you step-son. It’s exactly those kind of comments that really sent me deep down the road of my eating disorder and irrational fears “that all candy is bad” and “fries will make you fat” didn’t make me just shun candy and fast food, but any foods that I then deemed unhealthy. And once these attitudes are there, they are incredibly difficult to dispel. Those things wound me up with many health problems, seclusion, excessive exercise, and removal from friends and loved ones. I eventually ended up in an inpatient eating disorder clinic where I spent 10 week of my college life.

    So I see you points, I just ask that you please be careful. A piece of candy now and then is fine for everyone–it’s a balance
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  15. Molly says:

    I was lucky enough to grow up with active, healthy eating parents (my Dad is a triathlete). We were always on the go, and were regulars at the health food store (which back then was for hippies!) . I’m raising my kids the same way, by example. I don’t make a big deal out of candy, I let them have it once in a while, because I don’t want them to be obsessed about something they can’t have. My youngest told me recently that she’s going to run a marathon too someday : )
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  16. Ruby Boyd says:

    The health risk of fast food can be greatly reduced simply by choosing healthy fast foods.
    One out of every three American Children born in 2000 will develop diabetes from poor
    dietary habits. Fast food is a major player in our nation’s bad eating habits.
    Unfortunately, it is becoming a staple of modern American lifestyles.

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