Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Childhood Obesity--Whose Fault Is It?

Childhood obesity is a huge problem in this nation. But whose problem is it really? I do think it's sad that so many children are having an unhealthy start and most likely will have terrible health problems down the road. But I have to say this...with all the media fascination with it and every pediatrician giving you red flags on it, I would be surprised if I could find an adult who wasn't aware of the problem. So is it really my problem if the next-door neighbors children are not slender?

Are the schools to blame? So many children eat school lunch these days and the school lunch options are not really that healthy. That's why I prefer to send my children to school with a home-packed lunch. That's what I always had growing up. My mom packed all our lunches every day for years. It usually consisted of a sandwich of some kind on whole wheat bread, a piece of fruit, and a cookie. Occasionally we'd get a bag of sliced up carrots or something like that. Guess what? My mean old mom never even gave us anything to drink! We were forced to drink WATER out of the drinking fountain! How could she have been so cruel? I don't think the schools are to blame. I do know there are kids who rely on school lunch to eat a meal, but really, baking a loaf of bread doesn't cost all that much, and a few slices of whole wheat bread and an apple would be far more healthy than what is served in some school cafeterias, not to mention still quite cheap.

Are the fast food restaurants to blame? Or, to go a step further, the government for not regulating them enough? I think that's a bunch of nonsense. My husband works in fast food. He eats it every day. He shouldn't. Nobody should. I don't eat it very often. The children and I occasionally indulge when we visit him at work (maybe twice a month) and have some burgers and fries. My children drink water or milk when we are there, though, no soda. If we do frequent other fast food restaurants, it's usually on a drive-through basis and then we go home, so I couple their chicken nuggets with fresh fruit and veggies at home and milk or water to drink. When it comes to fast food, it is ENTIRELY the PARENTS' fault if their children are eating too much of it. These habits are formed when children are young and usually pretty solid by the time they are teens.

When I was a teen, I had the freedom of eating fast food whenever I wanted. I had access to a car almost 100% of the time and a job, so I had my own money. But I didn't want to waste my money on food when my mom prepared good, healthy meals at home for me for free, so I usually didn't. That's because she instilled in me the desire to eat healthy from a young age by always feeding me healthy food AND eating it herself. She always served healthy portions of food and didn't allow us to snack all day long. If we were hungry, she'd tell us to eat an apple. She fed us a healthy breakfast every day, made our lunches for school, and cooked dinner, usually from scratch. I have learned that it is cheaper to eat healthy, made-from-scratch meals than about anything processed.

This post was spurred by this news article that came out today about the government in one county in California banning the toys from kids meals at fast food restaurants. I just think it's so ridiculous.

Eat healthy. Teach your children to eat healthy. It really is that simple. Teach them to prefer healthy food over non-healthy food. My children always prefer milk or water to juice or soda to drink. They only drink milk at meals and only one cup. Then if they are thirsty other times of day, they drink water. Honestly, I think beverages contribute more to obesity than most other things. So many people all they drink all day long is anything but water. Guess what? Water has no calories and truly quenches your thirst! Amazing how that works.

I fight childhood obesity in my own home by feeding my children right. And not to sound heartless, but it is not my problem if my neighbors do not choose to eat healthy food and their children pay the price. It's sad. But it's not my problem.


swedemom said...

I agree that parents are a huge part of the problem, in fact, the key to the whole thing.

I like what Jamie Oliver has been doing with his show, Food Revolution. His philosophy is to teach people to learn how to cook good food with good ingredients. When you teach them how to eat better, it changes everything. He shows that cooking is not as difficult and can be fast.

He is also working to change the meals in schools. That is an important point because a lot of low-income families receive those meals for free or at reduced prices. It is just another piece of the puzzle, helping kids to learn how to eat better.

PC said...

Heh, I had the opposite thing happen. It always bothered me that we didn't have snacks in our home, and I really enjoyed eating out occasionally as a teenager. Whoops!


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