Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And You Wonder Why Our Kids are Fat?

Last week I posted about our nation's disgraceful rates of obesity. Check it out here:

What I find particularly disturbing are the rates of obesity among children. Well, the only people to blame are adults. We live in a culture that insists that kids have to be fed around the clock, and most of what we feed them is overly processed, nutritionally devoid food which does nothing but pack on the pounds and teach them bad eating habits.

So, when I saw this article in the New York Times I naturally dropped everything and read:

I have to admit that I am one of those parents who has complained about "Snack Time Never Ends." What amazes me is the resistance I get from other parents and educators, and the insistence that kids have to eat constantly, even if the only way to keep them stuffing their faces is to throw junk in front of them.

When I hear people complain that their kids won't eat anything other than macaroni and cheese or hamburgers, the first thing I always say is "just don't give them macaroni and cheese and hamburgers." The response is usually "well then they won't eat anything." When I reply that they'll eventually eat if you just don't feed them, I get looks of horror.

Let's get this straight, IF YOU GIVE CONSTANTLY FEED YOUR CHILDREN JUNK, THAT'S ALL THEY'LL EAT. If you constantly give them healthy, nutritious food and make it clear that if they don't eat what's in front of them, then they just don't eat, THEY WILL EAT HEALTHY NUTRITIOUS FOOD.

Yes, they'll miss a meal or two, but they're probably better off burning off the excess fat you've managed to pack onto them feeding them crap.

Children are not stupid. They are fully aware that if they don't eat the plate of pasta primavera in front of them, you'll head to the freezer to nuke them some chicken nuggets. If they eventually get the idea that if they don't eat the pasta primavera then they're going to be hungry to the next meal, then they will eat the pasta primavera.


  1. I completely agree! My kids are adults now and while I didn't cater to their desires a lot, I did to some extent and I truly regret it. However, one of the things I used to tell them is that they didn't have to "love" everything I prepared; they just had to eat it. It's one thing if a food makes you gag; totally another if it's just not your favorite.

    I come across this now. For example, black beans are not one of my favorites, but I eat them -- I even cook them now and again. Many, many people have expressed surprise that I eat them since they're not a favorite -- and I just don't understand that.

    Now milk as a beverage on the other hand I truly can't stand. It's one of those things that even the thought of consuming makes me gag. I couldn't tell you the last time I drank a glass of milk and it's something I never plan on drinking again.

    I think part of this comes from the "you have two choices when it comes to what is being served: take it or leave it. There were a number of things I passed on when I was growing up and I don't remember my parents being particularly concerned about it -- with the exception of the milk. My pediatrician told my mom not to worry about it!

  2. You are so correct! Even when I was fat I filled my home with healthy alternatives for my kids and it has paid off. I get comments all the time from people who cannot believe the little ones are eating spinach or some other veggie.

    I hear responses similar to the ones you describe from adults about their own diets. These middle class Americans are not starving, and it amazes me when I hear the obese person who is currently eating enough daily calories to keep a small South African village alive say that he cannot lose weight because he worries about malnutrition. Skipping a meal or two would not kill any of us, but the idea of eating less makes them think they are going to develop rickets or something. The very thing that is killing us is the excess weight, not scurvy.

  3. Mmm, I would be braver with my 8 year old if she weren't already in the 25th percentile for BMI-- and that's with quite a bit of ballet muscle: she looks really thin. She doesn't have a lot of room to spare. I don't offer (or stock) much in the way of junk, but she wants what old housekeeping manuals called "farinacious" foods-- simple starches that are appealing and easily digested. The kids tend to get more adventurous as they get older.

  4. I realize that a lot of stories you read in the news tend to exaggerate the problem. Even so, this sounds like a pretty silly disconnect between feeding snacks round the clock and obesity.
    Yes, there are exceptions. Larkspur definitely sounds like one of them. But I would expect that, having read her blog. What troubles me are the studies about parents who do not or cannot recognize when their child is obese!