Obesity in Kids: Parents, This is War.

A frightening study was just release in The New England Journal of Medicine about the state of our children’s health.
Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
May 4, 2012
Minute Read

A frightening study was just release in The New England Journal of Medicine about the state of our children’s health. Diabetes is in the rise and is strangling the life out of our children. A startling 3600 young people per year are newly diagnosed. Why is this so unnerving? Because as recently as 1990, the disease was rare.  And the answer is simple: we are a nation of obsessive consumers of food. We need to remember: diabetes kills people. This is war.

Before I make any parent feel too guilty, let me say that we, like our children have become the victims of insanely aggressive marketing. Everywhere we turn, food ads appear. And when they do, we salivate. We’re only human. Marketers are manipulative and the problem is, manipulation works. Make something look delicious and we will take a bite. Marketing works with food, violence and sex. We all know what’s happening. Muffins have been injected with steroids, the ¼ pounder is now a ¾ pounder and we feel as though we’ve lost the battle- either with ourselves, or with our children.

Personally, I think it’s too much to have to choose between fifteen types of potato chips, so I skip it altogether. And varieties of pantyhose? Don’t get me started. I felt liberated the day that my 28 year old daughter told me that they were out of style. Praise God. One less decision to make.

So what’s a frightened, overwhelmed and exhausted parent to do? Surrender and hope for the best? Absolutely not. We can win this one. I see parents winning all the time and this is how they do it.

  1. ONLY shop the outside of the supermarket and control all foods that come in the house. No junk food. No soda. No pop tarts or kids’ cereals. And no rationalizing having them.
  2. Pack your kids’ lunches. School lunches are full of salt, fat and sugar. No dissing the lunch lady, let her feed other people’s kids, not yours. Yes, your son may swap his apple for the other kid’s Cheetos, but you can chat about that.
  3. Everyone eats the same food. Period. If dad’s craving nachos, he can sneak out to Taco Bell when the kids are asleep.
  4. Stick to the “One” rule. At every meal and every snack, each person gets one serving. And a reasonably sized one at that
  5. The refrigerator is off limits except at meal times. We have trained our kids to be grazers because we don’t want to be over controlling when it comes to food. We want them to have freedom, but the problem is, their stomachs are in control, they aren’t. When we teach them to stay away from the refrigerator except at meal times, we teach them to respect food.
  6. NO talk about diets and food. The majority of girls, especially, in America feel insecure about their weight. So don’t make weight the issue. Strength, good nutrition and health are the issues, NOT vanity.  Make healthy eating a discipline that everyone in your family should have because being disciplined is part of life.

Yes, yes, yes you can win this war. Your child depends on you winning.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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