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Are Parents to blame for Childhood Obesity?


Posted by Ana R.

Studies show that child obesity in the US is on the rise. We've seen in the news, read it in the papers, and even watched it drive by on public bus ads. A hefty lot of blame has been placed on schools. Sugary soda practically flows from fountains on the playgrounds. Lunch programs are chocked full of calories and robbed by the nutrient bandit. Fatty snacks are passed around like ghost stories at a campfire. The facts get a little more scary. A study published in April in The American Journal of Public Health, which investigated the physical health of 5,000 children from kindergarten to first grade, determined that the largest gains in body mass index (BMI) actually occurred during summer months when children were out of school. So are parents to blame for not constructing proper diets and exercise opportunities for their children?
 
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Often when you look at the parents of an obese child, more often then not, they parents are obese too! This makes since because health conscious parents would pass down their knowledge to their children (in moderation and still let their children indulge). Personally, both of my parents were very firm about me participating in sports. They were both over weight (not obese) and that gave me motivation to never end up like them.

While parents undoubtedly influence their children's eating and exercising habits to an extent, I don't think there is one single factor to "blame" when it comes to problems like this. Off the top of my head, those ubiquitous McDonald's restaurants with their playgrounds and little toys (not to mention the numerous commercials they have in-between TV shows for kids) aren't exactly encouraging kids to have a healthy lifestyle either.

Parents definitely influence their children's diet and fitness. Being aware of such things as the amount of MSG and high fructose corn syrup in a child's diet is crucial in moderating their health. Here's a great article I found on children's nutrition that covers food that contributes to child obesity and healthier alternatives:

http://www.peoplejam.com/blog/9288/great-tips-healthy-back-school-lunches 

 

I think it has to be a combination of both. Society has a huge pull on our children.  It is a daily struggle for me to fight the influence of the world outside my home. I do not buy junkfood for my children, or processed prepackaged, easy to prepare foods. Yet the schools "nutritious" lunch program is a joke. Family gatherings, times spent with friends, family members all influence them. Especially when they enter middle school and high school. I've taught taught them everything I can on nutrition, we read labels together at the grocery store, they all help in the kitchen and my two oldest are very good cooks. However, i'm afraid when they leave home they are going to rebel and wind up very unhealthy and overweight just trying to fit in. I couldn't imagine a mother who needs to work just to providefor her family trying to keep her children on a healthy diet while in daycare and after school programs, or one who is dependent on government and school lunch programs to feed her children. It is an uphill battle. I probably spend 6 + hours a day in my kitchen preparing , fresh, unprocessed foods for my kids, plus I have banned video games from our house and TV is limited to 30 minutes on school days and Sundays. Saturdays they are allowed a few hours if the weather is bad. Truthfully their friends think they are weird sometimes.  Parents are ultimately responsible for their children, yet many parents can't or don't have the necessary knowledge , finances or tools to raise healthy children. Society may not be responsible but we all bear the burden of the the cost to our society if we don't change and quickly.

I think this question is more that just "is the child obese?" and "Should the parents be to blame?".  I'll give you an example from my own personal files.

 My daughter - born 7 lbs 7 oz - Jan. 26, 2004

May 2006 (a little over 2 years old) - my daughter weighs 19 pounds

June 2006 - my daughter weighs 21 pounds

July 2006 - my daughter gains approximately 25 pounds in one month -- doctor puts her on a 1,500 calorie diet

October 2006 - my daughter gains another 10 pounds --- doctor puts her on a 1,000 calorie diet and blames us

January 2006 - daughter gains and loses another 5 pounds.

We spent all of 2006 in the hospital wondering what was wrong with our daughter who had NEVER had junk food, was breast fed for almost a year, and had 95% home cooked meals.  The doctors diagnosis: Childhood Obesity - 1,000 calorie diet.   CONSTANTLY putting the blame on home environment. 

I am 5'2 and 120 pounds and my husband is 6'3" and 205 pounds.  Avid mountain bikers and conscious eaters. 

Moving across country for a better hospital my daughter has a 45 minute seizure.  In December 2007 she is finally diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Cancer and ROHHAD Syndrome.  A lethal combination with no treatment or cure.

So instead of finding the real issue the doctor pushed us off as bad parents with an obese child.  And 99% of the world stares at my daughter for being overweight and says it's our fault.

She is now going in to her 2nd year of chemo and has developed bone loss in her hips.  Since finally being diagnosed we have met 5 other ROHHAD Children - there are only 30 children in the WORLD with this syndrome. 

 My suggestion to the world - think before you judge.  You have no idea what is wrong with that child.  Staring isn't going to help.

http://haveyroo.blogspot.com

I think everyone has a part to play in this.  The problem with blaming parents exclusively is that many parents do not know what to give their children to promote healthy eating, they are short on time and don't know how to fix quick and healthy meals, and are facing the fact that healthy food costs more money.

What we really need to do is take the time to educate both the schools and parents and present them with concrete solutions to these problems.  Give them a way to get the kids to make healthy choices.  Give them a way to shop smart but still in a healthy way.  Give them recipes that take 20 minutes instead of picking up the phone and ordering pizza.

That's what we really need to do.  Of course, parents have to be on board with this idea -- we can't force it.  When we provide the tools to help them to help themselves and their children, they no longer feel overwhelmed and guilty about the poor health of their family.  Now you have empowered them and given them something positive that can affect change in their family.

You know...child obesity is a farliacticle thing. In all means, hilraticly the obesity of children is an increasing palamic problem which shows my therpastic point. I think this palamic problem must abolish the point of gernaty. So for, the incrematic lortation shows the examin of portamin. This increasing forlum must debatigate.

-beogically Dr. Han

Dr Han

I think the morsis of the bioligical statement is portationing to the amount of legus. Child obesity is a posterapic point of dicratic malipitation. Child obesity should not be increasing as for it is parents fault of the dramalication of partimy.

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