Going Down the Wrong Path to Fight Children's Obesity
Posted May 13 2008 12:33pm
The other day I was thumbing through a parenting magazine and came across some disturbing news: the medical community is rethinking its recommendation that children under two should drink whole milk and instead may decide to encourage parents to offer their toddlers low-fat dairy.
Of course, the rational behind it is to prevent childhood obesity, but this proposed solution is hardly a prescription for good health. Children need nourishing fat in those early years for proper growth and brain development. Restricting it could be dangerous and impair this crucial development stage.
Additionally, a 2005 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found drinking too much milk--especially low-fat--caused weight gain in children. The researchers concluded that while quantity played a role in weight gain, fat did not. Furthermore, low-fat dairy usually has extra whey protein added to it, which may also play a role in helping to pack on extra pounds.
My darling two-year-old daughter, who has been drinking organic, non-homogenized, VAT pasteurized, whole milk from grass-fed cows since I weaned her around one, is the picture of health. I have no intention on switching her right now to low-fat milk.
My goal from day one is not to have a skinny child, but to have a healthy child with healthy eating habits. Because of that I chose to breast feed her for a year (which has been found to help prevent obesity); feed her nourishing whole foods (such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and nuts); avoid process foods as much as possible; ensure she gets plenty of healthy essential fatty acids (from wild salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, olive oil, etc.); limit her time in front of the television; and make sure she has daily, fun-filled, physical activity.
Additionally, my daughter will not be joining the "clean-your-plate" club, which most people from my generation were forced into by well-meaning parents. Instead, I let her decide when she is hungry and when she is full. It's an innate quality so kids are pretty good at eating just the right amount if you let them.
Removing fat from a diet may be an option for adults, but it's not an option for growing little bodies and minds. While the childhood obesity epidemic must be addressed, we should be looking at the many other factors contributing to this trend, including too much screen time, junk foods, soda and even juice.
However, before we go and change our children's eating habits, we need to examine our own. Most parents don't just pass on their genes to their little ones, but their unhealthy ways, too. If we become healthier role models, then our children will most likely follow.