Friday, April 9, 2010

Childhood Obesity, Part III: Don't be an enabler

195 pounds
I've talked before about my take on the current childhood obesity epidemic. As I mentioned in my "Letting Go" post, I don't think this problem can be solved until parents start letting their kids play outside as much as we did when we were kids (which was basically all the time).

The bottom line is that kids today are raised in a very insular and protected world—one in which they are not allowed to play outside alone, one in which they are given a trophy just for participating, and one in which they are not often enough held responsible for their actions. In a nutshell, kids today are coddled. And until we let them venture out on their own—into a world where there are consequences (both physical and emotional), they will become more and more lazy, entitled, and overweight.

I'm sorry if you think that's too blunt, but it's the truth.

But one of the things I haven't talked about is how we feed our kids today. Partially because the problem with the way kids eat isn't that different than the problems with the way us adults eat. We all eat too much processed food, and we all need to cook at home more. Even though I know this is true, over the past few weeks, I've become more aware of some additional issues with childhood nutrition.

One of them is obvious but bears repeating: the way adults enable their kids poor eating habits.

Dave and I were on a walk Tuesday when we came across a family of three: a father and his two kids, a boy and a girl, probably around ages nine and eleven.

The father was typical—middle-aged, a little bit overweight, but not unusually so.

But the kids stood out to me as being much bigger than normal—no, they weren't morbidly obese, but they were carrying much more weight on them than they should. They almost looked to me like the little boy in last summer's Up!—just too round.

But what was really alarming was what they were holding.

Both of them had gargantuan slurpee cups. I am not kidding when I say they were each about a foot tall. One had some kind of blue frozen drink, and the other was yellow.

They were both nursing these monster-sized sippy cups as the three of them walked over to a nearby grave (we were in the cemetery at the time), and I couldn't help but note the irony: would these kids die younger because of the junk food they were putting in their bodies? And more importantly, what kind of father would buy his kids that kind of crap??? Especially in such a large size and for kids who should be cutting calories rather than adding them?

I imagine that it must be difficult to say no to a child who begs and begs for something they really want. I can guarantee you that if I were a parent, I would be lousy at that kind of discipline. But I do know this—no matter how difficult it was, I would not let my children feast on a 100-ounce cocktail of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.

And I sure hope you don't either.


  1. Molly, Have you caught any of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC?

  2. No, Kara, but I really want to see it. Is it good?? When is it on?