Here is a link to a Washington Post article about obesity in both urban and suburban children.
As many readers know, I have done a few other posts on obesity and focused particularly on overweight children.
This article in the Post quotes parents and dietitians making excuse after excuse for overweight children, and it is oh so easy to buy into. “There aren’t enough outreach programs,” “Our schedules are so hectic,” etc.
My response: if you didn’t allow your child to become overweight in the first place, you would not need an outreach program. If you took the time to be a disciplined, interactive parent, you could do yourself for free what outreach programs do for a cost. An added benefit is that the parents, instead of a strange instructor works side by side with their children.
You don’t need to pay an outreach program to tell you what’s wrong. Why do you need someone to tell you skim milk is healthier than 2%? Why should you have to pay someone to tell you that carrots are better for you than chips; that going for a walk is better than watching television; that a turkey sandwich is less fatal than fries and a coke?
One parent stated that it is so frustrating when her son says “you’re a mean mom for not letting me have this milk shake. It’s not fair.” Okay, and whose fault is it that your son associates your love for him with food.
I spend most of the summer with my aunt and uncle and their two kids who are 4 and 6. Jacob, 4, is in soccer and t-ball. Katie, 6, is in gymnastics. Their parents have instilled in them a sense of self-restraint with regard to food indulgence. The kids regard french fries as a sort of special treat only eaten on the rarest of occasions. They do not drink pop- only milk, water, and 100% juice. They walk their children to school pending the weather. The kids play outside almost every day. They eat at least two fruits at every breakfast and two vegetables at every lunch. Despite my aunt’s full time job as a judge with DCFS and my uncle’s job as an attorney who owns his own firm, they find time to keep their children healthy and active. It requires discipline; it requires time, but their children are worth it.
Parents who claim they are too busy to prepare and offer healthy meals, physical activity, and regular meal times to their children, in my opinion, are not trying hard enough. There is certainly something in EVERYONE’S day that can be sacrificed for the health of their children. This should be an unquestioned fact of good parenting.
Parents: stop making excuses. Stop waiting until your child has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a low tolerance for physical activity. Stop waiting until there is a problem before taking action. I feel like we choose instead to pay for a remedy “after the fact” rather than put in the time and effort to take preventitive measures. WE ARE KILLING OUR CHILDREN.
Obesity is a big problem, and it starts with every one of us. Parents must be willing to take individual responsibility (and yes, even blame) for their child’s health and weight from the get go. It is far easier to instill and establish good habits early on than to try to rectify deeply-rooted mistakes later in life.
Some may point to the fact that I am not a parent- that I do not know the struggles parents face in issues such as these. I would disagree. I know the eating and living habits my mother worked diligently to help me with. I know that for this reason I avoid sweets, junky snacks, and fast food. For this reason, I take time out of my very busy schedule as a student with a double major, a part-time job, and the position as president of my college to run three miles four times a week. I walk instead of driving my car whenever possible. I eat until I am satisfied and I do not overfeed myself. I know how to live in a healthy way, and I know why I am able to make these choices- because my parents taught me how.
Once I am a parent, I will care enough for my children’s well-being to promote similar life style choices. I want my children to be happy and healthy, right from the start.