Time Magazine Article "The Skinny on Childhood Obesity"

Saturday, June 26, 2010


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David has a weekly subscription to Time Magazine, and yesterday our July 5th issue came in the mail.  As I was browsing through it, I came across a two page article written in conjunction with the American Heart Association called "The Skinny on Childhood Obesity" and then another one page article directly following called  "Weighing America's Future."  These two articles caught my attention and so I started reading.  
Childhood obesity is becoming a national epidemic, one out of every three children is obese, ONE OUT OF EVERY THREE! In addition, the article states that 40% of obese children and 70% of obese teenagers will become obese adults.  That is a pretty scary thought, especially since pediatricians are seeing more and more cases of type II diabetes and heart disease in children and adolescents than ever before, conditions that were once only diagnosed in adults!
So what is being done to help curb this problem?  Well, the government is finally beginning to step in.  Michelle Obama has started a national program called "Let's Move" that is focused on four goals:

  1. Increased nutrition information 
  2. Increased physical activity
  3. Easier access to healthy foods
  4. Personal Responsibility
The federal government is supporting this project by giving $1 billion a year for the next ten years.  Private sectors have also joined in the fight by providing guidelines and programs for pediatricians, educators, parents, and children.  
This is all well and good, but I truly believe that this epidemic is not going to be over until the government starts to regulate the ingredients that are put into our foods, and until people begin taking the processed foods out of their diets and replace them with whole and natural foods.  

Here are some suggestions given for making healthy changes and what I think about these ideas:
  1. Stock the pantry with nutritious snacks such as fresh and dried fruit, pretzels, plain popcorn, and granola cereal - This is a great idea, although vegetables need to have a place here.  Carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, sugar snap peas, sliced kohlrabi, and sliced peppers are all really great ideas for snacks.  Also, be careful with things like popcorn and pretzels.  Make sure that they do not contain any offensive ingredients. You can check my "yucky no no" list by clicking here.  In my house, we buy popcorn kernels and pop it ourselves.  Granola cereal can be ok, but you have to check to make sure that it does not contain any of the offensive ingredients.
  2. Instead of sugar sweetened beverages, fruit drinks, and fruit juice, switch to flavored seltzer and low fat milk - Ok, again, in principle this is a good idea, however, I can guarantee you that a drink sweetened with sugar is not what you are going to find 99.9% of the time.  The sweeteners in a majority of these drinks INCLUDING flavored seltzer is going to be artificial, whether it be HFCS or Splenda (and yes, Splenda IS bad for you!) so it is best to keep your sweetened drinks in moderation.  If you want juice, (which I happen to love juice), keep it in moderation, and only buy juice that says 100% fruit juice.  I would say stick to drinking water and milk.  
  3. Limit video games and TV to only two hours per day - I would say even less than that
  4. Sit down to healthy, regularly scheduled family dinners.  What parents eat, and how much can help kids develop good eating patterns for life -YES!  I agree wholeheartedly with this!  I believe families should eat together, it has many, many more benefits beyond the dinner table.  However, we should also take to heart the second part of this: WHAT PARENTS EAT DIRECTLY AFFECTS CHILDREN'S GOOD EATING HABITS! That means that it kind of defeats the purpose if parents are serving highly processed foods and junk foods.
  5. Start a Vegetable garden where children can plant greens of their choice- This is a great idea, or join your local CSA!  Get your kids involved, show them the source of their food.  
  6. Plan physical activity- focused family outings, even if it's just a walk or bike ride.  Families that play together stay healthy. - Can't argue with that!
As I said earlier, we can implement all of these things and ultimately the nation WILL get healthier, but if we truly want to beat this obesity epidemic the government has got to start regulating the WAY that foods are processed.  In many countries High Fructose Corn Syrup and partially hydrogenated oils are illegal.  Think about the way our grandparents ate, and the generations before them.  They ate foods made from whole and natural ingredients.  Things like butter, sugar, meat, and whole grain breads.  They were not obese.  They moved more, ate smaller portions, and ATE NATURALLY!  There was never any debate about whether something made in a lab was better than something that came from a natural source, because there wasn't an option for lab altered processed foods.  Why can't we get back to that in this country?  It would make much better sense.

Until next time, happy and HEALTHY cooking and EATING!


6 comments:

Jessica Anne said...

Great post! I agree, HFCS and trans fats should be banned. There are way too many processed foods available in this country.

I really try to model good nutrition for my kids, b/c they will eat what you eat. Even if you don't let them have candy as toddlers, if they see you scarfing it down, you can bet they will when they are able to get it themselves (like at school).

I really wish packaging labels would be more stringently regulated. A lot of people don't know how to read the actual ingredient list, and just look at the package that says "natural" on the front. Very deceptive in my opinion.

I'm surprised by granola as a healthy option. I suppose it's better than chips, but it can be kind of high in calories, and if you get the kind with chocolate in it, a significant amount of sugar too.

Thanks for the info!

frenchieliza said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Jessica Anne! I believe that reading an ingredient list is a must because food manufacturers are very gifted at deception when it comes to telling us what is in our food. They know that people are not going to bother reading the ingredient list so they put something like "made with whole grains" on the front, which makes people think it is healthy. Never-mind the fact that the amount of whole grains is probably next to nothing! I have an entire post on reading labels, actually I think it's the same one as my "yucky no no" list. As far as the granola, I am less concerned about sugar as I am about HFCS and other artificial sweeteners. The fact of the matter is that most granola is going to be sweetened with something artificial, not sugar, a natural ingredient. HFCS IS dangerous, and it makes me sick that the corn industry is allowed to advertise it as being "natural" and "ok in moderation." Not natural, and not ok, even in moderation.
Thanks again for your comment. Your insights are wonderful!

Cheri Newton said...

Thank you for this post. It gives me some great ideas for the future. One thing I know we don't do but would like to is eat dinner together. Right now it's hard, and may be for a while, because Doug's work schedule is never consistent and will only get worse when he starts his ACINT training...won't get home until 6 or 7 pm! But we used to have so much junk on our kitchen table and I just recently cleared it off and I keep it cleared off and we eat on it more. (we do eat in the living room a lot...lol) But I am working on it.

What is a selter water? Is that those flavored waters?

I have actually cut WAY down on juices lately and give Miles more milk and the flavored water, and actually just plain water. For one, it was costing us too much to stock up on juice. I had switched to Welch's because it seemed to be the best out of the others...Juicy Juice has a lot of bad stuff in it, and maybe Welch's does too but it seems better.

A bad habit we have is television...I let Miles watch SO much of it. It's horrible and I know it, but when I need a break or need him to stop being clingy it's the tv I turn to to help out. This is a bad habit I had growing up as a kid and it's very hard to break but I will make a conscious (sp?) effort to cut it out more and more. What is a good game Miles could play? I noticed you have some of those puzzle piece games, where he sticks the different shaped animals in the right place. Anything else you can suggest?

My biggest problem is being motivated. It's hard for me to get out of bed most days, let alone take the kids outside. We live in one of the most beautiful places and I can't bring myself to take my kids outside and enjoy it. Maybe it's depression, because on my good days I will go to the park outside and talk to other parents. I think what keeps me inside is that I just don't want to converse with anyone, so I just become a hermit. That and money is always an issue. I did get Miles a year membership to the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, it's just a matter of getting out and going. It's always horrible timing because it's open from 9-1 during the week...and no matter what time we go during that, he is so tired and cranky because pretty much anytime in between is could be his naptime.

Anyway, thanks for posting this. I am very happy that your blog is starting to take off. I knew it would!

frenchieliza said...

Cheri - thanks so much for your comment. I can honestly say that I wish you and I could be in the same place. I feel the same way as you in a lot of ways. Moving to Iowa has been one of the hardest things in my life. I feel lonely and isolated a majority of the time. It has been really hard making friends here and I miss my family terribly. I wish on a daily basis I could just go back to Seattle and be with my family and my best friend. That is part of the reason I started this blog. It is like my escape from life here in Iowa. And it truly is a release, it truly is a way for me to get my voice out there again and not feel so alone.
I also understand where you are coming from with eating dinner together. David has a funky work schedule too, so sometimes we eat breakfast together instead of dinner, but Daniel and I always sit down together.
Anyway, onto your questions. Seltzer water is like Perrier, basically carbonated water. I think it is gross but some people like it.
As far as games and stuff, yes, Daniel has a lot of puzzles that have different shapes and he LOVES those. He also likes to put objects in containers and pour those containers around. I usually give him some beans or little macaroni and some small containers and let him just play with those. Sometimes I fill the sink up with water and let him play with his boats and ducks in the sink. When cooking dinner, I give him a job so he is occupied, like he is a champion at washing the salad greens. Things have been difficult since he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder but he has been making improvements with his therapy, but that takes up a ton of time too. Anyway, I need to go get ready for church but I will get on later and respond some more! Thank you for reading Cheri!

Cheri Newton said...

I have been meaning to ask you, has the change in his diet (no dairy, etc.) helped his disorder at all? That is a form of Autism right? I have noticed a huge difference in Miles since taking a lot of juice away...and not for the better. Only because since he doesn't have as much sugar, he is SO SO cranky before bedtime, and even in the 3 or 4 hours leading up to it. I may need to start giving him two naps again. He probably ran on the sugar from the juice and now that it's not there as much it's hell for us all lol.

I have thought about starting a blog on here but I don't know what to write about. I have nothing to offer, and if I wrote about the kids it would probably end up just being me venting and be negative lol.

That is a great idea about the beans or macaroni. I have both in the pantry and I could give him that to pretend he is cooking or something. Before I never gave him anything that was cooked to play with or stir because I didn't want the mess.

frenchieliza said...

No the diet change didn't do anything so I just gave up on that. He loves cheese too much anyway =). You could start a photography blog, don't you like photography? You could write about anything you like, there are lots of blogs I follow that are just "life in general" blogs, whatever the blogger feels like writing.
I think if Miles has a job, if he feels like he is helping you, even if it is something that isn't really helping, it would be good. Daniel loves to feel like he is helping, even if I just give him a bowl and a spoon and let him play with that.

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