Tuesday, July 19, 2011

childhood obesity

Last night I didn't cook, just hit up Chipotle.

Today I came across this article that discusses whether or not extremely obese children should be taken from their parents and put in foster care. While I don't agree or disagree right now, I do absolutely think that is a parents' duty to ensure their child is eating well. I think most parents who do not feed their children well are just ignorant...but is that an excuse? I mean, parents research neighborhoods to make sure their children grow up in a safe environment, they research schools to make sure they receive a good education, they research babysitters so they know they aren't leaving their children with some whack job...but a lot of time parents do not research how and what to feed their children. It is a basic right, and it is often overlooked. All children should have the right to health and an obesity-free future. I think the research should begin even before conception. If you are going to have a baby, you should make sure you have the healthiest gestation as possible. There are too many things that can happen to the baby (specifically immune deficiencies/autism). I realize this is often not the case, accidents happen! But when they do, it is important to begin research and make sure the baby is receiving everything it needs.

Unfortunately, the USDA guidelines are ridiculous and there is a ton of misinformation. But there are basics we all know are not healthy for anyone, much less children! Children should not drink soda. Children should not eat too much candy, cookies, cakes or ice cream. Well, children really shouldn't be eating sugar in general (which I assume most parents know, what's up, sugar high?!). Children should not eat processed, refined foods. Children should not be fed McDonald's because a person is too lazy/busy/tired to make dinner (at least go to Chipotle). Children should receive adequate amounts of fat (this goes for everyone, but specifically pregnant women and young children). The fat aids all cells, and is especially important for proper brain development. Don't forget, our brains are about 60% fat. Same goes for protein. Children should eat lots of veggies! And yeah, I've heard the whole my-kid-won't-eat-vegetables. Time and time again I've heard from parents who don't give their children junk food, that the kids eat whatever they make them and ENJOY it! Believe it or not, children who are not exposed to junk food actually prefer healthier choices. And here's the thing: children will not starve themselves. I actually saw an Episode of John and Kate Plus 8 in which someone asked Kate how she got her kids to eat the healthy food she served them, because they couldn't get their kids to eat healthy. She basically said kids get hungry, they aren't going to starve themselves, they will eat what is put in front of them. If they don't, they can go to bed hungry. She got her kids to eat well, and she has eight of them!

I do not have children. But if and when I decide to, I know that if it is a) planned, I will do my best to prepare for the gestation period or b) a mistake, I will immediately prepare my body for pregnancy. If you are unhealthy, if you are not willing to give your child the basic right to health, then don't have a child. In the article they discuss a 3 year-old girl that was 90 pounds. By age 12, she was 400. Her parents "had physical disabilities, little money and difficulty controlling her weight." Then they should have been responsible enough not to have the child, or to at least adopt. That is absolutely child abuse. I think that as a population (and I'm talking globally) we've started to treat having children as just another occurrence, like buying a car or taking a trip. We've become too nonchalant about parenting. These are lives. Having a child is no small endeavor. If you are going to procreate, at least do a good job. At least take care of yourself and your baby to ensure they have every opportunity and a basic right to their own health.

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