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Expert Solutions: Overweight Kids

SparkPeople Experts and Coaches Weigh-In on Issues with Overweight Children


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  • Good points in this article. I would like to add that the built environments for children have changed since I was a child several decades ago. There are less places outside to play, and many cannot afford a home with a good yard for their children to play in.

    That being said, other ways can be found. I used to walk my children to the local farmers' markets to pick up fresh produce a few times a week, having them pick out something new we had never eaten and carrying our halls back home. We also used to walk to the beach and search for tiny crabs, shells and other treasures. We also walked around a lake in the middle of our city, stopping at the playground for fun activities with other children.

    Today, I do some of these activities with my grandson of four. He also enjoys going to a kids gym for children of ALL ability levels to go rock climbing, tumbling, trampoline time, nerf ball games and other interactive play with other children.

    I do keep some treats in my house, but healthy foods are displayed in abundance. My grandson does not get the treats until all healthy foods are eaten first and treats are not given every time he comes over...they are given out occasionally. He has always been told foods like cashews and raisins are his "treats". - 1/13/2017 3:57:18 AM
  • Great article. At 55 pounds and nine years old, my child is very thin, but she could use some of these suggestions. She does do martial arts and plays outside a lot, but she is a potato-chip-a-holic and needs balanced meals. She also can sit an entire day watching videos.

    Growing up, I did not eat much. I was very thin, so my parents would sit with me for hours forcing me to eat. They would give me injections to stimulate my diet, but it didn't work. If I didn't eat, my neighbor would lock me in a closet and my dad once lost his cool and threw a bowel of spaghetti at me. My grandmother would cry because my ribs were showing. A well meaning neighbor gave my parents food donations, thinking they couldn't afford to feed me. Simply, I just didn't want to eat and nobody wanted thin kids. My sister was obese, but that was considered cute in kids.

    I decided I want going to put my daughter through such trauma, but I still wanted her to eat. I gave her chips and candy, just to get something in her. Luckily she doesn't like candy anymore, but there are a couple other things like hot dogs and bacon that she will eat in excess. She is still thin but weaning her off the junk food is not easy. She really doesn't eat much of anything, so healthy meals are hard.

    I am not saying that I am having it any harder than the parent or an overweight child, I'm not This article serves as a reminder to me, however, that thin is not necessarily healthy and I have to do a better job. - 7/27/2016 8:32:40 AM
  • When I was a kid, we were required by our parents to either be in a sport or to take dance lessons. There were six of us kids in the house. What I have noticed is that while we all had had a genetic predisposition towards being overweight, those of us who stuck with the dancing or sports have grown into adults who are not obese. Those of us who dropped the activities are now really heavy.

    Causation doesn't equal I don't know if that early activity somehow changed us physically so that we've had an easier time with weight issues earlier in life, or if our ability to stick with it indicated that we had the sort of personality that allowed us to be self-disciplined. - 9/29/2015 10:16:04 AM
  • I can't vote in your poll because you're lacking an option.
    Who makes kids fat? Kids.
    As a fat kid, I knew when I was overeating, and I did it anyway. I was responsible for my weight, which shot up after a tonsillectomy when I was five.
    Not my mom, not the doctor, most certainly not the schools.
    I went on a diet and stuck to it and got skinny as an adolescent because I wanted to, and not because some meddling adult made me, and by doing so I learned that, with self-discipline and perseverance, I could change my situation. - 4/24/2015 4:43:24 PM
    Great article. I have a child that is obese. As the parent, I take full responsibility for it. As the parent I allowed too many hours of tv and video games. There has been too much fast food and too many excuses. As soon as I accepted that the issue was with me and his dad, we got on the right track. We can see the differences in the entire family already. - 2/19/2014 5:55:34 AM
  • Great article!!! After reading it I have decided that starting tomorrow(it is after 10pm) we will be doing a 15 minute family dance-a-thon!!!! I have already started making nutritious meals, and controlling portions, now I will add this.
    Cheers!!! - 12/1/2013 10:59:50 PM
  • There should not be a picture of an overweight baby for this article. In no way does overweight infants correlate to childhood obesity. - 4/26/2013 9:04:39 AM
  • Is Becky serious? If Obama and Kim Jong-un just played a game of roundball, everything would ok between East and West?

    The reason I was ovweweight as a kid is that my folks were too busy taking care of the household or its finanances to watch me play outdoors and they did not trust the neighbors to do it. Maybe ther was too much tv, soda, and convenience foods too. They did not know better. They grew up in agricultural communities and had no free time or extra food as they were growing up. They did not want their kids to have it as tough as them. They did not know it would make us lazy and fat.

    My generation can facilitate better food choices for our children, but where in the country can kids play all day unsupervised? - 4/21/2013 12:56:42 PM
  • KLUTZY68
    I liked the article too. I just started reading "The Hunger Fix" by Pam Peeke, MD. There is some recent research about how eating certain foods destroys parts of genes and results in uncontrolled hunger and food addiction. This genetic change can be passed on to the children, or caused by their own diet. I'm only on page 14 but I now know why I gained up to the SMO level and could NOT stop eating. The book seems to fill in some of the missing pieces of the obesity puzzle. Very interesting! - 4/21/2013 12:02:55 PM
  • I think it's incredibly irresponsible and misleading to have a picture of an infant under this headline. Babies and diets never, ever, ever mix, and even though your article is about older children, it can still trigger an inexperienced parent into thinking their healthy, chubby baby is eating too much. That's not the kind of mixed messaging I'd expect from a health-focused website. - 4/21/2013 8:16:07 AM
  • I was an obese child before this "obese epidemic". My father was in the military, fit, and my mom was constantly on diets. I know that the high sodium (and especially after my parents divorced) highly processed foods did not help me get or stay healthy, despite walking often, I was also pretty sedentary. I was forced into mandatory, humiliating phys education; and made to "play outside"/not allowed inside by people who watched me after school. Playing outside isn't what keeps kids thin.

    I still believe that it was not just the food and exercise that was wrong - it was simply the wrong mix for MY body. My pre-8 year old body adapted fine with the level of growth and exercise. Then I hit puberty early, and that body didn't do as well with that environment, and neither did my emotional state and upheaval.

    I'm disappointed that there are limited choices in the related "who's to blame" poll - I think that we are all missing the point. Coach Nicole got the closest in reminding us that many ADULTs are obese, and that population is growing, so naturally, so follows the results in rise of childhood obesity.

    With less nutritious food, it's easy and fast for me to eat 3 or 4 times the calories and fat in ONE day that I need to maintain my weight. But it's hard for me to eat the same volume of foods that are more nutritious. Physically less possible, and, I think that because it is more nutritious, my body doesn't cry out for more and more food.

    Just some thoughts..
    Jocelyn - 1/29/2013 12:08:11 AM
  • I teach at a large, inner-city middle school and hardly any of our students are overweight. I am not sure if its genetics, life-style, or what. I do know that we have a large sports program, and mandatory PE. As a teacher, and a person who struggles with weight, I know this is a complex problem, with no easy solutions. - 1/28/2013 5:57:27 PM
  • Kids don't get recess and gym class as much anymore. Portion sizes have gotten bigger. Too much of stuff will make kids overweight (even if it is healthy things like grain bread, whole wheat pasta, cheese, nuts) It is convienent to go through the drive through and get $1 menu items like burgers and fries. WIth so many adults overweight, it is becming the norm for kids to be overweight too. - 1/28/2013 12:54:45 PM
  • I read this article, and as a mom I have to say, it's scarey to turn my kids loose outside all day. I worry about today's society. Neighbors are not watching each other's kids like they used to. And I certainly can't neglect my chores, job search responsibilities, and meal preparations in order to be out there with them every minute of the day. In fact, today we can't even trust our neighbors. I've heard too many storys of children being kidnapped out of their own yards or while riding their bikes. And sometimes the child is being held in the basement of the neighbors house, while the neighbor pretends to help look for the child. I may be a little paranoid- but my kids are safe. They only go out when I am able to keep a really close eye on them. I do prefer them to play inside for this reason- unless I am able to be outside with them or we make a family trip to the park. I do believe in playing board games, cards, dancing to music, reading, and playing inside rather than watching TV all day though. I like the video games from WII and XBox that require movement and encourage those as well.

    I want a YMCA membership, but it is too expensive. I applied for financial assistance and they were only willing to reduce the monthy fee by $10. That certainly didn't do enough to make it affordable. I want to take my kids swimming and rock wall climbing... I want them to have these experiences and I want them to learn to enjoy the gym. But when you are on a fixed income it makes it pretty challenging. If Planet Fitness can offer memberships for $10 a month with no joining fee, why can't a non-profit organization like the YMCA offer something better than $50 a month and a joining fee for a family of 3? It's ridiculous. I do partly blame communities and society in general for this epidemic.

    My son is in scouts and my daughter is in gymnastics. My son is overweight, but not obese. I don't buy many sweets for the house- but they get candy at school all the time, I can't be there with him to make sure he makes the right choices at lunch time, I can't go on all his camping trips to make sure he limits his smores intake or that he politely refuses the junk food he is offered by other scouts... or that the meals they have are nutritious. But he is learning a lot of other important life skills in scouts, and for their social development I believe it is important that they are involved in and belong to something outside of school. I can't do these things and pay for a gym membership at the YMCA on my income as a single parent who is unemployed. Then you have grandparents and after school care (when I'm working)... that could be another whole paragraph. My point is... a child's experience in life and the habits he/she picks up can come from any number of people or social situations that parents are not always a part of. I can express my concerns to grandparents- but when they don't listen, do I forbid my chlld to spend time with them? I'd like to see these concerns addressed in an article. A single parent's good example may not go far when the rest of the world isn't walking the same line. I face similar challenges with religion and morals in general as well, among other things.

    I know there are things that I could improve on at home.. and I am working on those things now. However, I believe our communities could do a lot more to help out, but they won't because of greed and lack of a genuine commitment to community. There are a lot of "concerns" expressed, but everyone is still expected to fit into some catagory or some set of policies and proceedures apply... there is no case by case consideration, no "concern" if you can't check box A, or don't fit into category B. And it seems like everyone is so self-centered and the focus seems to mostly be on individualism instead of community betterment... and more and more often, those of us who are the most deserving of some temporary assistance fall through the cracks. As a parent I can only do so much to shape the mind (and body) of my children, the rest is greatly impacted by our society and our communities. - 1/28/2013 9:55:52 AM
  • Great article~ It is tough because in my home the children are exposed to healthy foods and I play regularly with them (Wii, frisbee, walks, biking). However their father is very overweight and does not exercise. Additionally at his house they don't eat very well. I'm only hoping that they keep following a positive example because I do agree that, while outside factors influence what kids eat, they can only eat what is in the house - and that is brought in by the adults.

    Take some responsibility - 1/28/2013 9:10:12 AM

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