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Expert Solutions: Overweight Kids

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


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  • My kid has been on spring break and already has lost some weight because we are being more active and I'm providing what he eats. As much as I tell him to make healthy choices at school it's not always possible. Will keep trying.
  • I understand about kids mirroring parents eating and such. But before kindergarten this year for my youngest she loved fruits veggies and quinoa and all things healthy. Now with all the other kids saying how they hate fruits and veggies she is refusing them repeatedly at home. I pack her lunch the majority of the time and let her pick what she wants for fruits and veggies and that helps she does eat them then during lunch. It also doesn't help that this year the kindergarten teacher does not say the kids need to bring a healthy snack, instead they bring whatever the parents who don't know better send...oreos, cookies, Fruit roll ups, all junk almost every day. When I asked about it I was told parents are in a hurry and grab junk. Really? How hard is it to grab bananas instead of cookies? I was also told if I didn't want my child having the junk snack she could bring one. And of course then she will be singled out for eating healthy and not eating all the junky cookies! Then the chocolate milk a lunch too that almost all the kindergarteners take. Not every school has a fancy healthy lunch program, that would great though! The school even gives junk to the kids so it's all a big mess. So if a child is eating breakfast, snack and lunch at school they have it pretty bad even before they get home. If a child picks the cereal line at school it totals 12 teaspoons of sugar with the muffin, cereal and chocolate milk they take. No joke and then snack, 3 teaspoons sugar in the Oreos. Rant over...
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    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.
  • 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.
  • There should not be a picture of an overweight baby for this article. In no way does overweight infants correlate to childhood obesity.
  • 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?
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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..
  • 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.
  • 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.

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