Obese Children Are Not To Blame

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Do obese children wake up every morning choosing to be overweight and unhealthy? Of course not. And yet more and more we see the effects of food choices on their growing bodies. These kids don't have a chance and can't control the outcome of their lives.

This was the picture in 2008 so go up from there. That's a whole generation off to a poor start.

"People often make the mistake of saying obesity is all about choice, but it's not just an individual issue. These decisions about what to eat, drink, and how active we are is shaped by the conditions in which we live." That's a down to earth quote from Adam Becker, executive director of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, which is made up of local health organizations.

He goes on to tell of a school where 97% of the kindergarden-through eighth grade students are poor enough to qualify for free lunch. The problem here is that free lunches (no such thing) are usually made up of processed food and are heavy in starch and fat.

How can you say that a child chooses to become severely overweight when almost every choice offered is shown to create metabolic syndrome (which we usually don't see until adulthood)? That little kid has no choice if he or she wants the largest meal of the day to be the one at school. There may not be much of one at home.

If you take into consideration the time, money and convenience, you can see how starchy, fatty foods are so popular. The absence of grocery stores in poor neighborhoods and the large number of convenience stores is an indicator of the quality of food a child can eat.

You've got to hand it to Michelle Obama who has made childhood obesity her cause. In an uphill battle, she is encouraging children to eat healthy foods and get more active. Right now she is touring the country appealing to children to change their lifestyles.

Sadly, since children can't change their lifestyle alone, there has to be a change in the home environment. When adults work one or two jobs just to keep the family going and living in a poor and often dangerous neighborhood, it's easy to see that fast food is easier to get a hold of and you don't have to play outside.

I takes years to teach children that they don't have to stuff themselves with unhealthy food and generations of support within the community to make these changes. It's not enough to encourage change in the schools for a few hours a day when the rest of the day is spent in the family environment.

And the news in the Chicago school system isn't encouraging either. The state of Illinois where I live has been rated as the fourth highest percentage of obese children as of July 2011. We are in the same ranking as Texas and several other states in the South.

No, being fat is nothing to laugh at. We have a serious public health issue to address. As these children grow older, we will be footing the bill for chronic illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other diseases that used to be seen only in adults. Your grandma may have diabetes, is going blind and ready for a heart attack....but a 6 year old?

Your investigative reporter~Jessica

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It is a sad state of affairs! I am so grateful I wasn't fat as a child growing up! Glad my parents fed me the right foods and wouldn't let me eat the junk food! Mostly because it was expensive to get all that extra food! But, whatever the reason, I am glad for it! Feel so bad for the kids growing up today...with all the junk food and now computers with games, etc. on them. Most just eat and sit! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1905 days ago
  • SAMI199
    emoticon I am more aware of just how difficult it is to raise kids in a economically-challenged area-(is that PC?) It is overwhelming to think about how difficult it must be to try find ways to provide healthy meals & a safe environment -kids just can't go out & play-there is apartment living -you just can't have the kids jumping & making a lot of noise...and most parents are working long hours-with a commute thrown in the mix. The only thing to do is
    work within our local communities-volunteer for an after school program-see what is out there to help the parents be healthier-they have a choice-but it's not an easy one.
    1906 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/2/2013 6:01:53 AM
  • SHARON10002
    Agree with all that is said here. It is a mulch-faceted problem. First of all, everyone is too busy. Parents are stressed out from commuting and working, and their kids have so many social activities and sports. With all of the different schedules and time constraints it's hard to get everyone together to eat it.

    Then you have the issue of the media, and what is that mostly constructed of? Advertisements. Heck, you can't get away from them anymore. We're bombarded by them by everything - TV, radio, cellphone, movie theater, parking lot, and the list goes on . . . While I am not an advocate of having the government tell me what I should and should not eat, they could do more to pressure the food industry to conform to healthier standards. The first issue they could tackle is the sodium level in all foods. How can you cut processed foods when you have led the charge in reducing the farmland, and the number of framers in our country that raise and grow the fresh food we desire as our government has been doing for the last almost 40 years? That's just the beginning. . .We used to be a balanced country - agriculture and manufacturing, but not anymore. How do you feel about most of what you buy coming from other countries? What do you know about their quality control standards? I was in Whole Foods today, and I looked at a variety of fish - Singapore, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia,. . . Out of over a dozen types of fish, 2 were from the USA. It's the same with our fruits and vegetables; not sure about the meat. Check it out the next time you are shopping.

    Unfortunately those who cannot afford it have no choice - they must eat what the government provides. Eaten any school lunches lately, or in a shelter? How about hospitals where you think food should be healthy!?

    It's not an easy fix, but I do believe that everything worthwhile starts at home. 'Nuff said.

    1907 days ago
    My elementary school years were mostly spent living on a farm. We had plenty of milk and eggs and rarely any junk food or candy. I don't remember any children who were overweight. Our days were spent either in school or playing outdoors until it was dark. It was a wonderful way to grow up.
    1907 days ago
    Keep Reporting!
    1907 days ago
    1907 days ago
    What foods are advertised on TV, which kids spend an inordinate amt. of time watching? Not health foods for sure. When's the last time you saw an advertisement for broccoli, carrots or cauliflower? Come to think of it, the only time I've seen veggies really "advertised" it wasn't the veggies being advertised -- it was the ranch dressing to dip the veggies in!

    Why are the "junk foods" advertised? Because they're paying LOTSA money to do that (and MAKING lotsa money, becasue that's what is bought!)

    Ever look @ the coupons in the Sunday paper ads? Few and far between are the coupons that are useful to me because most of the coupons are for the processed foods I don't use!

    Then what hapens? The pharmaceutical companies are more than willing to step up to the plate and "cure" our food-driven illnesses with "magic pills". OY

    I really did try to teach my kids to eat healthfully from a very young age. But truth be told, once they are school age, much of our parental influence is waning.

    But we're not powerless! Setting good examples for our kids is probably more powerful than any lecture we can give them.

    I feel sooooo very blessed to be able to eat supper as a family. That's where real learning happens!
    1908 days ago
    It hurts my heart to see this generation of obese kids...
    1908 days ago
    It is a major problem and I'm glad to see Michelle Obama on board to address it.
    1908 days ago
    Poverty is crushing in many ways. It crushes the spirit. I have many resources and sometimes find it difficult to cook from scratch. So many of the working poor have 2 jobs, no benefits, no health insurance, no sick leave etc. I want them to make better choices, but I completely understand how hard it is. Limited sources of healthy food, low levels of education etc.
    I once asked my Grandmother why she never learned to speak English (better than broken English), even though she arrived in the USA at age 17 in 1900. She described a life working as a cleaning lady with a husband working dawn to dusk in the coal mines and trying to take care of her children. Then he became disabled with Black Lung disease (no benefits) and things got worse. She described being exhausted and I found it hard to tell her she should have tried harder.
    1908 days ago
    It is sad that parents don't take the time to make dinner. I know that school provided food is all some children get. I have worked in schools where children did not want school breaks because that was maybe the last meal they had until they were back at school. That being said, quick meals can be healthy. I work and we always had family dinners that were quick like: pork chops with broccoli and potatoes. I think it is saddest when I see the families eating fast food because their schedule is so full of other stuff that meals at home are unheard of.
    Some schools are showing that the school can do meals cheaper and better than what the feds provide. Now we have to raise children to eat things that are new to them.
    1908 days ago
    It's sad, isn't it.
    1908 days ago
    Parents just don't want to be parents anymore, They are too busy.
    1908 days ago
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