Parents are the problem with Childhood Obesity


If you were to ask any parent, “What is the most important thing to you in your life?” I would think that 100% of them would say their children are.

It baffles me then, when I see obese kids. On one hand, the parents care so much for them, but on the other hand they allow abuse to occur to their children’s bodies. I put the majority of the blame on the parents. I think they are 80% responsible for what goes into their children’s mouths.

The child starts with breast milk, a smart choice by the mother, maybe followed by formula, baby cereal, mashed foods and eventually solid foods. Somewhere around the time the child becomes a toddler things start to go wrong.

How the parents practice their nutrition begins to rub off on the child. The child learns from the parent’s behavior: monkey see monkey do. I put 15% of the blame on the fast food reliance we have created. The world is full of unhealthy fast foods, technology that has made us lazy, advertisements on television that constantly bombard us with these images, and suburban developments that make it difficult to get anywhere without using a car. The last 5% of the blame rests on the child. Ultimately, what you put in your mouth is a decision that you make.

Now that I have distributed fault, it seems logical that the focus should be placed on the parents, since they are the biggest contributing factor of childhood obesity. We cannot individually change the direction the world is going, but we can change how our children function and make conscious food choices.

The number one reason I hear parents give for not taking care of their children properly is “lack of time.” I know you have to work 10 hour days, sleep 6 hours, clean the house, get the kids off to school, pick them up, do the shopping, cut the grass, shovel the snow, answer your emails and on and on. I guess my answer to this is “What is the consequence of how you spend your time.” Perhaps feeding your children responsibly now will save them countless hours in the gym trying to get rid of their excessive weight.

How about this for a scenario as a result of being overweight as a child:

At six years old, they find they can’t play with other kids. Their peers ostracize them. Left behind at any cardiovascular event because of the unnecessary excessive weight they are carrying. Other children are jumping around socializing and having fun. Your overweight child is crying because everyone is making fun of how slow they are.

At nine years of age you see your child at home all the time playing video games. They never go outside to shoot a ball into a net, ride their bike around the block or play with the neighborhood children. It becomes too difficult to move, so the only option is sitting watching a screen.

At 12 years of age they don’t want to go to school because it’s gym class day. It’s obvious that they want to miss it because they can’t do anything but that’s not the real problem. In the dressing room afterwards all the other boys see a prime time to bully your son. They see the fat rolls and proceed to hit him repeatedly with wet towels leaving multiple painful welts. It gets worse when they grab him by the underwear and pull it up in a wedgie fashion over the testicles ripping it. He may try not to cry but the tears are inevitable. This gives the bullies something else to target.

At 17 you ask why they are not going to the prom. Finding the courage to ask someone who is willing to be seen with him or her in public plus finding clothes that fit are too difficult. Why would they take a chance of being made fun of again?

During university they do well at classes but never participate in intramural sports or social events. They just study, sleep and eat. They come out of university the heaviest they have ever been in their lives.

Looking for their first job becomes difficult. They are passed over in favor of other applicants because of how they look. Why would an employer hire an obese person when they can get the same qualified person of normal weight? They would have less sick days and have better personalities to integrate with other workers because during their childhood they played and fit in with the other kids.

At 50 they have a heart attack.

It now becomes a choice. Is your lack of “time” going to be the factor that determines your child’s development and life. Do you try to figure out ways to make time? Do you become a good role model and lead a healthy lifestyle? Do you educate yourself about proper eating and exercise? Do you learn how to cook a healthy meal instead of buying fast food? Do you seek help?

What you do now is huge. What you do now will affect your child’s life. The most precious thing is being a healthy role model to your family. Who cares if it take a little extra time? At the end of the day it’s worth every minute.

7 replies
  1. Amanda says:

    I agree with you that parents are responsible for what their children eat, but I don’t think that the situation is quite so cut and dried as this. Schools with soda machines and frequent “pizza lunches” and cafeteria food are also to blame. And emphasizing individual choice eschews the socioeconomic dimension of the problem. Fruits and vegetables are expensive, and food prices are rising. Low-income households are pushed toward kraft dinner and potato chips out of necessity. Not to mention that poor neighborhoods are often located far from major grocery stores. Families without a car can end up being forced to do their grocery shopping at 7-11. I think educating parents to make healthier choices on an individual level is a good idea, but we need to go further by getting the schools on board, and promoting social programs to ensure that children from low-income households have access to fruits and vegetables.

  2. Nancy says:

    According to 2001 data, obese children are more likely than non-obese children to face health problems in the short term, including hypertension, glucose intolerance and orthopaedic complications, as well as issues concerning social acceptance, body image and self-esteem. Even more serious health conditions await them as adults, since childhood obesity is associated with diabetes, heart disease and other problems.

    All too often parents say they have no time to cook…..that’s a load of crap. Parents need to be more accountable. Healthy eating is a way of life…just start saying no to your children, be a healthy role model, and start making your child’s health a number one priority. Start planning, quit complaining, and start living.

    I’m looking forward to an X-Weighted Family Intervention Program! And I agree, PARENTS ARE THE PROBLEM TO CHILDHOOD OBESITY!!

  3. Mary C says:

    I thought this website was to educate and modivate people – not for this Nancy person to come on and spew her personal opionion on people. Is this her site or Paul’s????

  4. admin says:

    Hey Mary! It’s Paul’s site, for sure. But we added the comments feature so that people could share their opinions and engage Paul and other users in debate. It’s meant to be an open forum.

    Keep reading and posting!

    – site manager

  5. Lacey says:

    I love this article. I was raised on junk food and now that I have an 18 month old daughter, I’ve made it my personal mission for her to be healthy. I hate it when people say that junk is cheaper. if you buy in season produce, junk is NOT cheaper. A bad of potato chips is several dollars whereas you can buy a bag of apples, bananas, lettuce, carrots, squash etc. for LESS! You don’t mean cheap, you mean easier because you don’t have to wash/cut/peel a bag of potato chips and you are addicted to the salt. Great Article Paul!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Like Lacey I do not understand where this ‘junk food is cheaper’ idea comes from. A box of KD (which really only feeds 2 people for dinner) is about 1.50 now. For the same price, I can get a tin of tomatoes, and whole wheat pasta that would feed probably 4-6 people. For the cost difference I can throw in some veggies. The prepared frozen foods are always more than they would be if you made them yourself. I just got 6 chicken breasts (skinless and boneless) for 6 dollars.

  7. Nichole Taylor says:

    I agree with Rebecca and Lacey. Junk food is NOT cheaper…especially when you consider the fact that most junk food leaves you hungry and craving more. Also, a bag of apples is comparable in price to a bag or two of chips and I am sure that someone could sit down and eat a whole bag of chips, yet a bag of apples would last for many snacks. I have 5 children and making school lunches used to be so expensive when I bought crappy processed snacks for them. Now, a lunch of fruit, veggies, whole grain bread with tuna and water is much LESS expensive and much MORE healthy. It is really NOT true that healthy food is more expensive, and I am not sure how people can really even put a price on health anyway, especially your children. I do believe that it is the parents who cause their children to be obese, it is a form of child abuse, isn’t it? Parents wouldn’t knowingly give their children poison but most would give their children a piece of junky food, like a fruit roll up, which is just a bunch of chemicals that your child’s body doesn’t even recognize as food. A little prep time and children can have healthy snacks. So what if they whine? YOU are the parent. Anyway….

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