Parents in Georgia are split about the appropriateness of a set of shocking new ads aimed at raising awareness of Georgia’s rising childhood obesity rates. Do you think these ads will do more harm than good? Watch the clip.
Do you think it’s the parent’s “fault” if a child gets this big and do you think they don’t love their kids?
What do you think?
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And I don’t think it’s a question of loving or not loving. It may be any number of reasons. They never had that stuff when they were growing up so…. Or they have other priorities and the kids eat nothing but junk. Or…
This is a tough one. Some people say I am a bit obsessed with family health, so maybe I’m not the best person to talk – or maybe I am. Obviously there is a concerning trend and while I don’t believe these parents don’t love their kids, I think they are a bit naive as to how much they can actually do about the situation – and how much of an issue it is in the long run.
I think some parents think that their kids just have “baby fat” that they will grow out of. That may be true if the kid is under 2, but beyond that, a healthy child is fairly thin. Yes, there is a “range” of healthy, but the kids pictured in that clip are clearly beyond that range.
I think many parents don’t realize that the diet their kids are eating is so much different and more unhealthy than what they ate as kids.
But, the information is out there. Or is it?
Well, not really. A lot of the information that’s out there is unhelpful if your child is heavy or tends to gain weight easily. A person with a weight issue needs to eat differently than a person without one. And that includes kids. And saying that is extremely unpopular. The current “wisdom” is that you only need to tweak a child’s diet a little, or just make him move a little more. But if he’s already eating more than a healthy kid should eat, that’s not helpful. If I’d followed the common “wisdom,” one of my kids would be overweight if not obese. And life would be hard for her in more ways than one. I was strong and stayed the course of managing my toddler’s weight, even though it earned me all kinds of unfair accusations. And my kid is now just healthy – by no means skinny.
So. What I think is that if the government is going to step into this, its role should be more along these lines:
1) Fix school lunches. I find public school menus positively frightening for a child like mine.
2) Offer much more physical activity in connection with school. And make sure kids have safe places to play outdoors after school / during the summer.
3) For older kids (e.g., tweens +), offer programs in school (perhaps internet-based for privacy) to help them take control in a healthy way.
4) Figure out more helpful messages to recommend for doctors to share with parents.
5) Distribute helpful, positive messages via school, internet, and various public / charitable services. I’m talking about, e.g., suggesting a truly healthy menu that is practical for parents and palatable for kids. Along with information on healthy weights for their child’s age/height, and the potential long-term effects of being too heavy after infancy.
It seems obvious that if your kid is 10 lbs overweight, you don’t wait until he’s 20 lbs overweight to start dealing with it – that is a lot harder and more hurtful for the child. If you manage it from an early age, the child needn’t even know. Personally I think it’s worth the extra effort / inconvenience if it means my kid won’t have to deal with a weight problem at the same time as all the other issues they must encounter as they grow. I don’t know what logic parents apply when they determine that their heavy child should be served high-calorie meals and snacks all day long. My petite kid manages to take care of all her business (sports, etc) on a fraction of the calories. But surely the parents have some logic they are applying.
I just have to share this… I haven’t watched the video yet, it’s still loading. And I haven’t read any of the comments yet. But I clicked over to the video site, and there’s a HUGE banner across the top. An advertisement for… McDONALD’S!!! I thought that was such delicious irony…
Ok, I watched the video, and I saw this discussed a little on another site. I have not seen the ad in its entirety, I’d like to. I may seek it out.
I get that there’s a growing problem with childhood obesity. I also get that there’s an overall problem with it. Heck, I’m part of that problem.
And being part of the problem, I can give you a unique perspective on it. I was not fat as a child, but from a very, very young age, I was acutely aware that others thought I was. As I mentioned in another post, my nickname was “butt”, because I developed hips before my friends. In high school, I wore a size 7/9 (which was small/average for my height), and my then-boyfriend offered to get me diet pills from his work, and compared me to movie stars, saying that if I only lost a few, I’d look like them.
Those messages, combined with others from people close to me, as well as media screaming that you have to be thinner-thinner-thinner to be even considered attractive, have driven me FAR in the opposite direction. So far that I struggle daily with it. I’ve been to 12-step meetings because of it.
And now I’m trying not to pass that struggle on to my own child. He is very lucky to be very active, and right at, or even under, ideal weight. He regularly chooses fruit, veggies or yogurt as a snack, although he has a sweet tooth and on weekends, loves his Pop Tarts for breakfast. And he’ll never, ever turn down dinner at McD’s, but actually prefers Subway. He is constantly moving. But I still fear that I will screw him up as bad as I, myself, am screwed up.
So what’s the answer? Certainly not the “guilt-trip” that these ads are trying to put on parents. And they’re deluding themselves if they think that kids won’t internalize the messages from this ad, and personalize it. Those kids are already fat, they know it. Not many of them are proud of it, and even fewer are accepted despite it. I guarantee they hear about it on a daily basis, and now the government is backing up those bullies. This, I fear, is going to make the problem worse – kids will be, if they’re not already, sneaking food, hoarding it, bingeing. Because it’s their solace, as well as their torture. Some of them will hurt themselves over it.
SKL is on the right track. Government needs to clean up their own act before they start bashing at parents. Yes, plenty of parents feed their kids poorly. But many of those parents are sending their kids to school for breakfast and for lunch – where they’re getting “egg mcmuffins” for breakfast and chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and pizza for lunch. And gym classes are cut out, recess is no longer, and kids are forced to sit for most of the day.
They (the gov’t) also need to banish this idea that “it’s cheaper to eat crap than it is to eat healthy food”. I keep trying to make that math work, but find that a bag of chips routinely costs around $3, and will last maybe 2 days, whereas a bag of apples may cost that same $3, but last a week. And fill me up more. And I can make other stuff from it. A meal at Mc’D’s costs what, $5-$6? for that same amount, I can get a pound of ground beef and some produce, make a nice meat loaf dinner. Healthier, and the produce, at least, will cover 2-3 meals.
Physician (or in this case, government), heal thyself. And then come talk to me.
Another thing I forgot to add last night. What about parents who aren’t making sure their kids are where they should be academically? Are we going to start using “dumb kids” videos to shame those parents? What about kids who are too sheltered? Will there be a commercial featuring a kid in bubble wrap? No? Then why do people think this is OK for the obesity problem in particular?
Well, I’ve been thinking of this for a while now. Ever since I wrote it and since I first read about it.
I had one skinny minnie and then one who had weight issues. They ate the same things. One didn’t gain weight and one did. One prays to gain while the other has to work hard to keep the waistline thin. I do know how bad most of the school lunches are and I know how bad fast food is for you but a big part of me knows that some people fight with weight and some don’t. They both ate school lunches and we ate fast food occasionally so I pretty much think you’re either inclined to be heavy or you’re not. Jason ate junk constantly and never gained. Poor Toby ate the same stuff and he gained.
I’m also never a fan of making someone feel bad. I never put Toby on a diet nor did I ridicule him in any way. I don’t feel that ever works and I feel bad for the kids in the commercials. They aren’t like other commercials because they know they’re fat. I find that awful to do to those kids. I wouldn’t have such a problem with these ads if the kids weren’t used. But these are REAL kids with real feelings and this puts such a spotlight on them for being fat. Come on! Shame doesn’t work. If it did, none of us would have any problems.
I can see how it is hard to feed two kids differently when they grow up together. In my case, my skinny kid doesn’t have a big appetite (at least not yet), so I don’t have to ration meals differently for each. And, for now, I have the control over whether we go to fast food and what we eat when we do. I know things will be different when the girls are older and want to go out with peers and eat whatever the group is eating. That’s why I try to do what I can while I can. Seems to me that even if my kid goes crazy and eats all she can for some years (which I did as a teen), at least she’ll be better off than if she started out heavy. I could be wrong, but those are my assumptions.
It does depend on how they are built, like Joy said, some gain and some don’t. My whole life I tried gaining weight, now it’s a battle to keep thin and I can gain 5 lbs in a week if I’m not careful.
I think if a child is this over weight, like in the picture, then something needs to happen because that’s a heart attack waiting to happen. We all could stand to eat healthier, and teach our kids what healthy eating is. But I certainly wouldn’t make the kid feel bad, all it takes is introducing better foods, keeping all their options healthy. Bailey is naturally thin, and probably will have the same problem his dad has; can’t gain weight to save his life! But I still limit the junk food in the house (mainly because I’ll eat it) we push protein big time. And being active!!! TOO MANY kids sit inside playing video games, parents need to kick their kids out the door!
I think in some cases it is the parents fault, but in others it’s their DNA. I don’t think schools should offer pop, ever. I think they should opt for fruit, rather than chips and cookies. I don’t think it’s ever just one person’s fault, and I think a lot of things can change to better our health and it does start early on.
The biggest problem with all of this (aside from the guilt piled on the kids) is that the answer isn’t as simple as we’re lead to believe. What if every kid went on a diet, and half of those kids didn’t lose weight? Then what? Then we’d have to admit that there is a bigger problem – one that encompasses the fact that no two bodies are alike, some people process foods differently than others (I’m learning that I need more protein than most, and try telling that to my always-skinny dad, who swears by cereal every morning!). There is no magic bullet for any of this, and that’s what people want – a magic bullet.
If you want to quit smoking, it’s easy. There’s even a patch for that. If you want to quit drinking, it’s easy. (“easy” of course, being a relative term. It’s wicked hard, I get that) But try to quit eating. Where does that get you? You *can’t* quit eating. You’ll die. And the magic bullet that everyone wants is that people will just “quit eating” and suddenly everything will be sunshine and roses. And nobody wants to face the truth – that many of these children are already addicted – to the sugar/HFCS that is in the food, to the emotional balm, to the high that they get while they are eating. THAT’S what’s not being addressed, and in fact, what is being fed by creating these ads, and by continuing the hostile environment that fat people must endure.
I read somewhere that you only add fat cells during two periods in life: birth to age 2 and during puberty/adolescence (rapid growth). And once you add fat cells, they don’t go away (absent liposuction); you simply decide to starve them or feed them. And starving them is uncomfortable. Hence, a heavy toddler is likely to remain overweight at least until her next big growth spurt. This is the main reason I ignored the advice to let my tot eat whatever she wanted until she was older.
I do agree that the consequences of “unhealthy” eating vary from individual to individual. But, we cater to individual differences in other respects. If a child is falling well outside the norm in a particular area, we seek therapy, tutoring, or perhaps enrichment activities. A child with food allergies is fed a unique diet. If a child is dangerously underweight or unable to hold food down, we take him to the doctor and consider various interventions. They have “pediasure” and so on for kids who are on the undernourished side of the spectrum, but no comparable product for kids who need to lose a few. Given what we know and the trends we see, I wonder why we usually see obesity as deserving no or very little interventon. And nowadays, parents are scared out of intervening lest their kid develop an eating disorder.
This one is really, really difficult. First of all I don’t feel that shame EVER works. Secondly, I think it’s just oh so wrong on sooo many levels to hold obese kids (or adults) up for ridicule and use them as an example of what NOT to be. What next, a commercial that holds very thin kids up as an example of not enough food? Is it any wonder that bulimia and anorexia are the huge problem they are right now?
As parents we can steer our kids in the right direction as far as eating goes. Instead of milk and cookies as a treat we can give them fruits or veggies. Most kids like either or both, and they’re a lot less costly than snack bars and such. Treats don’t have to be sugar based or salty to be a treat. The problem is that most adults like to keep salty snacks and sweets on hand for when the desire for them kicks in. Sooooo, is it really a surprise that kids grab that stuff when they’re at home or with friends? I think not!
That said, throughout my life I’ve had my thyroid function kick in and kick out. I don’t change my eating patterns or exercise any more/less, it just happens with my body. To the point that I’ve been known to keep a few clothes in a variety of sizes. Right now I’m in a thinner period. I weigh less than I did in high school. I’ve never been in the single digit clothes, but trust me, I’ve never been a size 10 before either. Most of the time I hover around 14/16. I’ve also been as high as 18/20. It is what it is. When the weight increases it’s not because I’m eating more junk food, etc. or because I’m less active. And in fact dieting doesn’t really help when it’s a slow function time, I just try to eat healthier with very little success. It is what it is. I’ve come to accept it.
My family consists of some very heavy people, both past and present. Also some very thin people. Why? Everyone’s body metabolizes food at a different rate. If a family sits down to dinner and eats the same food, why is one thin, one heavy, and one within the “normal” range? I don’t know the answer.
Working in a grocery store I see a trend for packaged lunches/dinners aimed specifically at kids. The sodium in each one of these is astronomical! It’s also average for these quickies to have over 300 calories (some well over). These are what kids are now eating when they get home from school to “tide them over” until dinner time when they eat a full dinner. Why? because they can pop them into the microwave or pull them right out of the fridge. Sadly, this is becoming the norm in a lot of families. Or they’re so on the go that fast food becomes dinner. Sorry, I just completely disagree with this trend. If the adults don’t buy it, the kids won’t be eating it. So that responsibility is on the parents. The kids that tend toward being heavier should be encouraged to “go outside and play” like most of us did. I also think it would be a good idea for families to take walks after dinner or go hiking on weekends. Both good activities for family time. Sometimes all that’s needed could be for the parents to get up off of “that thang” and go with the kids to get them interested.
I guess the bottom line is I heartily disagree with these ads and find them offensive. I think the caption that stated “because their parents don’t love them” should be eliminated!
But, yes, people need to become more aware of proper nutrition/exercise, but I don’t feel this is the way to do it.
I think by now, people all over the world know how unhealthy junk food, soda’s etc. is. But it is still given n a regular base to kids anyway. The school lunches are still very unhealthy. I feel sorry for the parents who know perfectly well they are given their kids poor food but cannot change their pattern. Advertisement like this will not help. Many parents will excuse themselves by saying: Oh, my child isn’t even that obese. I do not have a solution for helping those parents out, but that they need guidance in this, is pretty clear.