We belong to a culture where mothers (and, in fact, everyone) feed their kids lots of nice foods, and lots of it. Modern science has studied this phenomenon and I have to say this: you may be rearing your child in a way where their health suffers to life-threatening levels.
They are the Four P’s of Fat Loss:
Why talk in such extreme and unpleasant language, you ask?
Look at some simple facts:
• 10-15% of kids are fat
• Fat kids suffer from adult type diseases like Type II diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and gallstones.
• 80% of fat adolescents become fat adults, with a severely high risk of getting severe diseases like cancer and heart disease and even premature death. This is scientifically documented.
• Middle class families have fatter kids compared to rich ones, surprisingly.
• Kids of fat parents tend to be fatter.
So, why is this childhood obesity epidemic happening, for the first time in human history?
Obviously, junk food is playing a big part. The Americanisation of our diet is showing up in the increasing sizes of kids clothings. A side effect is the common sight of young boys sprouting big breasts, reflecting female hormone activity (another subject for later). How grotesque and sad!
Kids today are watching TV or playing computer games as a main component of life outside school. Do you know that TV watching has a direct, dose-response relationship to obesity? If a kid watches more TV, there is a greater chance of obesity. Less TV, less obese. In fact, one of the most important things to do as a parent of a fat kid is to limit TV and computer time.
How is watching TV related to getting fat? One, the body stops moving, and the metabolic rate diminishes. You would burn more calories sleeping, for some reason! Second, the brain gets fixated on the constantly engaging device. It stops realising what it is commanding the body to do and what the latter is saying. So, once in ‘’EAT” mode, it doesn’t manage to register feelings of fullness, the thought “I have eaten enough”, or, “I shouldn’t be eating this again”. Consider this through a period of years of this global habit of eating and watching TV, and you have it—a massive weight gain in children across the world that has never before been seen in human history.
In the entire sad story of childhood obesity, it is the same thing every parent seems to be saying to me, “He/she gets very upset if some special food is not made. Every day, we have to order pizza or burger.” Or some variant of this.
Here is the important question: who made your kids eat them in the first place?
Yes, you, the parent, did! No one put a gun on any mother’s head to feed the kid fried chicken and Coke. One could argue that this food is everywhere now and is hard to escape from. One could argue that ads on TV and elsewhere targetted at kids create situations where the kids scream if McDonalds-type of food is not ordered, so what’s the choice for us adults?
I would agree. The subject becomes complex when we realise that many factors play a role in a social phenomenon like obesity. It is not the parent alone, or the kid alone. Even the Government has a role to play. Even your kid’s school has a role to play. Why are we limiting our kids’ play time, and increasing their study time? Why are we not eating more vegetable and fruits? Why do we buy colas and cakes and stock them at home in the first place? Why do we not know breakfast foods outside of corn flakes, bread and biscuits?
This is not a simple matter of kids looking chubby and adorable. This is a serious, defining issue in a kid’s life. His entire future hinges on what you do now. When children get seriously ill or huge, they come to doctors. As a life-saving or life-changing measure, we are forced to consider them for bariatric surgery. This surgery gives them a second chance at life. It makes them leaner and cures their medical problems like diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. However, this is not what we should be doing first. This is a last resort, when we accept that nothing else would work.
So, if we reduce a complex subject of childhood obesity to a few bullet points, here is what we need to learn:
• Children should not be obese. It is a serious, lifetime issue.
• Adult-type diseases occur in fat kids, so wake up and act for your kids!
• Let your children play, and stop them watching TV and PC games so much!
• Stop buying processed foods and stocking them at home (chips, cookies, noodles, etc.).
• If you are fat, your kid is likely to be, too. Lead by example, and get on the job.
• Bariatric surgery is a last resort for severely obese children, and should be considered boldly when necessary.
• If we accept the responsibility for children’s obesity, we would be forcing ourselves to act. So, to repeat myself, take action now!