"We're killing our kids with kindness"

Conservative MP Rob Merrifield was quoted as saying this after the Commons health committee tabled a report stating that today's youth will have a shorter lifespan than their parents thanks to the growing rate of childhood obesity. Reports like this bring rise to comments that we give kids too many electronic toys and don't encourage enough activity that kind of irk me. As I was getting my lazy ass up this morning, I heard about this report on Breakfast Television and Kevin Frankish blamed the nintendos, playstations and Internet on empty baseball fields all over the country...apparently the report places some blame there too. I don't really see THAT as the entire problem. YES, it is important too, but exercise is always the smaller percentage of the factor...diet always comes first. It's our reliance on prepared foods, fast foods, out of control portions sizes and treats that create scary stats like 26 per cent of those between the ages of two to 17 are either overweight or obese. YUP -- OVER ONE QUARTER OF THEM. As a person who was overweight as a child, I can agree and disagree with the MP's statement. I remember having a lot of good food when I was younger but at the same time I wasn't spoiled rotten and we didn't eat out THAT often. I was involved in baseball as a kid but wasn't AS active as my brothers. We didn't have all of the fancy games or the Internet then, yet I was still an unhealthy weight... But I was still someone who could eat unhealthy portions, didn't always eat according to the food guide and it wasn't my parents who were to blame. So it's not always the case that the adults are killing the kids with kindness. It's the kids, when they're allowed to make their own decisions when making food purchases, that aren't armed with the right kind of knowledge to make the right choices. I was the one sneaking chocolate bars after school or eating french fries with gravy for lunch everyday. My parents, and MANY OTHERS, are NOT to blame. It's important for reports like these to come out to highlight that there are longterm effects from obesity such as diabetes, heart attacks, joint problems, etc. but at the same time I wonder what real good comes of it? Everyone just knee-jerk reacts and blames tv and the parents but maybe we shouldn't be so quick to open our mouths to yap but look to see what the little ones are putting in theirs when we're not looking as well.


Christina said...

Marie what a great post, I totally agree with you. I used to sneak food into my room all the time and eat whenever I had the chance....no matter what when someone has food issues, they will find a way to eat whether the parents are aware or not

Jen said...

I agree, this is SUCH a good post!!!

I haven't had TOO many emotional eating issues in the past few years, but as I child, I was HORRIBLE!!! I remember having a garbage pile in my room filled with empty dorito bags (and not even the small ones, sometimes the family bags!!!) and going to buy fudge with my allowance!!! My parents never realized that I was doing this and my mom was always concerned because they fed me relatively healthy foods.

I think it is sad that the parents are getting blamed, I think there is a portion of blame to go to each person involved...it's really scary that this is our future...

Mandy said...

What an excellent point, Marie. However, for some of us, the parents are to blame for the majority of it. I know for me, for my childhood, it was what we ate at home that was the problem. We didn't have tv, or computers or nintendo or anything like that, so we got plenty of activity, however my parents were/are binge eaters and passed that on to us and encouraged it, so in that aspect, my weight loss issue did start with how my parents raised me. I continued it on into adulthood and finally took charge. But it did start with them. But I agree that it shouldn't be automatically blamed on the parents in every situation - it differs from child to child.

NattyMcGoo said...

I heard about the report this morning and it sent chills down my spine. To think our kids may not out live us is almost criminal!

Like I said on my blog, my main purpose for losing weight is to be a healthy example for our daughter. I'm trying to clean up our act (Dh and I) before she starts eating regular food.

I think the food industry is somewhat to blame for introducing foods high in trans fat, out-of-control portion sizes, and for marketing to kids by luring them with toys and other crap. You're right, it's hard for parents to compete with that and try to keep the temptation from our kids.

I don't know what the answer is but I think it's just getting back to basics: A healthy diet with whole foods such as lean protein, fruits/veggies, dairy and whole grains (no packaged, processed foods), sitting down for dinner as a family and exercising together. Set a good example. Sometimes hanging out at the park or building a tree fort can be way more fun then sitting in front of the tube watching reality TV or playing video games.

Thanks for bringing this up! As a parent, it's an issue that's always in the back of my mind.

Antonia Z said...

Great post Girl!

I live a few doors from a middle school, filled with seventh and eighth graders. They keep the corner variety stores in business with their junk food purchases -- candy, chips, evil looking greasy rotis, big honking white bread pizza slices with a smear of tomato sauce etc. Meanwhile their carefully prepared lunches -- baggies of carrot sticks and sandwiches -- get tossed on the street or to the waiting seagulls.
The irony is, it's the ''richer'' kids that can afford to do this. The ''poorer'' ones are on school property, in the cafeteria or in the yard, eating their (often ethnic) lunches and shooting hoops or walking around the track.
Make of this what you will.

Pam, the belly dancing queen said...

Marie normally I agree with you and to some extent I still do with one exception. A child who is overweight ANd under the age of 8 isn't buying their own food OR making food choices for themselves. I think the problem is a symptom of a much bigger problem that you touched on--ready made foods, frozen dinners etc. Having said that, I think to some extent, the parents are to blame for making poor and unhealthy food choices, not only for themselves bu talso for their kids. Let's face it, kids learn from example. I'm a parent, I make the lunches everyday and the only choice my kids get are what they want in their wraps or on their sandwiches.
Sorry for the LOOONG reply, I just get tired of it never being anyone's fault--

Shirls said...

My mum didn't always cook the healthiest things for us, but she certaintly didn't stuff the box of old dutch chips down my throat every day either... sometimes the basic fact is that you and you alone are responsible for yourself.

Tams said...

Great post! I agree as well. There is influence by parents... but kids are going to do what they want. I know I did as a kid. My parents were health freaks. On my lunch hour, I'd go and get seasoned potato wedges from the store next to the school. And even yesterday as I drove past an elementary school, I saw 5 boys (maybe 10 years old) each with a Little Ceasar's Medium pizza in their lap! An entire pizza per boy! That's extreme. Now maybe some of them won't eat all of it... but you know that they would. Particularly if their parents don't know about it. Anyway.. Parents have a big influence on their child's eating habits, but they will make their own decisions as well (once old enough). They just have to be educated enough to make the right decisions I suppose. But I do agree that kids aren't getting the same exercise that they used to.

Anyway I just went on my own rant. Whoops. Have a great day!

Angie All The Way said...

I have to say, I wouldn't necessarily "blame" my parents for it, but it did have a huge part of it. My eating habits originated with them and where I came from as a little kid - booooonieeees - there wasn't a lot of "variety" in our diets and I never once had broccoli or cauliflower on my plate, only high starch vegetables. In fact, most of the foods I eat now are things my parents never even heard of.

A lot of it too comes from education. It wasn't that my parents should feel bad for the eating habits because they honestly didn't know any better. But I am from a generation of education and I DO know better, so there's absolutely no excuse to pass on bad eating habits to my kids.

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