Saturday, April 21, 2012

Childhood Obesity: Why Are Kids Getting So Fat?

When I first saw this picture it struck me as a joke, but the more I thought about it the less funny it got.  The kid on the right isn't just a caricature, I see kids like this all the time.  Why?  How did it get this way?  What are we doing about it?

I think the first issue is that most kids don't do ANYTHING.  Why would you want to go outside and play something like football when you can play the video version of it sitting in your room eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew?  After all, you can be a superstar and not even need to have the slightest bit of physical ability. Not to sound like one of those old guys that say "Back in my day", but back when I was a kid you were expected to be outside playing until it was time to come in for dinner.  I don't think my mom was thinking about mt physical fitness, she just wanted me out of the house and away from her.  Regardless of the logic behind it, it worked.  Even the kid that was our "fat" friend wasn't fat by today's standards.  It is said that kids get about 30 hours a week spent either playing video games, watching TV, on the internet, or some other form of electronic media.  That's almost a full time job.  This is leading to an increase in Nature Deficit Disorder , which is a real thing and not something I made up.  Now, all we need is to get Erwan Le Corre to develop school Phys. Ed. programs and maybe we can eliminate this.

Now lets look at what we feed kids.  Our government programs stress a diet heavy in "healthy" whole grains, low-fat dairy, and plenty of other crap that serves no purpose other than to make people fat and dependent on the medical "professionals".  I'm not sure, but I think most of the "professionals" are the same ones helping to form those government policies, but that is another issue.  I saw a sample menu that the government recommends.  For breakfast is a bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk and a slice of toast with margarine.  I don't think anyone in the Paleo/Primal community needs to be told what's wrong with that.  In fact, the biggest problem would be the arguing what is worse, the grain filled cereal or the rancid PUFA filled margarine.  If you don't know why those are bad, you can learn about it here and here.  So even when people try to feed their kids what they think is healthy, it is just helping to make them fatter and sicker.  The fact is though, a lot of parents aren't trying all that hard to make sure kids are getting the most nutritious foods.  Walk around any grocery store and take a look at what is in people's carts and see what they are feeding their kids.  To drink we have sodas and sugary fake juices and cool-aid.  For breakfast we have pop tarts, donuts, and frozen waffles.  To go on top of the frozen waffles is margarine and what they call syrup, but is nothing more than high fructose corn syrup with artificial maple flavoring.  What is that maple flavoring made out of, I wonder?  Continuing on with the rest of the menu we have an assortment of hot pockets, macaroni and cheese, and frozen pizza.

And lets not even get started on school lunches.  It would take too long to cover it all, and I'm not a skilled enough writer to do it justice.  Here we are using tax money to feed kids the worst assortment of fake foods that are based on horribly flawed nutrition guidelines.  The real shame of it is that most of the kids getting school lunches on the free lunch program are the kids that aren't getting much in the way of nutrition anywhere else.  This could be a way to see to it they get one or two good meals a day in at school, and maybe even show them what a nutritious meal looks like and they could take that bit of information home with them.

I personally pack my daughter's lunch, and I'm always wondering if and when we will get the letter sent home or the call from the school concerned about the nutritional value of her lunch.  "It's just meat, vegetables, and fruit.  Don't you think that's to much meat and fat?  Where are the whole grains?"  If it happens I hope they are ready for all hell to be unleashed.  I will walk in the office with every scrape of documentation from every study explaining why what they think is total bull shit and politely invite them to kiss my ass.

The last part of the problem is many parents are waiting for someone else to step in and be the parent.  "The schools have cut P.E. so what am I supposed to do?"  What you are supposed to do is be a parent.  It is your responsibility to see that your kids are getting what they need.  YOU make sure they go outside and play.  YOU make sure they don't spend unending hours in front of the TV or attached to a video game controller.  YOU feed them healthy food.  And maybe most important is YOU lead by example, and show them what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Well said! The situation isn't any better in Canada, for kids or adults.

    Your point about leading by example is spot on. Health (like most things) can't be learned through a "do as I say, not as I do" approach.

    1. Thanks Patrick. I'll be looking forward to your follow-up post over at The Primal Mind. :)