Saturday, March 27, 2010

Childhood Obesity

My mind's been pre-occupied with the notion of childhood obesity lately. The numbers are startling. I think I read somewhere that 1 in 3 children of today will eventually develop diabetes in their lifetime. As a mother, I want to feel like I have control over my son's nutritional profile (at least in his early years) but I can't control what he eats in the care of others or in school (when the time comes).

I know the damage that can be caused by too much restriction but I want to be able to provide him with a well-rounded approach to a healthy lifestyle. Sure, I'm going to have to buckle down and accept that he will eat a happy meal from *shudder* McDonald's at some point or another. He will eat horribly processed foods on occasion. He will have the occasional delicious home-baked cookies or cakes or pies or or or or....That all I have to accept. I cannot expect to provide only the most perfect nutrition for him. However...I don't want him eating over-processed, sugar & salt injected, laboratory-created, vitamin-enriched, food-coloring laden, over-packaged, shipped from across the world diet that is all the rage these days (according to the marketing). I also don't want to delve into the world of those so-called "health" foods, which are basically vitamin-stripped, processed foods with added vitamins and minerals that don't even occur naturally in the food. Fiber in Yogurt??! Now, what is that??!!! Since when did fiber occur naturally in yogurt? Add some muesli to your yogurt and you get the same thing (plus some more protein and iron).

I'm struggling though. I'm struggling because I need to find a way to provide that balance-- a healthy, nutrient-rich diet for my son with the occasional treat or occasional processed food or occasional fast food meal. I know I can't control it all. But I'm worried about the areas that I will have little jurisdiction - namely food in schools or daycare, the media impact on my son, etc.

Michelle Obama is taking this project under her wing ( or and I am thrilled that it's getting addressed with such seriousness. However, the 4 or so huge food corporations that control our diets these days have a lot of money, power, well-paid attorneys, etc. It scares me to think that the majority of the food we eat today is controlled by this type of money-hungry marketing.

I know what I can do to help my own family though. I can make sure my family has access to good preventative medical care. I believe preventative care (dental check-ups, routine physicals, health screenings, etc.) is one of the most important ways to prevent illness/disease as well as save money down the road. Preventative care can help to cut costs to insurance companies, thus reduce premiums, and cut costs to government-provided care. I can also make an effort to cook healthy meals for my family, prepare lunches in advance, teach healthy nutrition to my son, etc. And of course, keep the uber-processed, gm, non-wholesome food out of my house. Of course some ice cream or chips or cookies may slip through the cracks occasionally, and to be fair, that's ok too.

1 comment:

Angel said...

I think the BEST thing to do is just what you're doing. Raising him on healthy nutritious food, basically training his taste buds, and altho, I know PLENTY of people that were raised on a pretty strict diet who went candy/junk food crazy in their teen years when they were able to get it for was a shortlived stage and they went back to the kind of diet they know is best.
I was raised on a midwest/southern diet where healthy was meat-potato-corn and everyone ate the fatty/buttery/sugary food, setting an unhealthy example for me.
Anything I know about nutrition unfortunately didn't come until adulthood!
Sorry that was such a long comment!