Cute & Chubby is for Babies Only...
It’s hard to resist the cuteness of a chubby baby. Their cute cheeks are so adorable. Many of us are just born with a little more meat on our bones and had nothing to do with it. Our only responsibility was to relish in all the ’oohs and ahs over being so gosh darn adorable. There is no link between chubby babies being at any higher risk for childhood obesity than any other newborn but in a few short years, childhood weight becomes a heavy predictor of adult health. Those few short months of being adored for having cute chunky thighs are short-lived!
Over 100% Increase in Overweight Children
In the past 30 years, the number of children being diagnosed as overweight has increased over 100%. Doctors have pretty much eliminated using the term “early onset of Type 2 Diabetes” simply with ‘Type 2’ because children as young as eight are now being diagnosed. One study found after a 15-year follow-up of children being diagnosed with Type 2, there is an alarming rate of blindness, amputation, kidney failure and death in young adulthood.
Back to the Future
To stress the importance of focusing on preventing childhood obesity, consider the following facts quoted by Michael Greger, M.D. when reporting about this study:
Being an overweight teen may predict disease risk 55 years later, including twice the risk of dying from heart attack, more cancer, gout and arthritis.
In fact being overweight as a teen “was a more powerful predictor of these risks then being overweight in adulthood.”
Why the Sudden Increase in Childhood Diabetes?
Thirty years may not seem so sudden but relative to a 100%+ increase in diagnosis of any disease within that span of time, that isn’t so long after all. The dramatic rise in childhood diabetes is directly linked to the rise in childhood obesity. The culprits? Fast food, less vegetables and fewer fruits. Fast-paced lifestyles, convenience dining, on-the-go meals… Ultimately, the responsibility is in the hands of the parents and the child to make better choices, which is difficult in our action-packed, gotta-have it now culture.
However, the statistics are compelling, if not downright startling! Once an obese child reaches age six, it’s likely they’ll stay obese their entire life. Even if they don’t, the stress of being overweight while we are young predicts future disease and death regardless of adult body weight. If that doesn’t scare us all to eat and promote healthy eating in our homes, what will it take? The unfortunate truth is writing that sentence is easier than always making the “right” choices. Making better choices more often and having “junk” food be the exception and not the rule seems like a promise we should all be able to keep. Doesn’t it?
The Best Diets for Kids
Experts says a plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes will help keep kids and adults within their ideal weight on the BMI chart. The more vegan and less meat eating diet you can sustain, the higher your chances for a lower BMI become. On average, vegans weigh 30-pounds less than their meat-eating counterparts. If strictly vegan is not for you and your family, remember these alternatives:
Select lean cuts when buying red meat. Trim animal when possible. Rely on spices for flavor rather than the animal fat. (Yes, we know, we’re taking all the fun out of it.)
Try ground turkey in that call for ground beef. Spaghetti, chili, etc. Chances are, your family will never even notice the difference. Mixing ground turkey with your ground beef is another trick to start reducing red meat from your families diet.
Use reduced-fat cheese when baking.
Switch to skim or soy milk. (They may complain at first but they will be okay. In the long run, they will be so much better; this is a change that is worth the grief you may get about it now.)
Stop buying pop/soda. Diet or regular. Doesn’t matter. If you don’t buy it, they won’t have it to drink. This, may make them drink more water, which is a wonderful thing for any body at any age! Don’t you feel good for making your kids healthier already? J
Is fast food your only option? If so, make deals with your kids. “We are going to drive through today but you can have chicken nuggets only if you have apple slices.” Get them in the habit of making the healthiest choices possible when they can by having to make a healthy choice each time. A fried entrée + a fried side = future heart attack. It’s important for kids to understand, without scaring them, that the choices they make now affect their entire lives. Good habits and eating patterns start young.
What about School Lunches
The truth is that it is cheaper to feed your family an unhealthy meal than it is to feed them fresh vegetables, fruits and lean cuts of meats. It is cheaper to be unhealthy than it is to be healthy and that is the crux of many of our health issues today. The reality is that school lunch programs may not all have the best choices but there are options and your child is ready to make the right one, thanks to you. Sending a healthy snack and starting with a healthy breakfast is another sentence easier to write than is it to make happen each day. Promise to try and make your kids part of that promise to keep themselves healthy. Together, is the best way for a family to succeed!