Levine and Stein of the Washington Post pulled no punches on the front page of my local newspaper May 18, the first in a five-part series. The pictures, sidebars, and article took up more than a full news page:
Being overweight at a young age appears to be far more destructive to well-being than adding excess pounds later in life. Virtually every major organ is at risk. The greater damage is probably irreversible.
“Doctors are seeing confirmation of this daily: boys and girls in elementary school suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and painful joint conditions; a soaring incidence of type 2 diabetes, once a rarity in pediatricians’ offices; even a spike in child gallstones, also once a singularly adult affliction. Minority youth are most severely affected, because so many are pushing the scales into the most dangerous territory.
“With one in three children in this country overweight or worse, the future health and productivity of an entire generation–and a nation–could be in jeopardy.”
The article points out that while obesity has doubled with parents and grandparents nowadays, it has TRIPLED in children. These children will be disabled in their most productive years, since almost all obese children become obese adults. Our surgeon general is calling child obesity nothing less than “a national catastrophe.”
Robyn’s comment: our government takes children from families whose homes are filthy, who are accused by someone of physical or emotional abuse of children, or even who refuse to submit their child to chemotherapy because they prefer an alternative. (I’m not condoning government intervention in all of these cases, not by a long shot. You can google “Parker Jensen” and my name, Robyn Openshaw-Pay, to find my writings on that Utah case regarding parents’ choice in mandatory chemotherapy that made international headlines.)
But we turn a blind eye to parents abusing their children by feeding them nothing but processed food, even while the kids are clearly gaining weight and unhealthy. Feeding children daily sodas, hot dogs (“cancer in a bun”), fried fast food, ice cream, and dozens of chemicals and dyes we can’t pronounce, is abuse, even if it has become commonplace and its root is in ignorance or apathy rather than malice. The parents of one of my children’s friends, good and nice people who love their kids, feed their daughter nothing but processed foods and then call her fat (which she is), grabbing her rolls of flab and belittling her. (Both parents are themselves overweight.) I know this only because she cries to my daughter about it, who is appalled and heartbroken for her friend.
Murder I or manslaughter, somebody innocent still dies, right? Intentional abuse or abuse from ignorance/apathy, a child still suffers. This has to stop. If a parent doesn’t care about the physical health effects reviewed in tomorrow’ post, surely he or she cares that the child is tormented by peers and ends up with a self-loathing problem.
You can’t walk up to people and verbally assault their parenting, but you can refer people who genuinely want to learn and change to GreenSmoothieGirl.com or a great book on nutrition. See who you can influence TODAY, because YOU can change this in your sphere of influence. Obese children start in utero, with an overweight pregnant mother who doesn’t know better. These women are the key to our future. I have dedicated GreenSmoothieGirl.com to them and the people willing to influence them. More eye-opening stats from this series by the Washington Post tomorrow.