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Children Obesity…Who’s to Blame?

I don’t have children.  I’m not sure when I will have children, but I do know that when I do, health, both mental and physical, will be an important part of my raising them and teaching them about life.

This morning, I had an interesting dialogue with my family about legal action and laws around childhood obesity.  Across the US, there are numerous strategies being implemented or being considered to address childhood obesity head-on.  Some programs take a preventative approach by offering healthy options in the school cafeteria, while others take a more aggressive approach by disceminating BMI (Body Mass Index) Report Cards to parents when their children have either too low or too high of a BMI score; and others, take an even more drastic approach of accusing parents of child abuse and neglect.

I have to wonder, what approach is most effective?  Do we wake up parents to the urgency of the situation by placing the blame on them?  Do we humiliate children to get them to understand that they are at risk for being overweight as adults?  Do we risk causing eating disorders and lifelong self-esteem issues among children and teens by negatively exposing them and their problem?  Or do we hope with all of our might that the cafeteria’s lunch offerings will be enough for them to learn?  There isn’t really a perfect answer, as every individual responds to things differently, and children, even more so.  So what do we do?  How do we attack an increasing epidemic?

For the most part, I believe that parents are most responsible for their children’s health.  Assuming a parent is an active participant in their child’s life, it is safe to say that from the time a child is born up until the time they go to school, parents are the most influential in teaching them right from wrong, good from bad, healthy from unhealthy.  If a solid foundation is laid, there is a good chance that children will make the right decisions when they leave the nest.  That said, if a child doesn’t get that education at home, I do believe that parents need to be counseled, warned and maybe even fined if a child has an ongoing problem.  They are their caretakers and guardians, and they need to be held responsible.

But how can you hold someone responsible, when they don’t even understand the problem themselves?

First off, with 66% of American adults overweight or obese, there is a good chance that many obese children have parents who are overweight as well.  Secondly, many parents have a truly distorted view of their child’s weight problems.  In a survey conducted in 2007 exclusively by Knowledge Networks, Inc, for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, it was shown that only 13% of parents with obese children ages 6 to 11 rated their child as being “very overweight” while over 40% of the parents rated their children’s weight status as “about right.”  40%! Parents of older children (12 – 17), however, seemed to have greater awareness with 31% of parents of obese children saying their children are “very overweight,” 56% saying “slightly overweight” and 11% saying “about the right weight.”

Parents have to take action and responsibility early on, not just for their children, but for themselves as well.  If they can’t lead by example, then children are only going to perpetuate their parents’ unhealthy habits.  Further, parents need to face the reality of the situation, and admit that their children may have a problem and may be at high risk for early onset medical issues, such as asthma and heart disease.  More and more children, as well as adults, are becoming less and less active.  We can thank media, video games and the internet for that.   Children have enough growing pains as it is, it isn’t right for parents to subject them to ridicule, possible physical health issues and even worse, mental health issues.  Children need role models…and yes, that in my mind, starts with the parents.

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Family Health, Nutrition Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • TD

    The parents are to blame, it’ s there responsibility to feed the child healthy and nutritious foods and to encourage eating habits that are conducive to good health. Both of my parents worked full-time and my sister and I always ate home cooked meals. On Friday’s our father would usually bring home a pizza or cheese steaks. We didn’t keep soda’s, cookies, chips, etc, in the house those foods were only purchased for holiday cook outs and special occasions. Eating healthy isn’t that hard it just takes more effort. Let’s face it American’s are getting lazier and lazier with every generation.

  • DT

    Parents fault? I think for most of the population it is. They don’t pay attention to the stuff that goes into the foods they eat and pass this on to their children. For the people that do pay attention to what their families consume, put more of the blame on the industrial’s greed for money.
    In this country, most food items you see are made with stuff made from a chemical lab. Of course, you can find some healthy choices, but at a much higher price. Oh, be aware, even if the items are in the health food section, it doesn’t mean they are naturally made.
    It’s bad in this country, but some parts of the world, it’s worse. You can’t even find juice or milk with added water and SUGAR.
    Parents fault? For those that don’t care, it can be said it’s themselves. For those who care, how can we find food that is healthy that doesn’t cost twice as much?

  • Habanero

    ABSOLUTELY the parents. This past summer I saw a 9 year old boy strapped into an oversize stroller. He had to have weighed 200 lbs. He got up out of the stroller just to buy more food. He was being pushed around by his mother and grandmother and everyone was disgusted by those abusive women. Until that kids gets out of the clutches of those two women, he won’t have a prayer. Obesity in children seems to be accepted these days. I call it abuse.

  • Lola

    To comment on Habanero, why would a nine year old boy be in an oversized stroller? He is nine years old and should be able to walk on his own. I don’t know if his mother and grandmother don’t want him to walk or what. I still don’t know why they would allow the boy to ride in a stroller.

  • mitchell

    Parents need to teach their kids about staying healthy and to exercise. We can not blame mcdonalds and other things like that for obesity. Eating fast food is unheathly but its up to the parents and children themselves to eat healthy and exercise.

  • Mary Ann

    It truly BEGINS with the parents! And then of course add in video games, break down of the family unit, kids being alone after school alot with or without babysitters, parents in a hurry or don’t feel like making meals, fast-food is there why not? As a parent who had the tendencies to gain weight, I KNEW I would not repeat what my mother and family (Italian) did about food in our family because I knew the genetics were there also for my kids to have a weight problem if not properly brought up. Today, as adults I can truly be proud my children turned out as they did…I was very conscientious on what they ate and how much. Any parent who allow their child to EAT whatever and whenever they want and then to continue with it when the weight gain is coming on, need to be brought up on abuse charges because it is ABUSE, obviously not intentional but why on earth would you want your child to go through the problems of all the extra weight at an early age????

  • Corneila Manno

    I do believe it is the parents responsibility to take care of there child, by feeding them right. I have seen parents buy there kids nothing but junk food and candy instead of healthy snacks and fruits. I have seen 12 month old babies wwho where very big for there size. there is a person that us to live next door to me and my family and they had a two year old who weight almost a hundred pound, and all I say him eat was junk food,candy hamburgers, hotdogs etc…. My daughter is 14 months old and she looks great for her ages. She loves to eat her fruits etc… and i do hope that she contiues to eat healthly as she grows ups. THE PARENTS ARE THE ONES THAT SHOULD BE A SHAMED OF WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THER CHILD’S HEALTH. THESE KIDS GET PICK ON AT SCHOOL WHEN THEY WALK DOWN THE STREET AND THAT KILLS THERE SELF OF STEAM.

  • To comment on Lola, who knows why a nine year old would be strapped to a stroller, no shit he should be able to walk on his own the parents are horrible just like Habanero said. The real problem are illiterates like Lola who attempt to argue with people by making the same point…

  • Mary

    I blame the parents for not teaching their children moderation. When i was growing up, my mom always had cookies, soda, etc in the house. She felt that children deserve to have treats. Yet I never was fat, in fact, there were times people thought I was skinny! The trick was, I learned to eat the treats in moderation. One or two cookies for the day. And I was happy. I also got out of the house, played and got exercise. Today I see empty back yards and the kids are usually in the house playing video games.

  • Lisa

    The parents for sure! Yes our society makes it “easier” to eat unhealthy foods, for example, drive thrus that are open 24hrs a day. But, I have to say I got treats as a kid but, my mom and dad cooked at home. We didn’t get to go out to eat everyday, like some families do now days. They encouraged my sister and I to go outside and play. We weren’t planted in front of the TV or computer. I think it is parents not taking the time to help their kids avoid the junk and not encouraging them to be active, rather than in their room quietly playing on the computer, watching TV or playing a video game!

  • Dalila Valentine

    I think it is a tough call. Parents can certainly keep junk food out of the house and prepare healthy meals. It was easier when I was growing up because most mothers (and yes, cooking was primarily done by women) whether they were rich or poor, cooked because they thought they were supposed to, and half of them were lousy cooks, so the children were skinny. And they limited snacks because they thought “indulging” children was a bad thing. Not really because of weight or nutrition. I was the heaviest of my peer group (at 12 I was 5 foot 3 and weighted 140 EXACTLY the size I am now at 58 and everyone says I’m slim!!!) although nowhere near obese. The big problem in my house was my mother (who was borderline obese) was a marvellous cook (although there was never any junk food in the house) and I ate as much as she did at dinner because I thought that was how to be “grown up”. Most of my peers who were so skinny came from families where there were several children and the children didn’t eat with the parents so they didn’t notice if they got smaller portions. And the food was dreadful (think underseasoned tv dinners!!)

  • rebecca

    The parents becuse they have tought their kids how to eat and whats okay to eat.but, in society the restrarunts also serve much bigger portions now days why they do that they want more for their bucks.
    we need to teach kids whats healthier in the stores.
    processed to healthy cooked foods that have less calories in the food thats being made.

  • Katie

    I’ll joing the resounding chorus that yes, it is the parents fault. At the same time, there is definitely a lack of education, and for some of these parents, they don’t know how to be healthy. They think eating a grilled chicken sandwich at Carl’s Jr. is healthy. I think there should be government incentives for parents to take a parenting/nutrition class within the first 3 years of having a kid. That way they can be sure to get the correct information regarding health so they have no excuse for obese kids. Eating healthy sounds like common sense to most of us, but believe it or not, many people have NO IDEA, until they are educated, about what is healthy and what is not.

  • Patricia

    This article is dumb,it is a very narrow minded point of view.There are many factor involved in a person being overwieght. Blaming parents is wrong. What about the fact that junk food is served at school from kindergarden through highschool. What about genetics.

  • Heather

    Play the blame game and you miss the problem. Not every problem has an easy scapegoat. There is lots of blame to go around!

    What I think would help is if schools would teach basic nutrition and physical education to kids. Our schools are stripped down to the bare – offering a healthy lunch in the cafeteria is great, but teaching a kid what is/isn’t healthy and why will go a lot further! I am an adult who is overweight and am just starting to understand nutrition – and I am learning because I want to be able to make the best choices for my health and for my kids. I want to reverse what I was taught!

    Many overweight people simply don’t know how to eat nutritionally. Sure, you can cut out the fast food, but its just as bad to eat an omelette sometimes as a fast food burger. You have to understand what food does to understand how to use it as a tool. If kids understood the choices they were making, at least they would be better prepared.

    Top that off, parents must see to it that their kids are physically active and see physical activity as an enjoyable and rewarding time.

  • christine

    i do not feel the blame should be completely on the parents. with fast food commercials showing which toy your child can get, etc, it’s a no wonder children or overweight. i grew up extremely overweight and 100% blame my mom. what makes me say i shouldn’t be the blame? my mom was not overweight. she knew how to watch her weight but when it came to me she just didn’t care. i am SO concerned about my daughter’s weight. she is chubby. i refuse to let her get to where i am today. i know i need to limit her food intake etc, but she is ALWAYS complaining that she is hungry! another thing i need is to get educated. with having children in general, we are not given classes or tests on parenting. it’s like trial and error and just keep your fingers crossed that your child grows up ok. i really feel parents should have to take classes before they are able to have children, plain and simple.

  • AQ

    I agree with Patricia. I’m a parent of 4, my oldest-now 9 was completely breasfeed, I made all her baby food, from organic produce, did not indroduce fruits until all vegtables introduced-she ate all of it. First sugar wasn’t until 18 mo, ice cream her grandfather gave her. I cook balanced meals, control portions etc. She is the only one with a weight issue, her problems didn’t arrise until she went to school.

    I don’t have control of the snacks served, etc. I have even asked the after school program to limit my kids to seconds to insure they eat dinner. Through all this, she is overweight. She is more active than my others by a long shot-plays hard all day long. Yes, parents are to set an example but don’t put it all on parents, their is genetics, personal choices by the child, and I’m sorry but the school lunches are not well-balanced.

    She talks about making right eating choices, conversations sparked by her, she’s 9 and considers herself fat. I’m consentaly reassuring her she is healthy, and is making the right choices. Her body is just different.

  • Greg

    This is a non-issue, who can seriously argue, with any integrity, that parents arent 100% culpable. Stop shirking responsibility by blaming genetics, or society or who ever else you scape goat. When you are a teenager, that blame starts to be shared by you, when an adult…all you! You dont like that your fat…do somthing about it! See a dr., be disciplined, if your not now, learn to be! A recent study showed that weight loss is most effective when you eat less calories than you use. Parenting isnt trial and error. These are your kids, what worked for you..probably will work for them..ever heard oh my god ive turned into my mother/father. Hoping and praying and just wishing with all your heart that they grow up ok is insane and a recipe for disaster. You have to implement controls and teach standards. Oh course she whines about taught her that if she does, you cave in and feed her more. First step probably is lose weight yourself. How can you expect your children to have discipline if you dont have any? Uncross your fingers, and get to work.

  • Greg

    One more point..sorry I packed a lunch when i was in school..problem fixed. Schools should be teaching nutrition..but they you do it. Genetics make it harder, not impossible, to lose weight. Most importantly though, who cares if they are big..not obese or unhealthy fat…just big. So what that your kid or you, isnt modelesque! The focus should be on health, and teaching them to love themselves. If they are happy and healthy, job well done!

  • Natalya

    Not always parents, If a child has health issues then no matter how healthy they eat they will still be over weight. Hormonal imbalances can cause people to be over weight. Before going on a diet a person has to find the reason of obesity in himself.
    I come from a family of 10 children there was always snacks in our house. chips, icecream, candy, donuts, you name it. No one was ever fat from our family.In fact we faced issues with our pediatrucien that we were all too thin. Same with a friend of mine. Her mother stuffed her so much that she thought that if she takes the last bite she’ll puke, but still she and her sisters are skeletal. Parents. help your children find the culprit of their obesity, it doen’t always have to be from unhealthy eating choices

  • Brianna

    Personally i blame my mother. as a child she overfed me. i remember i use to tell her i was full. but she would insist i eat more. she would get mad if i did not finish my plate. an hour later she would insist i eat some other snack.i was also emotionally and physically abused. as a teen i had a eating disorder. self esteem problems etc. as an adult i yo yo diet too much. seriously there are times when i have a very nice body in which u can even see my abs and times when im a few pounds short of being labeled obese.

  • Lily

    Perhaps it’s not always parents, but it starts with parents. If you take the responsibility to have a child, then you must take the responsibility to teach them about health and nutrition, among a hundred other things. Problem is, we’re not all perfect people, and just as some parents don’t teach kids about self-confidence, others don’t teach about health and nutrition.
    I think the solution would be more outside help.
    I live in Germany at the time, and when I had my baby last year, the federal commission for family welfare began sending monthly letters, usually 4 pages long.
    Nothing dogmatic, just simple uncontroversial stuff. Nothing thing on how to rear your child, just ínfo on how to understand him/her. It includes info on the latest findings, when your child should start eating solids, what kinds of solids, and to make sure he/she has lots of supervised play time. These letters continue quarterly until the child turns 12.
    It’s just a starting point, an initial guidance, but it’s been very, very helpful. I’d like to try an initiate something like that in the US. Would anyone like to help?

  • Sally

    From the time my daughter started fast-fooding my grand-daughter, before she was 3 years old, family members begged her not to as my grand-daughter was already over weight. All we ever heard was “The doctor says shes fine, it’s only baby-fat, she’ll out grow it”. She is now 14, morbidly obese, very beautiful,and finally my daughter realizes it too late saying it is my grand-daughter’s fault, she won’t stop eating etc….
    This is the mother’s fault.

  • Sally

    This is now causing my grand-daughter to have medical problems with her ankels as there is too much weight on them, etc… and she has been in a leg brace or cast for this problem!
    My parents controled the amount of sweets coming into their home. Soda and candy were reserved for Xmas,Easter,Halloween etc…
    We were allowed a few cookies or a small snack when we came home from school, with a glass of milk, but not after 4P.M.. This way it did not interfer with the “structured dinner hour”
    We also went outside and PLAYED or did our HOMEWORK! I’m sure if there were cell phones and computers then they would either be monitored or locked away if we ABUSED them!
    As my father would say quote “go outside and blow the stink off of you”
    Too many parents never cook dinner because they are either too tired or too lazy! BOTH MY PARENTS cooked and I am sure they were both just as tired, after coming home from work,as parents now days.
    I know,

  • Jenna

    I personally have a problem with everyone wanting to assume that a parent is at fault. I have 4 children, all special needs. Two of them require medication that quells their appetite and I struggle every day to get them to eat. The other 2 require medication that leaves them hungry and craving food all day long. Although, I limit their calorie intake at home when they are at school or any other function for that matter they are constantly being given candy and snacks. The two that struggle with their weight are the most energetic and active kids I know. They play outside from the time they get home until dinner and then go back out on most days. They play organized sports and never drink sodas or pig out on junk food, yet they are still over weight. There are so many contributing factors the problems we face today. The chemicals in the food and the toxins in the air are causing asthma cases to rise to astronomical numbers. These children require medication to keep their lungs healthy but this same medication messes with their body regulations. It leaves them unable at times to sense when they are full and only leaves them craving more food. In addition, there are more and more children being put on medication for things like ADHD, Bi Polar disorder and Autism. Drugs that were never made for a child’s growing body are being prescribed every day. These drugs to terrible things to the body’s self regulation sensors, but for many there is no other choice if they want their child to function in society at all. The problem is a multi layer problem that can be traced back several generations, whether it is the parents that have a genetic disposition for obesity or the toxins we were exposed to causing our young to have more and more physical and mental health issues or even the lack of nutrition once they leave the house. I am sure for some it is a matter of just not eating right and exercising, but I believe for most it is a struggle that no matter what we do to battle our child’s obesity issues nothing seems to work. I have doctors telling me to feed one child ice cream and butter everything so they will gain some weight and the same doctor telling me to feed another nothing but celery for snack and low calorie meals that would send most kids running. These two children are twins, so how would you like to explain to these kids how this is fair!! Don’t be so quick to judge until you have looked from inside a persons window instead of standing outside and looking in.

  • Amanda

    I think most of the time it is the parents fault. I had researched everything there is to know about nutriton and it didn’t cost me a thing. When i have childeren i will take more effort to eat healthy as a family. Of course i will eat fast food, but it will be limited. Kids should have excersize too, it doesn’t matter what kind of activity as long as they are moving. Also doing family activities together also help.

  • jennasue

    Parents are 100% to blame. Take notice that the majority of those who say it isn’t the parents fault are probably obese parents or a parent of an obese child. I grew up in a home with obese parents who fed us junk food and soda all of the time. I was an active child and was able to stay healthy and was not overweight. Unfortunately my sister was not, and she ended up obese. When she was 12 years old she was diagnosed with pseudo tumor, caused by her excessive weight putting pressure on her optical nerve. It was swollen to the point where her eye doctor believed it was a real tumor. This should have been an eye opening experience for her and my parents but it was not. She is an adult now and still does not live a healthy lifestyle.
    Now that I am a parent myself, I know how it may be easier to stop at the drive thru but the fact is that shopping at the grocery store and cooking the food at home is MUCH cheaper than the fast food restaurants. Skipping the soda, and the cookies is the best thing that I have done for my son. He has learned that drinking water and milk is good for him, we DO NOT give him soda or sugary juices. I have acutally gotten into fights with my parents over them alllowing my son to have soda.
    There is an increasing number of children with Type 2 Diabetes due to childhood obesity. I believe it is a form of abuse and things will only get worse if parents are not held accountable.

  • Stephanie

    I am an overweight mom who has 3 children, and I will be one the ones to say I think it is mostly the parents fault. However, there are situations and medications where there is nothing a parent can do but choose the right foods and the right amounts for their child and teach them the same and hope thats what they do when the parents aren’t around. Children have different body types just like adults and some are going to look fatter or skinnier because of their bone structure. My children one is skinny and short the other is tall for his age but stockier, however, he is not obese. I know that with my children it will be a fine line for the stockier one or he will wind up obese. The shorter skinny one, if he don’t get taller he will be obese. But I cannot change their body types or the health problems that keep the other one short. So what do I do? Try very hard to feed them healthy and keep an eye on their weight. I do think it is up to the parent to know what their child is eating at school, how many have ate lunch with their child?

  • sharice

    While everyone is blaming the parents, it seems like we’ve forgotten the children and teenagers’ are disturbingly LAZY instead of playing sports outside the play madden or watch tv with friends instead of being active. After the age of like 10 a kid is old enough to decide wether to eat the twinkie or an apple. By the way even if there is no junk food in the house a kid can get junk food easily from a variety of places.
    To be honest all my life I’ve eaten junk food lots of junk food and can’t remember the last time i ate a vegetable unless you include ketchup. I’ve also played sports my entire life and I’ve never been over weight in fact I’m quite thin and am very healthy. My sister however eats more healthy food than I do she could probably stand to lose a few pounds. She never played sports and ate bigger portions than I did.
    Anyway the biggest cause for obesity is lack of exercise and lack of portion control because if you exercise than wether you eat 2000 calories from junk food or 2000 calories from healthy food you won’t get fat. Likewise eating healthy food is fine but if you eat 3000 calories worth you are going to gain weight and end up obese.

  • Melissa

    While I realize child obesity is a serious problem, I’m concerned about legal ramifications for parents. Why stop with obesity then? Should parents be charged with negligence if their children are caught smoking, drinking, doing drugs, skipping school, etc., etc. Where does it end? This is particularly disturbing to me because my 10-year-old daughter is heavy, as I was at her age 25 years ago. We do not have video games in our home, she eats five servings of fruit and veggies each day, and she is active in softball and other sports. My hope is that she will eventually grow out of her weight problem when she hits puberty, as I did. Does all this make me an uncaring parent who should be charged with negligence? Ridiculous. This idea of having some sort of “fat police” just fits in with this growing tendency toward overregulation, which I find troubling. Not everyone will have a perfect body. That’s just the way it is. As long as you eat moderate portions of healthy foods and stay active, you’re doing the right thing.

  • mama

    I have 3 children ranging in age 12-4 and yes I do beleive your childrens’ health is the responsiblity of the parent. However, “junk” food or fast food is the cheapest. My husband and I cook all our meals and our children rarely get fast food. But this year our household income decreased to one income. And we noticed that it was harder to feed our children the normal meals on a limited budget. So I wouldn’t be so hard on other parents, no parent wants to harm their child. We do what we can, finding the balance is hard. Mostly children can eat what they want but the real key is excerise, so if you can’t have a perfectly balanced meal MAKE THEM EXCERISE!!!!

  • Beth

    I am a parent of three skinny children, and I really don’t think that I am doing anything different from parents who have overweight children. I try to give them a healthy diet, but sometimes we eat out, and sometimes we eat high fat food. I buy full-fat ice cream and I let my kids eat as much for desert as they want. It is easy to blame the parents of overweight children for their kid’s weight, but there are plenty of parents who don’t monitor their kid’s diet and still have thin kids. Maybe it is their metabolism. Maybe they get more exercise. Labeling parents of overweight children “abusive” is overly harsh. If we want to find a national cure for a situation that we recognize as a harmful national trend, we can’t really consider “blaming bad parents” to be a solution.

  • Bella

    I beleive that in most cases, it is NOT the parents fault. Society is way too judgemental. I have 4 children and one who has a weight issue. Both parents are slim and healthy. All of our children are fed the same types of foods, (home-cooked meals) and cold lunches for school. (our daughter had stomach problems which went medically undetected for months, which led to about a 15 pound weight gain, which finally ended with surgery.) But I beleive that society is to blame for her continued weight gain of 10 more pounds because of the comments she was hearing daily. She became withdrawn and depressed. I even had parents comment on her weight gain. “Like wow, what happened to her, and wow she gained a lot of weight”. If parents can’t control their comments, how can their children learn to curve their tongues? I believe too many judgemental, uneducated points of views can lead an overweight person into low self esteem which can lead to eating disorders. It is NOT the parents causing this…it is society… from children at school to uneducated peoples comments. Too many people focus on superficial things instead of teaching their children values. I blame PARENTS for that. There are many different reasons a child/person has weight issues. Stop being so judgemental and try helping out an overweight person by treating them no differently than others. Read Jenna’s comments from April 29, 2009. She has twins that are opposite in weight…nothing the parents are doing can change that…that is just the way God made them.

  • goldilaux

    Children will eat what their parents do. If mom & dad are eating high fat snacks, picking up fast food for dinner five times a week, and super-sizing to boot, then hey – guess what – so will the kids. If you consider THAT genetics, well then, YES, genetics play a part in childhood obesity.

    I may not be able to control what my boys put in their mouths when they’re away from me (be it cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream or gum they found under the table), but I am able to still control what they have at home.

    I concentrate on what I CAN help them with, and encourage them to make good choices on their own. Because someday, they will be.

  • db

    The parents first and then depending upon the child’s age they too have to take some responsibility. You can’t watch them 24/7 and if the parents aren’t teaching them the school are so there is no excuse. The simple fact is it is not a matter of money it’s parents being lazy. It’s easy to stop for fast food and sometimes it’s cheap but home cooked meals can be cheap and healthy. My mom did it with 4 kids and we had little money. I’m tired of everyone finding it’s someone else’s fault rather than take responsibility for themselves and their behavior. The want the government to take care of them and take the blame for allowing business to succeed. Grow up and take responsibility for yourself and your family. If you decide to have kids it’s you job to raise them, feed them, teach them etc. not the government’s job.

  • Sara

    It is the parents fault! You have kids then they are YOUR responsibility. If they are eating crap at school then feed them stuff from home. The way we live our lives gets past down to our kids. We work 8 sometime 10 hour shifts and when we get home, the last thing we are thinking of is preparing a healthy Tofu diner with steamed veggies. We opt for the easy kill which is fast food. Take their x-box’s away and make them take 30 minutes of working out. Make them do homework then kick them out of the house until it starts to get dark outside then let them come in and wash up and go to bed. I think they use to call that being a kid. There may or may not be a game of hide and seek too but I forget… Oh and fat unhealthy adults usually have fat unhealthy kids!

  • Mark

    I am 55 years old and I do not remember any fat kids when I was growing up. My Mother fed me the food of that time, meat, potatos, and veggies. Cooked with grease or lard. We had a bycycles we road everyday during the spring, summer and fall. We played football, baseball, basketball, army, taq, kick the can. We ran, jumped, climbed trees we fell a lot, or at least I did. We skined our knees we scraped our elbows and every now and then some kid would break their arm… We mowed the yard with a push mover not a riding mower. We ALL lived. Get the kids out of the house and in the yard to play. Off the computer and out of the house to play

  • Im 15 years old and Im in high school… There are a lot of people at my school who are over-wieght and i know first hand that the majority of these people are made fun of. I know this because the people I used to hang out with talk about people constantly. People honestly, once you get to middle school most people ain a lot of wieght… it is very hard to eat school lunches every day and stay healthy especially if u dont excercise. The obesity tends to lean more towards girls than guys. I dont know why. it is a lot of the parents fault but they do teach health at school and kids know whats heathy by the time they reach middle school at that point, what they eat is mainly their own responsibility, dont put all the blame on parents and schools because thats like blaming a hair dresser for giving you the exact haircut u wanted but you dont like the way it looks its your fault for chosing that cut if you dont like it fix it. Children and teens need to step up and take some responsibility for themselves.. they arent totally helpless stop spoon feeding them or they will never learn to fend for them selves!!!

  • Bethany…Thank you. It is wonderful to have a teenagers perspective. And, I think you must be a very mature 15 year old to feel that your peers should take responsibility for their own health. I remember as a teenager, I was aware, but still, my mom sent me to school with lunch. That is a role/a priority parents should/can make to help their children eat well. Thanks again…

  • John

    Blame the parents, fat stupid parents have fat stupid kids, its the American way, its very sad, however its true, I have relatives I want to strangle because of the unhealthy insane eating habits of their children, but in this politically correct world we live in, I am forced to be kept silent because everyone will just say im being an @$$hole. Overweight parents never do any kinds of physical activities with their kids, they drop them off at baseball or soccer and expect society to raise them. America is infested with people who expect the government or some other entity to take care of their problems, people need to take control of their lives for the childrens sake. We live in a society that tells us not to discipline our children but instead put them on drugs to “fix” the problem, I was your typical hyperactive ADD youngster growing up and through some butt whippings and mad respect for my mother and father everything worked out OK without any drugs. Kids today dont respect their parents, TV teaches them not to, just watch it with your kids and most programs show how smart the kids are and how dumb the parents are……but then again……maybe its a more accurate depiction than we think.

  • John

    OH yeah, i forgot to mention, parents need to be able to say NO to kids thats the other problem, when a kid wants junk food before dinner try saying NO, lots of parents cant say no because they “LOVE” them too much…….I say they are loving them to death.

  • Laina T

    When my oldest son was 5 YO (he is now 18) I noticed that over the course of a few months he had put on some weight, I took him to his pediatrician and we found that he had gained almost 25 lbs. in a few months whereas he had a steady weight gain in the past. I requested that he be tested for diabetes or any possible illness that could be related to weight gain, I had had gestational diabetes so I was leaning towards that. In 1995 they used adult values even with children’s testing so I was told he was fine. I had another son in 1996 and when he was around 5 YO I noticed the same thing, he gained in a short span of time. This time I wasn’t going to poo-pahed so I insisted on both boys being tested. Again I was told there was nothing wrong. So, I made an appointment with Children’s Mercy in KC and took the test results with me and had them retested. Sure enough both boys were insulin resistant. Even though they take medication, exercise and watch their diet they are both overweight. Don’t be so quick to judge and don’t always blame the parents. I was my children’s advocate and persisted but had doors shut in my face and basically made to feel like I was a crazy mom. There are a lot of metabolic disorders that affect a person’s weight, I too am insulin resistant but I also have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome.) There will always be parent’s who don’t care, my advice to the author of this article, don’t write articles on children until you have firsthand experience being a parent. It is so easy to sit in judgement on people until you put yourself in their shoes.

  • Terry

    The parents are to blame.

  • RMK

    Why don’t all of you fast like the mouslems around the world. Just a month from the whole year. Try It.

  • kali

    first off parents are not to blame….unless you blame them for not making the kids exercise or get active in sports etc… for eating at least they eat and make them eat….my kids dont eat as healthy as the person who took nutrition classses…but they eat a vegetable a meat and a starch and also eat a dessert….EVERY NIGHT….and my kids are underweight well except for my oldest who just had a child she is just right for her height….my kids eat like pigs and are still underweight….ITS THEIR BODY….its their metabolism….not the parents some people have to watch what they eat some dont thats their body….im obese and i hike 5 miles a day rain or shine….i have more muscle than fat and im more active than my kids….i dont eat right because i dont eat three meals a day like the doctor says to….i cant eat breakfast…i would literally get sick…my breakfast is a glass of milk and orange juice evry morning…my lunch is a cup of coffee…and my dinner is a good meal…..before 6 pm and my night snack…half the time i dont have one…..being obese isnt always a lack of exercise nor is it how much u eat its all in your body….learn your body thats the key…..dont blame parents for making their kids eat….blame them for not making them exercise….

  • Wow


  • jennasue

    You can’t blame the TV or video games without blaming the parents. Who allowed the children to have the video games? Who is letting them sit in front of the TV? It is the parents who are allowing this behavior. And to Mama, fast food is not in anyway cheaper then going to the grocery store. To buy a pound of ground meat (or ground turkey b/c it is better for you), a tomato, lettuce and buns is going to be cheaper, and healthier for your family when you add it up. You can make all of the excuses that you want, but you will only be lying to yourself. Again, the parents are to blame because we are the ones our children learn from. If you allow tv and video games and commercials to be your child’s role model, then you are a bad parent. Face the facts people, suck it up and take responsibility.

  • annisa

    I am ashamed to live in America now, everywhere i go, i see americans drinking soda or having fast food. it is disgusting. Its not that hard to be healthy.

  • Catherine

    What I am so surprised about is the sheer hostility and anger directed toward the overweight/obese…..surely adding in THAT anxiety cannot be helpful to our children.

    That said, my approach is to cultivate an interest in vegetables and less so for fruit, but not to freak out or excessively monitor every little thing my 3 yo daughter eats (she is on the slim side, BTW). It’s the obsessiveness on this issue that causes eating problems and obesity more than anything. We as parents are all caught up in the notion of trophy children–the idea that if your kid is not ‘perfect’ then fix it.

    And if your/my kid ends up overweight? SO WHAT! What about focusing on health overall and downplaying appearance? People come in all shapes and sizes, and as long as my child is healthy and happy, I could care less how much she weighs. The worst outcome would be for her to develop an obsession over food and appearance, or worse: an eating disorder.

  • Becky

    I was surfing the internet to see if some people have the same point of view as me. I see some do, but with extreme negativity. Obesity can be contributed to genetics &/or other health issues, but what about children who don’t have such issues and are still obese. I feel parents should take responsibility for their children’s obesity. Lets take a look on the other side of the spectrim on weight issues. If a parent has a child that is underweight, chances are high the parent will be reported to the authorities and investigated for abuse and neglect. Chances are the child will be removed from the home. Family court will mandate supervised visitation, parenting classes, nutrition classes, family therapy etc. If the parent complies to all the requirements, custody may return to the parent. However, the parent will constantly be supervised by state social workers for an unspecified period of time and every parental decision is questioned. This is a reality for most parents of underweight children. If parents of underweight children are expected to take responsibility, why isn’t parents of morbidity obese children forced to do the same? A four year old child shouldn’t weight the same as twelve – thirteen year old. Parenting is hard and it is easier to throw in the towel, but at what cost?

  • carlso24

    my step-brother is close to 60lbs over weight. Yes, he is naturally a big boned guy. He is only 16 and he weighs close to 300lbs. He is tall. There was two issues with him: 1) he ate mainly junk food and his portions were out of control 2)he HATES exercising! He’d much rather play his computer games all day. My mom bought him a bike but he rarely road it. My mom bought him a basketball hoop but he doesn’t use it. Recently he has been getting better and the key was integrating the diet program with the whole family. He and his dad are very close so they go to the gym together. The meals are healthy and everyone at the table watches thier portion control. He’s finally getting the right mentality but it was by not singling him out. His original issues also arose from his parents. Both his mom and dad didn’t really say anything about his eating habits and they would buy him lots of junk food. I think both sides felt guilty about getting a divorce so they pampered him. So yes, genetics played a role in his weight but it was also behavioral problems as well.

  • Jessica

    Uh Catherine, I don’t think the concern is “trophy children.” There are a lot of extremely overweight children out there. And the parents aren’t doing anything. All the time, I see fat parents out there taking their overweight kids out to fast food restaurants and whatnot. I admit that I sometimes stare. I just can’t see how they can’t see that they are destroying their children. It is sad to see a little kid try to go down a slide and get stuck — why isn’t the parent sad enough about what they have done to their kid to do something about it? It’s not that hard. Try steamed broccoli with some pepper and maybe even a little bit of butter — beats the hell out of the greasy french fries they keep shoving in their faces.

  • BK

    I definitely believe that parents should take the main responsibility to child obesity since they are the one who are in direct control of the diet of their children. But it is not enough to watch what they are giving to their children. They should also watch what they are putting into their own mouths; how can they convince children to eat healthy when they are putting all the junk food into their own mouths. Children don’t do things we ask them to do, they do what they see us doing everyday. So as parents and adults, we must lead by model.

  • If people think it is because parents haven’t been educated on ‘healthy eating’…well, I want to know where these people have been. I have adult morbidly obese clients who were put on diets by the age of 5. Restricting our children’s intake has been happening for at least half a century. To what result? This causes binges, hiding food, shame, and an emotional divide between children and their parents.

    Some people get it, most don’t. These children are eating more than their bodies need, largely in order to regulate emotions. It wouldn’t matter what they eat too much of (it is not WHAT they eat that is the problem)–but that is where all the focus is. It is not odd, then, that things are just getting worse. Why are you eating, sweetie? Are you feeling hungry? In your tummy? If kids are asking for food, and you are pretty sure they are not physically hungry (ie. just ate a filling amount), suggest playing with them and if still hungry, get a snack. Often our kids come to us for food (or seek it out themselves) when they are not getting the time/attention they want from us. We need to teach them ways of self soothing that do not include food–though most adults need to learn this first themselves.

    Stop using the same, failed technique to address a problem–it only makes things worse.

  • LM

    I don’t use the concept of “blame” which presupposes concepts of “free will” not supported by science. But there are certainly “causal factors”, with parents high up on the list.

    I see a few scenarios. Most commonly overweight parents, who have talked themselves, for their own psychological survival, into believing their weight is just fine. Accepting their children are overweight would force the same in them.

    I see parents who just want to eat crap themselves. Even though they may share genes with their kids, they were lucky enough to grow up in a generation that had smaller portions, and more exercise. They got by the dangerous childhood period, and don’t see why they should change things for their kids.

    I see parents who are overworked and can’t deal with the stress of worrying about restricting their kids’ diets. They made bad choices, had too many kids, married (or didn’t) partners who left them and chose homes in the suburbs, guaranteeing their kids couldn’t walk anywhere. Not they are stuck.

    And I see ignorant parents. Sometimes with far subnormal intellectual capacity, who really are unlikely ever to understand the issues. Are you really going to teach a parent with an IQ of 75 about the details of childhood nutrition?

    Aside from parents, we have cities built for cars. Cars are probably the greatest contributer to obesity. I don’t knock the automobile…if I need a trip to the hospital, that’s how I want to get there. But riding around in a car all the time is the biggest obesity related change in the last 100 years.

    And we have huge portions, and easy access to junk food. Halloween means little to kids with enough pocket change to buy several sodas and candy bars a day. The potions served at restaurants are enormous. Exercise is great, but eating fewer calories is the most essential component to keeping weight down.

    And keeping weight down is the key. After it’s gained it is likely too late. But no one wants to admit that. It’s demoralizing when you have the weight, and people fear it will trigger anorexia among the young. But isn’t being surrounded by the very real possibility of obesity an even bigger trigger for this reactionary behavior?

    We’re really looking at too little too late. People don’t want to accept the harsh realities that a) humans are weak and cannot be relied upon to make good choices on their own, b) being just 5 lbs overweight as a teen really is the start of later life obesity, c) once you gain weight you are very unlikely to lose it, d) overweight parents are blinded by their own issues, e) a healthy lifestyle means NOT living in the suburbs and f) we have to just eat less.

  • Dana

    I have three children who are tall for their age but went through a stage right before they grew where they gained some weight. According to the BMI report card from school…my daughter who was 10 YO about 4’10 and weighed about 113 was OBESE… she is now 11 YO about 5’2…maybe 95lbs and afraid to eat!! My other daughter was hospitalized last year because of all the emphasis that is put on being skinny. Why are kids having to even talk about their BMI…
    It is the parents responsibility along with their pediatrician…not the schools! This is an area that the government needs to stay the hell away from. I now have two daughters that have a life threatening disease. Their chance of surviving over the age of 25 is 60%!
    I understand that there is a problem with obesity but if you are not careful with adolescence and don’t handle it right you will end up with another problem that is worse.
    To make matter worse my daughter who was hospitalized with anorexia and almost died is not allowed to get on a scale(she has to have a blind weight)…was weighed at the beginning of the school year (9th grade) in front of the entire class. This was a class assignment to find their BMI! Now children in K, 2nd, 5th and 9th grade are checked for their BMI (parents can opt out).


    I believe that childhood obesity may be eradicated only by introducing the problems of wrong lifestyle routines and choices through the introduction of the missing subject of
    ‘BALANCED WHOLISTIC EDUCATION ‘ in our former education system. till we are innovative to synergise with the education courses with the help of healthy ‘CAKE’ I.E. Committment to the Application of Knowledge Evaluated,it is just not possible to enable people to make right choices , and even make them aware about the real problem of controlling personal environment.

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