While every child loves fruit, most love vegetables if they are exposed to them a dozen times or more. Vegetables are better foods for children than fruits, but the causes of obesity are numerous. If you have trouble getting your children to eat their veggies, write to me - I have plenty of ideas, from having fun cooking adventures with them to making them pretty on the plate: apetites are increased by more than just sauces!
In the mean time, I read some scary statistics from the new book Ending the Food Fight, Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World by David Ludwig, MD, PhD. They speak for themselves:
* The percentage of overweight children ages six to 11 has doubled in the last 25 years.
* The percentage of overweight teens has tripled.
* One in three American children (30 million kids) are overweight today (and it is predicted that one in two — a full half of all children! — will be overweight by 2010).
* Pediatricians now treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, “adult” onset (type 2) diabetes, heart attacks, and sleep apnea in children.
* By the time overweight children are in their 20s, they can expect to be diagnosed with diseases that normally affect people in their 60s and 70s, including heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and even amputations caused by complications from diabetes.
* Overweight children are discriminated against more than those in wheelchairs or with facial disfigurement.
* Childhood obesity affects the quality of life as much as a diagnosis of cancer does.
* Life expectancy is declining for the first time in human history.
* A typical child sees 10,000 junk food ads a year.
* Modern foods are made by food chemists, not grown by farmers.
* Neighborhood playgrounds, school physical education, and after-school programs have all declined dramatically — while junk food vending machines are now everywhere in schools.
* A Harvard study of 750 children from 10 to 15 years old found that kids who watched five hours of television or more a day (compared to those who watched two hours or less), had a FIVE-fold (500 percent) greater risk of being overweight.
* Sixty percent of all childhood obesity can be attributed to watching TV. For every hour of TV watched, weight increases by six pounds.
* Soda intake has increased 500 percent since the 1950s and now comprises 10 percent of all calories consumed by the average teenager.
* Among 500 middle school children, the risk of becoming obese increased 60 percent for every additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink per day.
* In a study of 3,000 children over 15 years, those eating fast food twice a week or more gained an extra 10 pounds. (One fast food meal can contain more than the all the calories the body needs for the entire day!)
Dr. Ludwig’s solutions are not too different from what we have been hearing for years, yet very few parents are following this basic common sense advice for healthy living. It’s not too late to affect your family’s health for the better, but it may be too late if we don’t all do something soon.