• author
    • Hollye Dexter

    • January 26, 2013 in Bloggers

    Childhood Obesity- Is it Our Problem?

    child obesity

    A friend recently posted on facebook her outrage when she saw parents feeding their obese children soda and chips. This started a lively stream of comments. Some said they were sickened by it. Some said it wasn’t for us to judge. Some said they wouldn’t do it but it’s none of our business how others raise their kids, and yes, that’s true.However, too often you hear of child abuse cases where the neighbors knew something was going on but they “didn’t want to get involved.”

    According to a recent New York Times article, “A rare study that tracked thousands of children through adulthood found the heaviest youngsters were more than twice as likely as the thinnest to die prematurely, before age 55, of illness or a self-inflicted injury. Youngsters with a condition called pre-diabetes were at almost double the risk of dying before 55, and those with high blood pressure were at some increased risk. But obesity was the factor most closely associated with an early death, researchers said.”

    In that case, would feeding a child to the point of obesity be a form of child abuse? If it takes a village to raise a child, that means we all stand up for and protect the children in our village. But how?

    Some years ago, in one of Evan’s Mommy and Me classes, there was a little girl, only three years old, who was obese. It was already affecting her knees and her ability to play like the other kids. Yet at snack time, this little girl’s mother (who was a very sweet lady and obviously loved her daughter) was feeding her child greasy corn dogs and potato chips and fruit punch. I really liked this mom, but it was like watching her spoonfeed the child poison. I felt tormented witnessing this week after week, but I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.

    If we see a child with bruises, it’s our responsibility to report it. That is a given. But talking about obesity is a societal taboo, and telling someone how to raise their kids is a surefire way to end a friendship. So here’s my question for the “village”: When is it our place to say something? If you see parents raising a child in a way that can lead to an early death, do you speak up? And if so, what do you say?

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    • Having worked for pediatricians for years I believe the parents know the problem but it is deeper than just eating greasy foods. It is the environment in which they live. No big market outlets in poorer neighbors and more importantly no education on nutrition in the household. I saw many parents struggling with their over weight kids and also saw the other end of it with bulimia and anorexia. The sad part is the control has to come from within after a certain age and that is hard to manage as a parent or for kids and teens and also adults. For the youngest of children I am convinced the parents are well aware of their children’s obesity but haven’t the tool to fight it. I would not presume to ever mention weight to a parent as they struggle with it everyday. Also, not only in poorer neighborhoods but in middle class and upper class and the issues are different but the results are just as trying. Weight is an issue for all American as we get more and more obese but I still feel all we can do is fund education in the preschool and even earlier prenatally from doctors and clinics and make it a priority. Education is the key not chastising a kid or their parents in public for sure.

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