Obese Parents, Obese Children = A Big Fat Problem in America

Thank you, dear readers, for the kind comments on yesterday’s post about our sleepless nights and Leone’s biting. Nursing has gone better today. I only offer when I am sure the baby’s hungry so she has no temptation to use my breast as a dog chew toy, and then I remind her to be gentle before she latches on. I think that, combined with the screaming and sobbing (mine) when she does bite me by mistake, is getting the point across.

This baby has yet to start on solid foods of any kind though she’s had a taste here and there. She ate a pea-sized amount of avocado with breast milk (yum) before losing interest the other day and tonight she ate a bit of roasted yam. She’s so funny about food. She grabs at it, puts it in her mouth, gets a very surprised look on her face, and then vigorously pumps her tongue in and out of her mouth to get the strange substance off.

Maybe because Leone is on the cusp of starting solids or maybe because of Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity or maybe because James and I watched Food, Inc. (fun date night movie, not!) recently but obesity is on my mind.

Here are my questions:

Is it child abuse to let your children become obese?

Is it self-abuse to let yourself become so fat you can barely walk?

I can’t stop thinking about this New York Times article about the toll obesity in women is taking on women and their newborns.

The mom profiled in the article, who weighed 261 pounds when she was admitted to the hospital after having a stroke from obesity-related medical problems, mentioned that she was actually the smallest person in her family. Her brother weighed 700 pounds before having surgery.

According to the article, one in five women is obese when she gets pregnant.

Also according to the New York Times, one in three children in America is now considered to be overweight or obese.

How is this possible?

It’s so upsetting how we are harming ourselves and our children with the unhealthy way we eat in America.

Then I get mad. Not at the women who are suffering from obesity or at the children who are so sedentary and such unhealthy eaters that they are obese.

I get mad at an amorphous entity, the food industrial complex—the distributors that supply fatty sugary junky school lunches, the McDonalds and other fast food chains that serve Americans meat from sick and mistreated cows who were literally wallowing in their own feces while alive, and the overly subsidized industrial farmers who have such a stranglehold on what is grown in America that corn syrup solids are among the first ingredients in some baby formulas.

We need to feed our children food.

We need to feed ourselves food.

This seems so basic and obvious but most of the people I know—at least the ones bringing snacks for my son’s kindergarten class—don’t seem to get it. High fructose corn syrup is not food. Red Dye #40 is not food. Refined and processed wheat (aka white flour) also doesn’t count as food in my book. Anything unpronounceable on the label? Chances are it’s not food.

It’s good advice to read ingredient labels but even better advice to stop buying packaged foods as much as possible. (We’re striving to do this in our family though we don’t always succeed.) Instead of something that’s been processed and then wrapped in plastic, buy fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t come in a bag (or better yet pick them straight from your own garden. Mine has failed two years in a row but I’m trying again, damn it), eat nuts and dried fruits and beans and whole grains like brown rice and steel-cut oats (at the Ashland Food Co-op you can buy all of these foods in bulk), local eggs, and free-range, kindly treated meats (if you eat meat).

Oy, such healthy suggestions. I think I’ll go eat a chocolate bar before bed.

What are you feeding your kids? What are you feeding yourself? Do you think childhood obesity is child abuse? Who should we be holding accountable for our nation’s obesity problems?

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on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 at 9:53 pm and is filed under kids and food.
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