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Saved by the Dr. Bell

The overweight child

A-new-research-claims-the-logos-of-companies-like-McDonalds-Pizza-Hut-and-Burger-King-are-branded-on-the-youngsters-brains"How can my child be overweight?"

A lot of parents are surprised when I inform them that their children are overweight and are categorically obese. Many parents are shocked and defensive on this subject. This is a very touchy subject, and I understand the difficulties with self esteem and bullying regarding a child's weight, but the fact remains, many of our children are overweight and it is up to us parents to accept this and move on to help.

Most grade school children need to gain roughly 6 lbs a year, but many are gaining 15, 20 even 30 lbs a year without signs of stopping. We are in an epidemic and it is your responsibility as parents to enforce changes for your child's health.

I believe there are three main reasons why our children are overweight, and you will be surprised to hear what is the most important reason to me.

1. Our children are more sedentary.

Yes, our children are not running around outside anymore. As kids we of the 80's and 90's generation rode our bikes outside, played in the woods and had no iphones, ipads, computer games, etc. to keep us entertained during the afternoons, weekends, and summers. We didn't have to be forced to exercise because that was all there was to do.

Parents are now in a position of having to force our children to go outside and play, to join a sport, do martial arts, or go to summer camps just to keep them active. I encourage making our children do this because they rarely will make this choice themselves, and, let's face it, it's good for them.

This is not the major reason for our overweight children. There is no amount of exercise that a grade schooler will perform that will burn off the calories for excessive weight gain. Running a child on a treadmill is unrealistic, and only the most motivated teen will exercise in amounts capable of creating significant calorie burn.

2. Our children are overeating.

This is true. Many children are snacking after they get home, and snack after dinner. Many children are taking extra helpings of food at dinner, and eating too fast to see that they are not hungry. Again, portion sizes in the 80s and 90s were much smaller. McDonald's gave us a small burger, small fries and a small drink, and that was a meal for a truck driver. There is a culture nowadays of continually eating throughout the day, returning to the kitchen in the evening hours for more and more food because we are not feeling full and satiated.

But there is more to this problem than the amount, and here is the key:

3. Our children are eating the wrong foods.

You know this is true. Again, parents, as children of the 80's and 90's, we had better food. The fruits and vegetables were local, the meats were raised on grass not corn, and rarely was anything breaded.

This is my belief, that our children are eating unhealthy foods at every meal and gaining weight without nutrition. We forget that we eat for energy and growth, but instead our culture has turned eating into a form of entertainment and source of comfort.

Look at a typical day's intake in a grade school child:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Snack (home from school)

Dinner:

Add up a few of these items and you end up with more calories than a typical adult eats, more saturated fats and carbohydrates than any healthy individual needs in a day.

I believe that if you examine what your child is eating on a daily basis, then you will see why your child is gaining too much weight, why he has stomach pains, why is he tired every day, and why he has rapid mood changes.

Your child needs real nutrition, and it's simple: fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, fish, with minimal added sugars, preservatives, corn syrup and saturated fats.

Homo Sapiens have evolved over 2 million years of foraging and hunting. Agriculture was invented 10,000 years ago. Our bodies and intestines were adapted to eat fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and fish. Our bodies are not meant for high sugar diets, with breads and grains, high carbohydrate foods. If we can get back to a more natural diet, our children will thrive with less obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

Is it too idealistic for this to be possible?

"But my child won't eat those vegetables, and he refuses to eat fruits. He only eats those chicken nuggets from [insert brand here]."

Eating habits are hard to change. But first you must accept the fact that these habits have to change. Then we will move on in the next blog post.