“She likes to eat,” the mother said. She didn’t have to spell it out. It was obvious that her child at the age of nine was well on her way to become obese. I counseled clients like her before. They keep coming to my practice on a regular basis. Children as young as three or four years old are being diagnosed with multiple health problems caused by overweight. Sadly, they will have to cope with the consequences for the rest of their lives. They are cut off from their future in so many ways, and so unnecessarily.
While kids are focused on planning their costumes and candy collecting routes, many parents are worried about sugar content and how to manage their youngsters’ appetite for sweets. I have written about ways to handle candy in the past, but today I am targeting food dyes. From cereal to yogurt, food dyes are infused in countless items in our food supply. In the candy category, it’s usually off the charts.
Satisfaction with one’s physical appearance is at an all-time low among today’s adolescents, and eating disorders are on the rise at an ever-younger age. Much of the blame goes to the media and fashion industry and their standards of beauty and fitness that are nearly impossible to reach for normal mortals. On the other hand, too many young people don’t take warnings about overweight and obesity seriously enough and underestimate the health risks they will be facing as adults.
As childhood obesity rates continue to rise worldwide, we are now approaching the level of a major public health crisis. While that is common knowledge among experts, the alarming news doesn’t seem to reach millions upon millions of parents who keep overfeeding their offspring with unhealthy meals and fattening treats. In fact, many of those whose children have been diagnosed as overweight or obese insist that there is nothing wrong with a little chubbiness at a young age.
For some teenagers, putting on some extra weight can be a normal part of their development. For others, weight gain is a sign that eating habits and physical activity are getting off track. As a parent, there’s a fine line to walk when your teen starts to show signs of gaining too many pounds. What should you do? Should you do anything at all?
Childhood obesity remains a serious health threat, and it is not surprising that parents and schools take much of the blame for their kids’ poor diets. But while there is no one cause for weight problems affecting children, food outlets may not be getting enough attention when it comes to food choices families make. In fact, grocery stores could play a much larger role in the fight against childhood obesity in their communities.