Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is feeding your kids junk food child abuse?

Do you know any parent's who say their baby "likes" a certain food? They look at you sheepishly as they put Cheetos on the baby's food tray. They can't help it. Its just what this little munchkin wants to eat. NO IT ISN'T.  Your baby is a baby. It doesn't like anything. It doesn't wake up in the middle of the night and raid your kitchen and develop a palate for unhealthy food. You literally control almost everything it eats. The only way your child is going to like chocolates or cookies or fried foods is if you give it to them. It is not funny to put unhealthy foods in your babies mouth to see what cute faces it will make. That is wrong.

Or is it? Today, I was talking to my Aunt on the phone and was telling her how horrified I was because I saw someone giving a baby candy. In a few more words, my Aunt told me that was dumb. Not the giving baby candy part. The me being horrified part! She told me that people who worry too much about that stuff are always the ones that end up with lots of health problems. She went on to tell me stories about how all my cousins had been eating junk food since they were just months old.  Things are different in the village. But maybe she has a point. Maybe you shouldn't be giving a baby or small child cokes and sugars and fast food. But maybe if you do, it really isn't that big of a deal.

Or is it? Health Affairs devoted a whole issue to "The Child Abuse We Inflict Through Child Obesity." The issue discussed the fact that overweight children are predisposed to develop chronic health conditions including diabetes and colon cancer and are likely to have shorter life spans than their parents'.

There has been a lot of talk about an article from Vogue in which a mom describes her one-year quest to help her 7-year old daughter lose 16 pounds. It has caused a lot of controversy with most people being angered that she would put her young daughter through the year that she did.

Although this particular mom clearly took the wrong approach, I think she was right to be concerned when her 7-year old daughter's doctor told her that she was obese and needed to lose weight. When people start feeding their babies and toddlers junk food in this nation where processed and fast food are available at every corner, they are setting them up for food addictions, chronic diseases and most likely a serious case of low self-esteem. When children get older, things change. They are given treats at school, they are influenced by friends or they just develop their own eating habits. But for the few years that you can protect your child from the downfalls of unhealthy food, I just can't understand why you wouldn't.

And at the end of the day, maybe it really isn't a big deal to give kids a cookie or a snack every now and then but it really is a big deal when you don't couple those treats with a strong foundation in eating nutritiously and a commitment to an active lifestyle.  

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