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Childhood Obesity in the US: Out of Control?

We look at why kids are packing on the pounds, and what we can do about it.

Big Mac sandwich (AP)

Big Mac sandwich (AP)

One in three American children is overweight or obese. Those extra pounds come with health risks. More diabetes. High blood pressure. Sky high cholesterol.

First Lady Michelle Obama is promoting healthy eating. Superstar chef Jamie Oliver took over a school cafeteria in West Virginia. They face fierce competition from our insatiable appetite for all things processed and fried. Doctors say childhood obesity is a full-blown medical crisis.

Most parents think their kids are just fine. We weigh the evidence.

This hour On Point: Battling childhood obesity in America.

Kelly Brownell, co-founder and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, which works to improve the world’s diet, prevent obesity, and reduce weight stigma. He is also a professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale. TIME magazine has called him a “warrior” in the area of nutrition and public policy.

Dr. Christine Carter-Kent, pediatric gastroenterologist and director of the Pediatric Cardiology and Metabolic Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic. She specializes in pediatric obesity.

Terry Alston, health and physical education teacher and Wellness Coordinator for the Long Mill Elementary public school in Youngsville, NC

Tedy Bruschi, former linebacker for the New England Patriots. He was recently named to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

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  • jeffe

    Yes, and so is adult obesity. This is tied to cheap high fat, high sugar, high salt content fast food. Our whole food industrial complex is geared towards this industry which is spreading to other countries. In China this is now becoming a problem due to the exact same fast food diet. The fast food industry will tell you it’s about choice, I’ve heard this argument before from the tobacco corporations. I don’t buy it for a second.

    When you can call a cereal like Fruit Loops a high fiber breakfast you know something is wrong.

    The culprit, corn by products such as high fructose corn syrup. Go into any supermarket and you will find this stuff in everything, from ketchup to Corn Flakes.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blnduEgwBH0 Kash Hoffa

    “Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables.”


  • cory


    I think it is even more simple than you stated above. Not just fast food, but easy food without much work required. We all have to figure out a balance between a body that evolved to survive during times of scarcity, and a world with an overabundance of calorie rich foods.

    I haven’t figured it out. I am an obese “foodie”. I know how I should be and even have a good understanding of what I should do. I just don’t have the willpower to execute these good decisions. Maybe someday I will.

  • JP

    This is nothing more than bad parenting and our governments failed attempt to replace the parents with their laws and regulations.

    There are only two things that stop obesity; famine and good parenting.

  • kickapooviking

    This problem will self-correct when the big depression comes.
    When climate changes and recession really get ramped up, the fat millions will be the first to lose…

  • Mr. Trees

    An interesting aside: I am the proud father of a one and a half year old girl and my little darling is notorious in her appetite for peas, corn and no other vegetable. That is, until this Summer’s garden came into fruit. We can pick just about anything out of the garden and she is nuts about it. Tomato? Delicious. Zuchinni? Seconds please! The attitude change for vegetables, simply by seeing them develop, is nothing short of amazing. And this brings me to my point; bring the kids back to the earth and it’s importance in our nourishment. You might be surprised at the result.

  • http://www.vickiarkens.com Vicki Arkens

    Salty snack foods and soda pop were developed and marketed during the twentieth century. If those two things could be eliminated, I think we’d see a sharp reduction in obesity.

  • John

    We need to stop subsidizing corn.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Soda and prepared dry cereals are not cheap. It’s hard to see how that figures, if cheap food is fattening food. Which food exactly?
    When I was a child, I was taught one did not touch soda, nor candy. Eating those things was akin to gambling, actions for those rash with money. That idea lasted for many decades.
    But then what about the one dollar hamburger available at the bus station or pretty much any fast food place? It is dessicated flour (white bread bun) around a piece of meat that is HARDLY satisfying, a sort of scab on fluff.

  • http://ibelieveinbutter.wordpress.com Soli

    1. Too many people want a lot of cheap food. Cheap food=poor quality, low nutrition, and eating a lot more to feel sated.
    2. Corn subsidies, along with soy, need to go. Watch King Corn to get a good idea on this.
    3. We’re so scared of eating fat in this society when we NEED fat to function. So instead of things like real butter, full fat milk, and animal fats from HEALTHY (non-CAFO, corn fed) animals, we will buy margarine and oils made from heavily processed vegetables which our bodies cannot digest and turns out blood vessels into plastic.
    4. And on the fat fear front, let’s get rid of all the “Fat free” foods which are pumped full of sugar to give them flavor. SUGAR is what really makes you fat.

  • Ellen Dibble

    After the Depression of the 1930s, and World War II, children were taught to eat something that “sticks to your ribs,” not fluff. It was not assumed that children would overeat. Rather, that they might eat something sugary and be hungry a few hours later.
    Do children learn what satiation means? What it means to eat in order to feel satisfied? (Versus jazzed up with a sugar high.)

  • Josh G.

    I agree, we need to stop subsidizing corn. We need to make wholesome, healthy food more affordable. It starts with real produce that people can actually afford. Any sort of cheap food is 100% processed.

  • John

    Eric Cartman should be the only cartoon character allowed to advertise food to children.

  • Nick

    Child obescity is often the result of social malaise.

  • franziska amacher

    We are doing something about it at the Ford School in Lynn, MA
    Program:”Countering Obesity among Children in the Higlands”
    In connection with the schoolyard gardens that we started 3 years ago, 10 obese kids are articipating in this program with teaching them all from gardening to a membership at the YMCA to helping their familiesn with a new diet. UMass helps them with cooking the new diet.
    These kids also participate in an art camp to build their self confidence.
    The Tufts School of Nutrition also participates in it.

  • j.d. smith

    As we are beginning to see, the food industry fosters and caters to very perverse tastes. Parents themselves are overweight and begin to see themselves and their children as “normal”. They have completely lost their objectivity in judging their appearance and state of health, as most of the obese have no idea of what it feels like to feel really good and healthy.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There was a book published about 1945 called “Eat Well For Less,” encouraging proteins built from combinations of beans and rice, as I recall, but significantly pushing the use of kidneys, tongue, liver, which in those days were cheap if you knew enough to ask for it. The book was useful to me as a teen, when my appetites seem to be turning me into another creature altogether. I studied the calorie charts obsessively, but also the vitamin charts and so on. Aren’t other people growing up fascinated by this? I haven’t seen a comparable book since the diet books began coming out.

  • JP

    Since America is still a free country, we should not ban foods or ingredients.

    Obesity is the fault of the individual and the family. Without the individual and the family taking responsibility for their actions they will never be successful controlling their weight or their life.

  • Michael

    I agree that childhood obesity is a growing problem, as is the associated increase in type 2 diabetes. Which reminds me of my own experience with the opposite of obesity.

    When I developed diabetes (type 1), I lost a lot of weight. Age 33 male, 6’2″, 143 lbs. I was and looked underweight, and got comments because of it. I found out that being underweight in this culture isn’t fun either. I also found that the older generations, including relatives, kept insisting that I eat more, eat more, get that weight back on. And when I was finally at a healthy weight, it was still eat more, you’re so thin.

    Remember, there are other, and long standing, societal influences that also weigh in on the obeisity epidemic.

  • Ellen Dibble

    JP, free country: In the Elena Kagan hearing yesterday and the day before, one of the Republicans was hammering the nominee with this: Can we legally mandate that everyone eat six vegetables/fruits each day? His idea was that the health insurance bill forcing people to buy health insurance (with considerable government subsidy) was akin to requiring us to buy and eat vegetables. He attached this to the interstate commerce clause, with broad interpretation. If the government is responsible in part for our health, can they mandate not only the purchase of insurance but the purchase of vegetables?
    Something like that.

  • JP

    Soda Taxes are un-American and should not be enacted. If you want to tax people for bad behavior, you should have put it in the health care bill in the form of factoring in BMI or weight into the premium cost of health insurance.

  • Muriel

    In the following lecture, Dr. Robert H. Lusting, MD, Professor of Pediatrics in the division of Endocrinology at the University of California San Francisco (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM) demonstrates that fructose and especially high fructose corn syrup is a toxin (just like alcohol/ethanol) that should be regulated as such and that plays a huge part in the obesity epidemics. This video is a must see.

  • John

    Feel free to blame individuals after we have real choices to easily buy foods free from corn syrup, horomones, subsidized calories, marketing targeting children, etc.

  • Martha Appleton

    Who’s in charge of running the household?

    Re: “My kids will only eat pasta, pizza”.
    Childhood is all about testing boundaries and parenting involves setting the standard and providing guidance.
    The parents are in charge–not the children!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Healthy snacks. For the well-to-do, yogurts are handy healthy snacks. Cheaper if you buy a quart at a time, best if bought no-fat, no flavoring. One can eat a quart of that at lunch.
    In dire straits, you can buy powdered skim milk by 20-quart boxes and turn that into home-made yogurt using a windowsill on hot days. Books should be available so someone in the community knows these things. You keep the bacterial organism alive to seed the next batch.

  • shannon ward

    I would just like to point out that states allow people to purchase junk food with little nutritional value with food stamps.

  • JP

    Martha Appleton,

    You are a voice of sanity in an insane world that likes blaming companies for all their problems.

  • http://npr.org Tana Barnett

    I would like to address the comments on foods in schools. I believe the issue goes beyond banning sodas and vending machines in schools. The government needs to amend the regulations of what schools can serve as meals. I don’t believe any reasonable person and especially doctors would agree that french fries and brocolli caserole qualify as vegatables or canned fruit in heavy sugar syrup qualify as fruit. Until public schools are forced to change what they serve this problem will continue. And parents are powerless to confront this in anyway other than providing lunch from home for their children.


  • George Halston

    So long as the government continues to provide cash money and electronic benefits cards for the poor segments of the population to purchase food, there will be no financial or economic incentive for these groups to stop purchasing unhealthy food items. You can tax the sugar, fat, and salt in these foods all you want to, and the people who have access to funds and moneys from the government will have no financial disincentive to stop purchasing the unhealthy food choices that they have been making that have caused them to become so fat and obese.

  • Muriel

    Yes parents and family have a big responsibility in what their children eat and drink, it takes a lot of hard work and time to find foods that have no high fructose corn syrup in them. Can you address the issue of high fructose corn syrup?

  • http://ibelieveinbutter.wordpress.com Soli

    1. Ellen Dibble, no way on the fat free milk products. Much worse than the supposed horror of milk fat, which is actually GOOD for you. Kids NEED fat for development.

    2. I loathe that term “overnourished” and have heard Brownell use it before. If that were the case, obese kids in the inner cities would not regularly get diagnosed with deficiencies like rickets.

  • http://rbtbas@vermontel.net Robert Bassalin

    Wonderful topic, but to much emphasise on sugar.
    I’ve lost and kept off about 50 lbs with the help of a local physician specializing in nutrition.
    His key to weight control is to eat nothing out of a box or a can. You chop the perimeter of the supermarket, eat real food, and he wiil then test different food groups to discover which foods you do not metabloize well. We all metabolize foods differently.
    CORN and corn syrups, byproducts are problem, especially for me as I did not test well with corn. But try to read a food label that doesn’t have a corn by-product in it. The lack of REAL FOOD is the bigger issue.
    Thank You

  • Ann

    BEWARE!!! The SUGAR SUBSTITUTES can be JUST AS DANGEROUS, if not more so!!

    I just got over 2 1/2 years of being POISONED by a sugar substitute (the one which begins with the letter “A”)!!!

    My BRAIN WAS COMPLETELY SCRAMBLED for those 2 1/2 years for FOUR TO SIX HOURS AT A TIME!! I could not LOOK at a number without SCRAMBLE!! I also had PAINFUL DIZZINESS (have you ever HEARD of such a thing??!!)

    I wonder how many kids are mis-diagnosed with A.D.H.D., when, in fact, they are suffering from the NEURO-TOXINS in this SUGAR SUBSTITUTE!!!


    (I read labels ALL the time; but must have missed this one.)

  • Nathan Hill

    Why isn’t anyone talking about the government’s role in cheap, unhealthy food? Why aren’t we hearing about the annual farm bill that subsidizes industrial corn, therefore our entire food industry. This is the reason for soda and other sugary drinks being so cheap and accessible. High fructose corn syrup has replaced real sugar in our country which is a huge part of the problem. There have also been numerous studies linking high fructose corn syrup to diabities more so than regular sugar. This needs to be seriously addressed. There is no nutritional value in corn and it’s the base ingredient for everything! I don’t think we’re overweight because we eat too much fat, I think we’re overweight because we’re incredibly unhealthy.

  • Catherine Ono

    Our family income is $50,000 a year. We’re not rich but from early on I made choices in what I fed my kids; now 2 healthy teenagers. I stopped buying juice and began giving water. “May I have some CCW” (cold cold water) became a constant refrain in our home. I home cooked most of our meals. We still have ice cream, dark chocolate and other sweets that we all love. Moderation is key. I never tried to knock out everything unhealthy but just keep the amount down.

  • catherine hogan

    The panel continues to refer to ‘sugar’ drinks. However, most sodas are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup these days. Those soft drinks sweetened with sugar are boutique style sodas, and are much more costly to begin with. Isnt it misleading to keep referring to “sugar”? Please help the educational process- call it what it is!

    Thank you so much! Catherine – Jamaica Plain, MA

  • Ellen Dibble

    Soli, I’m not opposed to milk fat, especially for young children. By the way, powdered milk has vitamin D added, so if one uses a lot of it, a grownup is okay. The family I grew up in had milk at lunch and dinner and all day long for snacks, and once we hit teenage years we were offered skim milk as an alternative anytime at doctor’s advice. We always got plenty of milk fat because lots of good whole milk products were available. I just ate so much yogurt that it became advisable to go no-fat. And as a senior person now, it’s great to have a distinct preference for no-fat dairy.

  • A. Richard Hunter

    The US should look at nutrition education in France. My memory of the details is vague, but evidently French people have been taught (in public school home ec. classes) both good cooking and nutrition including portion control. This has evidently led to better public health and much less obesity throughout life.

    Meanwhile home ec. is losing ground in US schools…

  • Melissa

    People are constantly commenting on how skinny my 8 year old son is. My husband and I are both slim and tall, both from genetics and lifestyle, so we didn’t think he was that skinny, just slender like us. However, people always comment on it and make fun of our food restrictions (reasonable portion sizes, lots of fruits and veggies, and no fast food or products with lots of processed sugar or partially hydrogenated soybean oil). We also restrict TV and computer time and do lots of activities outdoors as a family.
    So many people commented on my son’s “skinnyness” however, that we mentioned it to the pediatrician. The pediatrician told us our son was perfect. He basically said other people’s sense of healthy weight is so skewed that what they see as too skinny is actually normal. And we live in an educated, middle-class area where supposedly obesity is less of an issue. This just shows me that the problem is everywhere, and we as a nation have deluded ourselves as to what is a healthy norm. I know many obese children are made fun of and I’m sorry for that, but my son is also getting snarky comments about his weight and other parents say things to us like “come on, let him have another cupcake, he’s a kid!”, and that’s just messed up.

  • http://ibelieveinbutter.wordpress.com Soli

    Ellen, I’m REALLY wary of any product which has synthetic vitamins added to it. They usually cannot be processed by the body and in some cases can do damage. I think having some foods closer to the original state is a lot healthier, and milk is one of them. I’ve been drinking it raw for over a year a like it MUCH better.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’ve learned a lot by reading labels at the supermarket, not from the labels, but from other shoppers who come along and want to “weigh in.” What kind of coffee is safest, tastiest in iced coffee, how to make it; that was the last one. But also what to watch for in deli labels. On and on. People are glad to tell you. And the promoters offering free this or that in the markets are not the most informed source.

  • http://www.yourhealthsense.com Kim Raubenheimer

    Kids model the behaviors of their parents. If parents are active and enstill exercise as part of their lifestyle along with healthy eating, kids will tend to model that behavior as well. Eat together, prep meals together, shop for food together, exercise together.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Soli, I’m sure you’re right. My choice is partially circumstance. But I’ll note that my vitamin D level has been checked several times, during years when my only source is dried milk, and it is so high — well, it’s very high. My doctor says he’s never seen it in this culture, and what exactly do I eat?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Ann, I’m allergic to sugar and corn syrup etc (citric acid etc), and so I have noted your post about sugar substitutes before, and have you tried stevia? I believe it’s a plant, and it suits me fine. I buy it in bulk.

  • maria german

    There is a post depression mindset at work here. Get all you can while you can.Having spent the last 40+ years in food service, I see how destructive the all you can eat restaurants have been to American consumers. More is better in many situations but not food. Unfortunately, the all you can eat food businesses are largely money laundering operations and labor mills. It is an unpleasant fact that American gluttony has created a perfect foil for fraud, human trafficing, money laundering, and illegal immigration.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    The caller from Algona brings up an interesting point about childhood activity and fear. Our communities are created now such that the perception of danger from traffic or criminals/child molesters looms too large. Our communities are actually safer now than they were 35 years ago when I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s! The difference is the choices our media make to cover crime stories because it’s cheap news.

  • Abdul

    Please recommend to your listeners that they watch two documentaries regarding our diet: “Food Inc.” and “Our Daily Bread.” Obesity is a dual problem between personal choices and our subsidized agricultural industry, which promotes unhealthy, processed foods, which are cheaper than buying healthy foods. Thank you.

  • Peter

    Eat like a type one diabetic- eat/drink the sugar, feel the consequences- immediately.

  • Cathy Etheridge

    I have heard of much research recently and have seen testimonials that our lack of vitamin D is in part the culprit. One billion people people worldwide are getting insufficient vitamin D. Without vitamin D, our brain doesn’t receive the message from out stomach that we are full. Therefore, when we lack sufficient vitamin D, we are always hungry. Most of the one billion with vitamin D defficiencies, probably live in climates where it is cold in the winter. Poverty, urbanization, overpopulation and crime contribute to the problem in a unique way: many kids have limited opportunity to go out and play. Over use of sunblock is also a contributing factor in vitamin D defficiencies. So therefore, it is not only that kids are not getting enough exercise, but that kids may be getting their exercise in the wrong places. At least a half hour a day should be spent outdoors. Obese kids and adults should have their vitamin D levels checked.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I want to say something positive about all-you-can eat restaurants. I have bicycled an hour each way in order to visit an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Not every day. But sometimes it’s really great for people who aren’t buying for a whole family. You can get a lot of different fresh foods without having to buy a whole head of each kind of lettuce, for example.

  • Dr. Andrea Silva McManus

    Food and Cooking Education is needed. I am a professor at the New England Culinary Institute and see a need for education about food and cooking skills. What do your guests think about this. I don’t see this mentioned often enough in obesity prevention and treatment programs.

    I am a formely obese person.

  • Tony

    I wish people would stop using the term “over weight” and use the more accurate term “over fat”. Weight does not indicate how much body fat a person has compared to fluid and/or muscle.
    You can have two people of the same height but one has more muscle and healthy levels of fat and the other has little muscle and is over fat.
    I was a fitness instructor for 12 years and often heard individuals who were discouraged because they were not loosing weight as they firmed muscle even though they were loosing inches from reducing body fat.
    People need to also understand that food is energy and when you ingest more energy than you use up through physical activity, then fat is stored.

  • Jim

    Reduce your intake of carbohydrates (the bad kind) and you will lose weight.

  • john casserly

    another thing to consider is the influence junk foods and soda producers have in the athletic arena. as a running coach, good food choices are always in the conversation. the team will actually take a no soda during the season pledge that for a lot of kids gets them to start thinking about healthy eating habits

  • Steve T

    I had to do P.E. everyday throughout K-12 grades. There were no outside foods available. We were provided a choice of fruits or juice. You had to have a permission slip from home to buy candy at the school store until high school.

    When the school budgets got cut, in came the big franchises’ with money to place their junk in the schools.

    You have done this to yourselves.

    Where did I go to school? Whats’ now called South Central Los Angeles. class of 69

  • Ellen Dibble

    Tony, right, and the one with more muscle has tissues that burn more energy by definition. Also, older people have muscle mass that morphs into fatty tissue. One can fit the same clothes and yet seem marshmallow like underneath where before there was muscle-defined shape. With the same amount of exercise, one still becomes less muscular, needs less energy to stay even.
    When I look at children who look bulbous as late-middle-agers, I think do they fight with the feeling of being sort of fat-bound? Every ounce should be easy to mobilize, joyfully mobilized, and yet they maneuver like whales. But I note the food available from the local Food Pantry that provides after-school snacks to these kids provides foods like sugary juices and chips. So those are social service agencies, where the social-worker types are not sufficiently up on nutrition/obesity. They are happy to have the children quiet down, sit together, and eat.
    Of course food pantries collect things in boxes and cans. The supermarket has barrels labeled as such: “Canned and boxed foods, please,” “needed now more than ever.” Yeah, right.

  • bob

    Another byproduct of what our great American capitalism has become. Make as much money as you can – even if you sell something that does the middle-class enormous harm, outsource the technology jobs needed that make it efficiently, and the only thing left is low-labor jobs – the great American service industry – the backbone of our economy.

  • Angela Corbet

    Our schools are being asked to do more social policy, and that, overall, is good. But like anything else, there are only so many hours in a day and so many dollars in the budget. When you add teaching nutrition, healthy eating habits, proper exercise, and then the monitoring of these tasks, you take away from other areas of educating children.

    So part of our social policy is to recognize that public education and public educators need the training, budget, and time factors built into the school day.


  • loninappleton

    @Muriel (above)

    I agree the Robert Lustig video at you tube is a must see. Before watching the presentation given to a college audience I never read a label in my life. What I’ve found is that the high fructose problem is manufactured into nearly everything as Lustig notes. Foods you don’t suspect have the corn syrup in them (like the major brand of saltine crackers for instance.)

    Then there’s the inability to find products with simple sugars as an alternative.

    In the case of infants and children Lustig shows that the problem with these toxins starts in certain brands of children’s formula. It is insidious and, as Lustig notes, intentional.

  • DJ

    You said, “kids model the behaviors of their parents. If parents are active and enstill exercise as part of their lifestyle along with healthy eating…”

    My child saw me exercising, eating well, I shopped intelligently & cooked nutritiously. I shared thoughts & concepts about exercise, health, food, and I did it WITHOUT projecting any mania. I am NOT skinny, just sized to my weight but with big legs, so I emphasized “health” and having the energy to do the fun things you want to do, which I did do, and had us do together, tho I was often met with resistance.

    YET, my child has ALWAYS resisted all of that. I have tried to help her see how to help herself, yet she resists me. She seems to want to keep up with the men her age she knows: if they eat a lot & drink a lot, she tries to “keep up”. She dreams of that “perfect” personal trainer or “perfect” bike that will help her lose weight, but, as many times as I say it, and as gently as I suggest it, she RESISTS being THE person and THE MEANS of taking her own health into her own hands! She is a young adult, no longer at home, and it is heartbreaking to see how she just keeps gaining more and more weight. There is a gym at her workplace, yet she doesn’t use it. She lives near a bike path, yet she will NOT walk on it (she wants to lose weight on the path via that “perfect” bike even tho, in her part of the country, that will be VERY difficult). She could just exercise in her sizable living room, everyday for 20 minutes (as I did when she was growing up. I only went to the gym when she was older), but NO: she dreams of doing something “perfect” with the “perfect trainer”. This has been going on for fourteen years!!!

    ALL she has to do is believe that the answer is WITHIN HERSELF & to believe that HEALTHINESS and the FUN it provides should be the main motivating factor, and THEN that feeling that you look YOUR best will be the happy attendant. Yet, she keeps overeating, resisting counseling, resisting, resisting. I do NOT enter in TOO much, I am NOT what she is resisting. She has been this way, including not liking to play that much (!!!) since she was about SEVEN years old! Counselors made her feel really good about herself when she was going to counseling for being rude, so that her self-esteem is actually TOO high, and therefore, she is actually her OWN WORST ENEMY when it comes to her physical health AND the attendant EMOTIONAL HEALTH (AND she is still rude!)!!! She snarkily boasts that she has a boyfriend (& that I don’t), yet I have seen him restrain himself from looking at girls who are NOT overweight. In many ways, she is not being fair to him, yet he does have freedom of choice. It will be heartbreaking if he leaves for someone with more energy, health and attendant good looks. She refuses to go to counseling, but will ask for money for personal trainers who, when I did contribute once, overtrained her to the point of injury and excess beefing up, while she STILL takes no personal responsibility for portion control.

    My parents exercised healthy, energetic moderation in all that they did. I tried to pass that on as naturally as they passed it on to my sibling & me. It is NOT all the parent’s fault. And overweight children, even when they go on to being your adult children, are heartbreaking.

    (Her dad is not overweight & eats moderately in her presence & at other times. He DOES talk too much about beer in her presence, as if it were a god, yet HE does not have a drinking problem, and maybe only drinks when he is with his daughter. I have spoken with him about the fact that encouraging beer drinking, 3 beers at a time, is not the best way to help a kid you love learn to lose weight intelligently.)

    Does anyone have any insight into what is going on? WHY the resistance? Thanks!

  • Kris Charles

    Our society has become so fast food that we have forgotten about the local, fresh and organic foods around us. Everyone is in a hurry. It’s time to slow down and take a serious look at what we are eating and how we are exercising our bodies. I believe that there is too much technology available to kids and therefore they don’t go out to “play” anymore. We were never allowed to sit in and watch TV as kids. We played outside in good weather and we did things that did not require batteries or cell phones. We played kick ball and rode bikes for fun! Imagine that. Time to limit TV and games and get kids moving. Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is a great book that has inspired me to try to keep the local, fresh, organic more of a focus when thinking about the next meal.

  • Ellen Dibble

    DJ, the interpersonal dynamics parent-to-child and vice versa I will not try to address, except to say that 14 years may be long in terms of a child’s reproductive life, but some paths to growing up into one’s own best way to be are very circuitous and long.
    Someone previously in the thread mentioned that ill health across the board can be a factor. If one has drunk polluted water, breathed polluted air, eaten foods with additives, not entirely organic, there could be (there are) things in our bodies that throw off all sorts of balancing mechanisms, some of which would give signals of Eat, Eat, which from time immemorial was the way to try to get healing substances into the body. If the substances themselves are polluting (in whatever way is one’s particular problem), then eating would exacerbate the situation and not satisfy whatever the body is craving. I would expect this to have happened more where children grow up in industrial centers, and there may be gestational factors.
    And by the way, I’m definitely not a doctor. And I think medical professionals are wise enough not to say this sort of thing even in the most hypothetical sense.
    But I have tried to show why it may not be physically possible for you as mother to put yourself in your daughter’s shoes (as mothers do try to do) and see where your daughter’s at, which would be a problem for both of you.

  • PMC

    I lived for many years in Barcelona, Spain, a very walking-friendly city where everyone walks much more than they drive, reliance on prepackaged, processed, additive-laden, frozen or “fast” foods is very low and emphasis on fresh, local produce and homemade Mediterranean cooking is very high. One smart thing they do there is insist on a real meal at lunchtime, often the main meal of the day, which consists of a first course – usually a plate of seasonal vegetables – and then the second course, chicken, meat or fish.
    Just going from home to bus stop to work, I naturally walked about 30 minutes a day, I ate to my heart’s content, and was slender as a rail – as was nearly everyone else. Within two months of moving there, I lost ten pounds to achieve my ideal weight without even trying. It was rare to see ANYONE clinically overweight, much less obese, adult or child.
    Healthy eating and physical activity, and cultural norms are all key.

  • ThresherK

    So long as the government continues to provide cash money and electronic benefits cards for the poor segments of the population to purchase food, there will be no financial or economic incentive for these groups to stop purchasing unhealthy food items. You can tax the sugar, fat, and salt in these foods all you want to, and the people who have access to funds
    and moneys from the government will have no financial disincentive to stop purchasing the unhealthy food choices that they have been making that have caused them to become so fat and obese.

    So, you’ve spent a year trying to eat properly on what that money provides, at the stores so many TANF recipients are marooned near?

    You throw around the word “choice” as if everyone was like me: Driving by six mega-marts to work every day, and two farm stands. (Yay! It’s corn season!)

    I know I have it good. But I don’t just figure everyone who’s poor and obese gets to do what I do.

  • http://ncpr stillin

    When it became necessary for BOTH parents to work, you got day care raised kids, ( don’t even get me going there) and no home cooked meals from scratch. Mothers are tired. Many don’t want to start cooking from scratch, which is so healthy for us, after a long day and often a commute on top. One alternative is for them, since a lot of moms still do the majority of the meals, to cook on weekends. Who wants to do that after working all week, most don’t. I feel like the direction we have headed is not healthy for anybody. Add to that the lack of outdoor space, but handheld technology is always there for entertainment, and sadly, for “friends”. I just don’t see the value in any of this as a way of life, which is why I live very much the ” old way”, happily, and I hope my kids see in the value in my choices after I am gone!

  • jeffe

    An inexpensive meal is beans and brown rice with collard greens. You can get creative with sauces. Add a couple of tables spoons of honey to the collards with a little soy-sauce and you have a nice sauce. Instead of butter use olive oil. Or add a little butter with the oil.

    All green leafy vegetables are powerhouses of nutrients.
    Spinach has tones of iron in it and protein. Mustard greens are amazing plants and they will grow almost anywhere and you can get two or three crops. Some verities will grow until December or later in the winter. Russian Kale is a hardy green as well.

    As far as subsidized food well look at the price of soda compared to water.
    People buy easy inexpensive junk food with little or no nutrition except for empty calories that comes from sugar, fat, and salt.

    It’s interesting to here the right wing diatribe on this that keeps screaming it’s un-American to have a soda tax. Use your head(s) we as a society will be paying for the effects of bad diets in the future with increased health care costs.

  • Yar

    I listened to the show while I broke a pan full of fresh string beans. I am cooking them now. What is the earliest grade in which the kids could do the same for their lunch? The most dangerous weapon in schools is the box cutter in the school cafeteria opening all that processed food. We need to connect schools with local farmers and use the kids themselves to prepare the fresh food for their lunch. It will teach them what good food is all about. I watched a 2 year old shuck corn, how many children have no idea what corn looks like as it comes out of the field? Education should include nutrition and physical activity. When kids help prepare their own meals they get both.

    On another note scales are the wrong tool to measure obesity, measuring one’s blood sugar on a regular basis gives a much better picture on the cycle that leads to over-consumption.
    Learning how to slow the sugar high and low pendulum in your day is key to controlling weight.

    Overweight individuals should use their blood glucose levels to make better choices. It is key to understanding the hormone feedback system.

  • Peter

    I agree that a overall tax on food would be a poorly constructed idea. Let’s reduce many of the subsidies to agribusiness and send that money to local farm owners. We don’t need all of this corn syrup in our lives.

    And teaching children how to eat healthy is difficult if the parents don’t know how to cook healthy meals.

  • jeffe

    Below is an excerpt from an article in Time magazine: School Lunches in France: Nursery-School Gourmets, by Vivienne Walt.

    What this article shows me is how the French start early in developing good eating habits and table etiquette. I know people will say but it’s France blah blah blah, and I know that food for the French is a thing of national pride.

    “What does your son eat for lunch?” the woman asked after I ran in breathless. I had no idea what to say. When my son started nursery school last September at the age of 3, I had registered him for the school lunch program. But when he failed to appear in the lunchroom after that, city officials quickly took notice. My explanation — that I thought he should take a break and eat lunch at home in the middle of the day — was apparently not sufficient. This was personal.

    “The food is very good, Madame. The meat is 100% French,” the official said, picking up a brochure from her desk. I knew this brochure well, having e-mailed it to friends in the U.S. last year as a this-could-only-happen-in-France conversation piece. It lists in great detail the lunch menu for each school day over a two-month period. On Mondays, the menus are also posted on the wall outside every school in the country. The variety on the menus is astonishing: no single meal is repeated over the 32 school days in the period, and every meal includes an hors d’oeuvre, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1967060,00.html#ixzz0sRnmORAk

  • Greg Gruber

    Jane the discussion of childhood obesity was sadly lopsided. Calories in must equal calories burned. Obesity is caused by lack of exercise. Phelps while in training eats 12,000 calories a day…but he swims for seven plus hours a day.

    Michelle Obama’s program is called “lets move”. It’s focus is on burning calories consumed.

    I am disappointed that On Point did not attempt to do a more balanced discussion.

  • http://None Cory

    One problem Ive seen as a High School student is Gym. Shools make Gym required, and while its good. The kids who are overweight get made fun of, and because of this, they dont think of exercis as fun. So they dont. I realize that eating healhty food is important too, but I find this seriousThe The tT

  • Renate Riffe

    What most people don’t realize is that our entire infrastructure is set up to keep activity to a minimum. As long as most people use cars for transport (instead of mass transit plus walking), and work in sedentary jobs, maintaining a proper weight will be a chore that eats up free time after work (ditto prepping food, instead of ordering out for pizza or stopping at a fast food restaurant). Add to that, activities such as videogames encourages children to sit inside, instead of playing. The types of food available then compounds the problem. Unless we grapple with all facets of our environment contributing to obesity, we will not resolve the obesity epidemic

  • Ellen Dibble

    Suburban sprawl fed into the homeowner boom plus the fast-car boom, and then people began needing two-job families in order to sustain that lifestyle, and time began to be at a premium. So we needed faster cars in order to spend less time driving to those suburban homes. And now the economy requires the boost that car sales and single-family homes does give.
    It will be quite a shift to have sustainable communities begin to be available and a viable lifestyle choice. It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of planning, a lot of inputs.
    But if people lived close to their work, they could commute by bike, at least forgo auto travel, and they could reclaim a lot of driving time, but these people of the future would also have to spend what it takes (in money, expertise) to have the community well regulated, with open shared spaces that are not claimed by gangs, that sort of thing.
    I don’t think exercise should be encapsulated into team sports (to which the child is driven in a car by a soccer mom). It should be organic, something you can barely stop the child from doing. My mother used to say, based on her large family and the friends of her children, that girls tend to go up and down when energized (plain jumping up and down if no jumprope is handy), while boys tend to go side to side (running around “as if jet-propelled” she would say, regardless of whether say a touch football game was actually in process). And there are old home videos showing that: all the boys running this way and that; all the girls going up and down. The adults doing neither.
    But I totally agree that the American way of life militates (is that the word) against using our energies in healthy ways versus storing it in fat.

  • twenty-niner

    “Counselors made her feel really good about herself when she was going to counseling for being rude, so that her self-esteem is actually TOO high, and therefore, she is actually her OWN WORST ENEMY…”

    The self-esteem movement, more liberal claptrap. Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone gets an A, and everyone is told how great he is.

  • Dave Skaggs

    Please…. These are the same “Who will save the children?” town cryers we always here from when the government wants to controll something. They use stay at home moms to champion their cause and we all end up loosing something or paying more for it. Dont fall for this crap

  • brian

    The increase in obesity among Americans has less to do with poor nutrition and much more to do with their sedentary lifestyles–a direct result of suburban sprawl and our auto-centric culture.

  • Mary Felschow

    Our family income is $50,000 a year. We’re not rich but from early on I made choices in what I fed my kids; now 2 healthy teenagers. I stopped buying juice and began giving water. “May I have some CCW” (cold cold water) became a constant refrain in our home. I home cooked most of our meals. We still have ice cream, dark chocolate and other sweets that we all love. Moderation is key. I never tried to knock out everything unhealthy but just keep the amount down.

    Posted by Catherine Ono, on July 1st, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    This is how kids were raised in the 1950s and early 1960s. Catherine Ono is doing a fabulous job. More parents should follow this model. Note what she does: moderation, home cooking, water, healthy choices, some sweets. This is what grandma taught. But grandma is dead.

  • Bart Scholes

    So, you’ve spent a year trying to eat properly on what that money provides, at the stores so many TANF recipients are marooned near?

    You throw around the word “choice” as if everyone was like me: Driving by six mega-marts to work every day, and two farm stands. (Yay! It’s corn season!)

    I know I have it good. But I don’t just figure everyone who’s poor and obese gets to do what I do.

    Posted by ThresherK, on July 1st, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Take a look in the carts. Take a look on the shelves. There are choices if you want to make them. When someone deliberately decides to purchase cookies, cakes, chips, and candies, instead of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and whole grains, then I conclude that they have made bad choices. I shop in the stores in which the poor shop. I see what they purchase. Not oatmeal, but rather boxed highly processed sugared cereal. Not raisins and prunes, but instead cookies and cakes. I deliberately do not buy the chips, ice cream, cookies, candies, and cakes. It takes self-control and discipline. Just like most things in life. Choices. Discipline. Iron will. Purpose. Personal responsibility. No excuses. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

    Keep making excuses for the poor. Keep enabling the poor and their unhealthy choices. How come if the poor are so poor, so many of them are so obese? If I keep drinking alcohol, I will get drunk. If I keep taking drugs, I will get high. If I keep consuming too many calories, I will become obese. Stop eating the junk food. Stop depending on the statists and the government to save you from yourself and your bad choices.

  • Kelly Foster

    I do not drink pop, soda, or other sugar drinks. Too much sugar. Too many empty calories. I drink water. I drink tea. I see people’s carts loaded with sugar drinks. I see people with giant bags filed with empty pop and soda bottles. Is it any wonder that they are obese?

  • millard_fillmore

    Many good points have been mentioned by commenters.

    Let’s not forget the roles of
    a. feminist movement in making cooking a task beneath working women, and
    b. the failure of men to step up and start cooking
    in the current obesity/poor health crisis.

    If you want good, healthy food, you (or someone) will have to cook it using fresh(er) ingredients, since meal-out-of-a-box/can on a daily basis is unhealthy in the long run. Which means someone has to prepare and cook that food. Can’t get any simpler than that.

    It’s ironic that with double salaries in the household (both parents working), it’s the quality of food that has suffered. Unless that changes, I don’t see any improvement in the health of Americans.

  • homer riley

    President Fillmore said it best.

    I drive around the streets where I live and I see the retaurants loaded with customers every single day of the week. It use to be that Fridays and Saturdays were the big days for restaurants. Now they are packed every single day of the week. No one is cooking in their $70,000 state of the art kitchens with the custom wood cabinets, granite counter tops, and commercial grade appliances.

    Start cooking at home.

  • david

    Time for education:
    Calories to maintain desirable weight for average person barring any medical condition.
    * Men 2700 calories a day
    * Women 2000 calories a day
    3500 calories = 1 pound.
    This is where the rubber meets the road, personal responsibility, a dirty word for most folks.
    The more you put in, the more you pack on.
    Either limit intake or another dirty word, “EXERCISE”
    This was taught in schools many years ago, I know, my mother was a Home Economics teacher, she is 88.

    Another bit of info.
    Diet sodas contain the sweetener “ASPARTAME” In the body aspartame creates Formic acid, the same acid that the fire ant produces in his sting.

  • Phillip

    My wife has gain weight and developed diabetes since coming to the US 15 years ago. We have come to realize that the main difference between the food in the US and the rest of the world is the amount of hormones, chemical additives and mass production procedures used in this country have drastically altered the benefits of our food in unnatural ways.
    The other major difference is that we drive to every single location as apposed to walking and our zoning laws reinforce this fact.
    (Comment) We watch everything that we eat and almost nothing, including vegetables, appear to be free of unknown additives / alterations that we believe are causing our counties obesity problems.

  • Jessie Gower-Winter

    I agree with jeffe (first listener comment). I think the main culprit for obesity is HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and especially since it’s a GM product.
    Twelve years ago, when my family immigrated to the U.S.A. we were shocked to see so many unhealthy food choices. However, we have also steadily packed on the pounds, and now firmly believe it’s the HFCS which is found in so many products in the USA. This is the main difference(and possibly maybe peanuts) that we have personally found in the foods we consume now, and we have noted that we did not have HFCS in most food products in South Africa a decade ago. I’m sure HFCS has a negative impact on our liver and the way we metabolize foods.

  • MJ

    Sugar industry has high subsidies. Sugar is cheap and price has not inflated as it has for other foods.
    Take away subsidies from corn as suggested, and all sugar. It would also help reduce slave labor down near Lake Ockechobee in Florida.

  • MJ

    Crap for food. One more reason to flee a failing country. Eat real food in Europe and walk more, since they have sidewalks everywhere. Take time to eat and digest. No between meal snacks. I miss Spain and France, and expatriation sounds better every day….

  • http://www.katonahgreen.com Heather Flournoy

    Childhood obesity? It’s across all ages, but anything to do with children motivates us more to take action. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many obese children as I have in the past couple of years. It’s sad to see a 7 year old who can hardly move, already has asthma and health issues.

    This is such a complex and pervasive issue in the states. The low-nutrient density foods used to be consumed in larger %’s by low-income families, but now that marketing has accomplished it’s mission, (with our permission) it’s across all classes. So sad, recently I attended a dinner party, catered, at a very wealthy home. Being a food activist, lifelong cook, and just generally knowledgeable about real foods, I looked at the spreads and realized, slowly, in disbelief, that NOTHING that not was ‘real’. Nearly everything was created with low-nutrient density ingredients, many of them I wouldn’t label as food. This was a high-class, food-focused, dinner party. All of the members of the family were medicated for one reason or another. The mother was not obese, but worked out daily, drank lots of water, and did eat some healthier foods on her own. But she generally provided junk on demand to her family, and the children did not get much exercise. All of this just to point out that it is pervasive across class boundaries. These people have access to amazing local, organic, real foods; have the resources to get them; have the freedom to take time to walk or play outdoors; and DON’T.

  • http://Spellboundfitness.blogspot.com Ms. Stevi K. Speller, M.S.

    I am a Corporate Wellness Consultant, communicating and programming on topics such as fitensss, nutrition, stress management, tobacco cessation, etc. What ewe happened to water and milk? Before the food industry discovered how to market/ advertise sugary- beverages, we all drank water and milk. Prime example of why sugary-beverages are an addictive substance- because people are extremely defensive and feel entitled to have such sugary-poison. Egh-eghm, not to mention water is free of a price tag and calories. Whooo! Quite the win-win situation.

    Do not use the school system as an excuse for poor nutrition. Teach your children by example, what is healthy and unhealthy. Teach you children to be actve, go for daily family walks and bike rides. The family that plays together, stays together- get fit and communicate with your loved ones. I live in NYC, I have very busy and long work days. I cook all of our healthy meals for the week, under $90/ week or 2 people. Empower yourselves, dot let the American food industry rob you and kill you.


  • Mr Stone

    I’ve found that an abdominal massage curbs my craving for HFCS.

  • Valerie

    Please don’t forget that the public school systems do not promote good eating and exercise. In my son’s schools they had to eat their lunch within 15 min and the gym classes were cut because of budget issues.

  • Mary Ann Zaggy

    This is such a terribly important discussion which needs to occurr and to recurr regularly. Because our daughter was diagnosed as pre-diabetic with hypothyroidism at the age of 10, we enrolled her in a residential health/weight loss camp over the following summer. She learned at that camp how to be active, how to eat healthily, how to make halthy choices, and so much more.

    The program which her camp followed had been developed at the University of San Fransisco, and is called Shapedown, and involves not only the child but the entire family. The focus is not only on eating/not eating, but on self-esteem etc. and the roots for using food as a tool to replace other things that could make a child feel good about herself or himself. I can not go into all the details, but thi camp saved my daughter’s life. Also, this camp was not like many of the for-profit weight-loss camps which make their money out of having kids come back regularly to re-lose weight. The goal of my daughter’s camp (called Camp Jumpstart) was to get the kids to NOT need to come back to camp summer after summer.

    The people who ran (and still run, every summer) this wonderful camp, are operating on a shoestring, and they scrimp and save so as to continue to offer this camp every summer. Why shoudn’t this camp be fully funded, for all of the money they are going to be saving the health care system–and us taxpayers–every year? Not to mention the great value in improved quality of life for the kids who go to this camp and get their lives and health back??? Why should this wonderful Camp Jumpstart have to wonder every year if they will be able to continue, because of financial concerns?
    Thank you for airing my concersn
    A greatful parent,
    Mary Ann Zaggy
    St. Louis, MO

  • Pamela

    Just took my 14 year old son to the Pediatrician on Monday and learned he is in the 91st percentile for weight and his BMI is 25.0 So, the Pediatrician talked to him about more exercise (he currently plays tennis 3 days per week) and more leafy green veggies. We are an upper middle class, well educated family. I am a vegetarian and overall we cook very healthy meals. My son really doesn’t choose to eat vegetables although we have always required our kids to have a “Thank you bite” of everything. We have always limited soda pop to once per week. My son’s weight gain seems to have started as soon as he left 6th grade when he no longer had PE and recess and homework levels began to really increase. What information do you have that links childhood obesity to the increasing sedentary lifestyle that kids seem to have as they get into middle and high school because of less activity at school and more homework?

  • http://www.onpointradio.org Michael Stauffer

    Please address growth hormones in dairy, meat and poultry and
    Addictive chemicals that make people hungry for more of what was just eaten.
    Thank you for bringing up marketing,
    Even adults need education about sugars and food additives.
    Movement is so important. yet physical education is reduced in schools.
    How is it that the FDA allows dangerous non food items to be marketed as food yet they are constantly attacking vitamins food supplements which are nutrients from food?
    Now we have genetically modified foods, I like to call them Frankensteins. Just like hydrogenated oils, trans fats, we will find that the bodies will and do not recognize them and therefore will react in some dangerous way. With trans fats, the body just stores them. With GMOs it looks as though allergies and nutritional deficiencies which will compromise the immune response making us more susceptive to disease and interfere with other metabolic functioning.
    It is so many things.
    Drink water. Maybe squeeze some fresh orange juice for flavoring once in a while.

  • http://www.selfhypnosishelps.com J Ross Dock Hester, PA CH

    I’ve heard and read many useful comments, but, as a Psychiatric PA and hypnotherapist, I’ve found that a major factor is our cultural perversion of the food=fuel relationship to food=love. As in the case of the Shapedown program, helping patients and clients change their relationship to food and to themselves, combined with changing their ideas about exercise, allows them to send their body and inner mind healthy messages and positive messages that their analytic mind would otherwise reject. For instance, many of us accept criticism but disbelieve sincere compliments. Helping clients become aware of resources they may have overlooked, can make a big difference in improving muscle density and self-esteem while rebalancing the Leptin- Gherelin feedback system and decreasing Insulin resistance which, in itself, can cause weight gain. I agree that checking fasting glucose or skin-fold thickness or serum fructosamine is a better way to evaluate than simple weighing.

  • Bonnie Eckhardt

    This program made me really appreciate my day care experience. In Ingham County Michigan I used liscensed day care and they encouraged the day care to make a food plan for the week and I believe they also got a rebate on the food if they made a healthy plan. It was a little bit of a hassle for the day care to make a weekly plan however it was also an organizational tool. They even had young kids (under 5) eating salads. I wish this could be implimented elsewhere. Today my kids are grown and a healthy weight.

  • jeffe

    “Corporate Wellness Consultant”. Only in America is there a need for this kind of nonsensical job.

  • joshua

    It seems to me the fast food industry is not sustainable–with the decline of oil and the need to switch to renewable energies commercial farming, subsidy of corn and soy will give way to local organic farming and a fast food industry will not be feasible.

    A switch to small organic farming will also create jobs. Gardening, husbandry, and organic farming in conjunction with ecology classes need to be taught in public schools. it needs to be seen as a practical respectable important life choice.

    And young people will learn how the world is closely linked, where food comes from, and they will make the healthy choices…

  • http://spellboundfitness.blogspot.com Ms. Stevi K. Speller, M.S.

    I agree that our food is pumped with so many checmicals, preservatives, hormones, etc. It’s about finding a balance. When you are able to cook at home and buy organic and hormone free food do so. When you have fast food or ice cream occasionally, it’s no biggie b/c most of the time you’re eating healthy wholesome food.

    Water is less expensive than soda/juice and cooking food at home is cheaper than fast food.

    But you have to make yourself the number 1 priority in life. Sure, it can be a little inconvenient to cook or carry healthy food around with you during the day. But feeling good inside and out and knowing I am helping to prevent annoying, painful, stressful chronic diseases is my motivation. As I said, I am a career woman, working 15-16 hours a day, no matter how tired I am I cook fresh food for my family (less tan $90/week/2 ppl) b/c our health and saving money is a top priority in my life.

    Jeffe- Really?… it’s non-sensical to have someone teach health and wellness when the obesity rate and chronic disease rates are off the charts compared to 50 years ago and other countries around the world. The proof is in the numbers, I dont fabricate the health data or the return on investment.

    When your loved ones have blood cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure through the roof, dropping of heart attacks or experiecing nephropathy and blindness, unhappy with how their body feels, smoking like a chimney, and so forth– please tell me that it is non-sensical to educate people on how to live their best life and maintain their best health. If you are fortunate to NOT have to experience these issues, you are SO VERY lucky. But do not discount the people who are striving to live their best life in good health. All people deserve the choice to access such resources.

  • http://spellboundfitness.blogspot.com Ms. Stevi K. Speller, M.S.

    I agree with many comments above, that we need to be setup for success and integrate wellness into American institutions such as the school system and even the work place. Improve access to local fresh farm food, cutting the corn subsidy, in turn creating HFCS, and so forth. It’s about education and prevention not simply smacking a tax on unhealthy food.

    Re: Camp Jumpstart- Mary Ann, tha’s so wonderful that you had good experience with wellness education for your daughter. I understand your concern and it breaks my heart. I wish I could be like superman and fly all over the country servicing peoples health and wellness questions/concerns/lifestyle implementation. Research resources in your area and try to implement wellness in the home as much as possible.

    Re: Sedentary Teenage Lifestyle- Pamela, I completely understand. Growing up, I went to a challenging prep school where I could easily spend 4-5 hours a night doing homework/studying. I also grew up in a home where my parents dragged me to go for bike rides, play tennis or a fast-paced dog walks. Make physical activity a priorty in your family, like teeth brushing or paying bills. Go for walks and bike rides, join a soccer league. For teenage boys, sports is a great outlet. Get him involved in a town league if the school sports are too competitive. Even the Nintendo Wii does wonders. Lastly, be careful about the type of calories he’s eating, one can eat a 300 cal snickers in 5 minutes but it take 30 minutes to burn off. Calories in vs. calories out.

    My parents drink a wonderful tea recipe, which is healthy and inexpensive-

    Boil 2 qts water
    Steep 2 raspberry tea bags for 20 minutes
    Add fresh squeezed lemon to taste (1-2)
    Add 1-2 table spoons of agave syrup

    Be well – Stevi

  • http://beyondburnoutblog.com Tracey Marks, MD

    I hope this is the beginning of continued dialogue on this important topic. This is certainly a serious complication of our American lifestyle.

    I applaud all of the speakers but especially my cousin Chrissy. Keep doing your thing…

  • DJ

    Ellen Dibble,

    Thanks for your VERY thoughtful reply to my post. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on the varied topics on this site. I hope you’ll see this, because I was not online later in the day yesterday!

  • Ellen Dibble

    DJ, you are very welcome.
    If anyone looked at Stevi Speller M.S.’s parents’ recipe for wonderful tea, and wondered where to find agave syrup, I have a better easier one (how to say that modestly). The best summer drink I’ve ever found. I don’t know if I’d waste it on children; water is cheaper. Instant tea, caffeinated or decaffeinated, in tea bags. Skip the hot stove, skip the ice cubes. Go low-energy. Pour and wait ten minutes. It’s called Cool Brew from Celestial Seasonings, in boxes of 40 bags; I have peach, iced black tea. There is also raspberry black, and some green. Being addicted to powdered skim milk, I put that in too, and stevia, and it’s like ice cream to me. Actually, if water tastes weird to you or children, this would work just fine. Slightly flowery eggnog would be a fair comparison.
    You can dilute it a lot and keep lots of flavor. Thus making it more affordable.

  • jeffe

    Ms. Stevi K. Speller, M.S. I’m not sure what your credentials are and you don’t have any info on your blog. I see a title like this and it makes question what’s going on.

    People eat junk food because they have been conditioned to. They have access because it’s everywhere.

    Americans are obese because we lack self control and drive everwhere.

    My father suffered with this his entire adult life and he was a highly educated person. He knew he was eating to much. He did manage to control it somewhat and spent the last 20 years of his life eating a mostly vegetarian diet. However it did little to ebb his diabetes or his up and down weight problem. When he had control of his legs he worked out and was pretty fit. In the end it’s about self control and dealing with addictive issues.
    What got him was that he was diagnosed to late and the diabetes was already to advanced. They don’t call it the silent killer for nothing.

    I don’t begrudge you your gig, I just find it absurd that this is what we have come too.

    I looked at your blog from I gather your a Pilates instructor and I’m not sure what the M.S. stands for.

    My beef is that I see a lot snake oil sales people selling so called health and wellness programs for a lot of money. I don’t know if your one of them but you are advertising on the forum, so… not sure what your agenda is.

  • jeffe

    While I am an advocate for healthy eating and practice it myself it’s no guarantee of a long life and health.
    My cousin died of Ovarian cancer at age 50 and she was a vegetarian most of her life and was extremely fit.
    She was never fat, she was pretty slim her whole life.

    I here all these so called ” health gurus” on the tube talking about how to control your weight and how to have a healthy brain and this will give you a healthy life.
    Personally I don’t want to live to 90 as the longer you live the odds of having dementia go up, a lot. Sure there are some who live long and healthy lives who die in their sleep, but they are the exception not the rule. Most people die in hospitals or nursing homes.

    Of course we should all try to stay as fit as we can but the reality is our bodies were designed to get old an no amount of fish oil can stop that process.

  • Sam Wilson

    I just wonder why on our supermarket isles I dont get any choice of Museli whatsoever for breakfast.

    Why I must choose from the high sugar animated cartoon boxes containing just empty calories!

  • Ellen Dibble

    There are a few sugarless cereals, not designed for children mostly. Fiber One (“original”) from General Mills. Fiber Select (Stop & Shop brand). To me, they need all sorts of boosting, and I buy powdered Greens (veggie powder) or powdered Reds (fruits powdered) or other non-sweetened mostly soy-based nutritional powders, and put some of that on the cereal (and some water).
    Last time I went to the supermarket there was actually a kind of muesli without added sweeteners. Surprise, surprise, I’ve eaten it all up, every box. So I can’t tell you what it was. But I suspect the rising “ethnic” demand has pushed American marketers to start to go un-sweet. The Chinese I know pretty much gag at the sweetness of almost anything concocted here.

  • Sam Wilson

    I agree with you that Fiber One original and Kellogg Corn Flakes are really natural ones without any sugars and additives (not very technically though) and to make it more palatable I generally use (with corn flakes) is to add fruits in it.

    The advantage of muesli is that a lot of natural flavor and ingredients are already in there and tastes grand in the morning with a cup of milk and fruits (sorry DD, BK and MD, i choose not to obey your commands)

    the irony is that, in super markets, i do see a lot of variety in all other “artificial” cereals but so far I have seen only one place where I can buy museli (please feel free to help me here) and thats Shaw’s Low Fat muesli and thats it… and that too its mostly only me who buys it (I dont find it anywhere else nor I do see a lot of stock for it, just a few and I buy generally 5 – 6 packs at a time)

    this reminds me the contrast of the supermarkets in Ireland (Aldi, Tesco, Lidl, Dunnes) there are loads and loads of museli, may be its just the culture.. I dont know.

  • Theresa

    I live in Germany now, and while the median weight is lower than in the US, it is too simple to assume that the Europeans are somehow more enlightened or something. Yes, they walk more. And, when they are overweight they are overweight less extremely. But, they still suffer from diabetes, one of those expensive chronic condition. (You should see the Danish?! They are chunky.)

    So I doubt that it is the moral superiority of the Europeans or even better education or even the walking (aka Danish. They do not bike as much as they are advertised.) But, because their society is shaped differently than ours and because their television is subsidized, there is few commercials for foods. Unlike the US, where the constant drone of fast food commercials primes one for unreasonable eating, the Germans and the Danish, at least, have almost no ads compared to Americans. Yes, there is some but not much at all.

    So did they plan the public subsidized tv that way? no it was just one consequence of having less of a commercialized society.

  • Theresa

    And, my mother cooked all our meals, despite having a full time job. We always ate dinner together. And when I went away to college, I ate the cafeteria food and gained the freshman 15.

    Now that I live on my own and entirely too lazy to cook, I find that I cannot eat the processed food or fast food for one than one meal because I feel queasy, so I end up eating raw vegetables or something.

    So taste as a general orientation is not something that children choose, it is socialized by the simple act of what the parents like.

  • Michael

    A McDonald’s in my hometown is building an even bigger eatery next door to the original. The World is Fat is a 2008 book by an authority on food and nutrition. A Biblical scholar noticed how the amount of food on the table of The Last Supper has gotten larger by each successive artist! The women in my life have all been slender and devoid of any eating disorders that I know of. None drink sugar laden drinks or drink alcohol in excess. Exercise. Walking around the block with a dog–all are condusive to normal healthy weight.

  • Michele R.

    I agree with John, we need to stop subsidizing corn. It is in EVERYTHING we eat. Cows are fed corn, chickens are fed corn, pigs are fed corn, even some farm raised fish get a variation of corn. Then it’s consumed in the form of sugar and then as a whole veg/fruit itself. Talk about a single source diet. It’s scary when you start to think about how prevalent corn is in the American diet.

  • peter nelson

    Soda and prepared dry cereals are not cheap. It’s hard to see how that figures, if cheap food is fattening food. Which food exactly?>/i>

    They’re cheap compared to the healthy alternatives.

    When I or my wife and shop we spend most of our time in the produce aisle. After that we get dried beans and grains, fish, meat and poultry, and maybe some cheese or eggs.

    On a per-calorie basis I’m sure we spend WAY more than what people who buy high-calories, high fructose corn syrup, processed, packaged foods pay. I don’t think it’s even close.

    Real fruits and vegetables require special handling; they have a high loss rate, they have high water content, and they have a very short shelf life. So they cost dramatically more than robotically cut, freeze-dried, chemically preserved tomato or carrot or celery bits mixed with modified food starch and hydrolized broth in a plastic food packet that could survive a nuclear winter.

    If you want to eat healthy you better have money.

    Healthy lifestyles are expensive, too. My goal is to run in a 5K or a 10K every weekend this summer (and practice on the days between) Last weekend I ran the Patriot Place 10K; this Sunday the “Take the Lake” run in Wakefield. If yer 57 you better have good quality running shoes to mimimize injury; that plus the entrance fees start to add up to real money! Being a couch potato is cheaper.

  • scott l

    As far as I can tell, there is no monetary incentive to improve public health. Overall, it would cost more to have everyone healthy and living long lives supported by social security and medicare than to let people be unhealthy and die at younger ages. Sadly, I believe this is why there is no large concerted effort to improve public health, reduce childhood obesity, etc.

    The answer to childhood obesity is obvious; more exercise and better foods. Infrastructure could be improved to make this possible (bike paths to schools, adequate public parks and so forth).

    What about subsidizing fruits and vegetables?

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