Rant with Randi: Childhood obesity: Stop the shame game

Randi Crawford
Randi Crawford

By Randi Crawford

How often have you heard people talking about “childhood obesity?”  The most recent stat I’ve read is that one out of  five kids struggle with it.  And just this week a California ad agency is under fire for photoshopping a little girl who is drinking from a milk carton to a 20-pound heavier version of herself, sucking sugar directly from the bag.  Really?  That’s just repulsive in so many ways.

I understand that we have a problem, and that it needs to be addressed, but shaming kids into losing weight is disgusting.  No child wants to be overweight.  We all know the implications that come with “not fitting in,” but shame is not the way to deal with this issue people!  It’s hard for me to digest that grown adults think this is OK?

Most people whose kids need to lose a few pounds all have the same question on their mind:  How do I deal with this issue delicately, so that I don’t ruin the self-confidence of my child, but I help them understand the importance of being healthy? We don’t want to teach our kids that in order to have friends, they need to be thin. We want them to understand the value of being healthy and how that will impact them throughout their entire life.

I had a friend who put her 13-year-old on Weight Watchers (WW) and you can’t believe the backlash she received from her friends.  People were appalled with her decision, which just makes no sense to me. Her daughter wanted to lose about 10 pounds to feel better about herself and she asked her mom to help her.   Her daughter didn’t attend WW meetings, or eat the WW foods – she simply had the WW app on her iPhone, and was able to keep track of her “daily points” which gave her an idea of how much junk she was eating throughout the day.  I see

nothing

wrong with this approach.  In fact, I think it’s a great way to help kids understand the value of making healthy choices vs. taking the easy choice. Specifically, grabbing a bag of chips and a juice box versus a cutting up an apple and spreading it with peanut butter, and adding bottle of water.

I grew up eating family dinners every night with my parents (that’s an entirely different rant), but my mom baked us something delicious for dessert every single day (thanks mom, now I’m addicted to having something sweet every time I eat dinner or I feel like something is missing)!  So it begs the question:  What is different today that we have such a problem with childhood obesity?

In my mom brain, here is what I come up with:  Pre-packaged processed food with lots of sugar and easy accessibility, and lack of physical activity due to TV, computers and video games.  I use Tivo as an example, because our kids don’t even have to get up to change a channel, or wait during commercials where they could get up and move around – instead they fast forward with the remote control and they are instantly gratified.  I’m not going to blame the developers of technology, because it’s the parents who are supplying them.  I watched a segment on the news about people complaining because “big food companies” are placing junk food where kids can easily grab it.  Hello, whatever happened to parenting and telling your kids “No!”  It’s always someone else’s fault – how about we accept the responsibility?

Nobody loves technology as much as I do.  I just saw the new Apple iOS 7 and I’m dying to get my greedy paws on it.  I’ve played video games with my kids, and the technology is unreal. The visual effects blow me away.  But at some point, enough has to be enough.  We (parents) cannot keep blaming other people for our own mistakes.  If we really want to tackle this problem of childhood obesity, it’s real simple.  Stop the shame game and get back to basics:

•If you don’t want them to eat it, don’t buy it.

•Limit the time spent on the video games, computers and television.

Any questions? Please email me at www.randicccrawford.com

   
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