Are Parents Responsible For Making Our Kids Heavy?

We’ve all heard of the rising obesity rate in children…it’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. It’s actually rising in adults and teens but let’s just talk about children, too young to drive.

If a child is too young to drive, where do they get the source of their food? It has to be from the parent bringing the food into the home, right?

It’s The School System’s Fault! No, it’s not! Yes, it is! No, it’s not!

I’ve read numerous articles on this and find that some parents blame the schools for serving unhealthy lunches. But then there’s the parents who DON’T want anyone dictating what is served in the schools. My thought is that they can’t possibly be eating that much at lunch because they don’t have that long of a lunch period -- especially after standing in line -- so we can’t put all the blame on schools.

I myself was heavy from third grade to the year I graduated from high school and I remember what it was like to be teased about my weight. And when I got older, I did question my mom as to why she didn’t encourage me to eat healthier or lose weight and her response was, she didn’t think of me as fat or even questioned that I might be unhappy (I was good at putting on a smile and having a “great” personality.)

Food as Reward/Pacifier

I personally know of a lot of children who get treats or snacks (not healthy ones) when they behave, need to be bribed, spend time with divorced parents (who treat them to a special occasion), or just when the parent wants them to be quiet. I don’t think it’s wrong to occasionally go to McDonald’s or some other fast food place…an occasional Happy Meal isn’t what makes children heavy…eating it two to four times a week will though. Eating M&M’s every once in a while isn’t going to make them heavy either.

Lack of exercise, eating too much fast food, not eating fruits and vegetables (and learning to LIKE them), and not learning other ways of coping (eating under stress, when you’re sad, when you’re angry, etc.)…and aren’t the parents the ones who teach their children nutrition and healthy lifestyles?

Healthy Food Costs Too Much

I’ve also read a lot of comments where parents who have heavy or obese children say that it’s because healthy food costs too much…I’m sorry but a baked potato cost less than a candy bar. You can get any type of “greens” for the same price as a soft drink. A serving of mac and cheese with a vegetable isn’t going to cost more than a burger and is still healthier.

Parental Examples/Excuses

Are we, as parents, lazier than our own parents were? Overworked? Do we spend more time inside than outside, thus teaching by example to be more sedentary? Sure, some people do have genetic issues but the friends I have had in the past who have been more than 50 pounds overweight and said they had a thyroid problem had never actually had their thyroid tested.

My husband says I get “riled up” about this topic and I do, because once again, I remember being the “fat” kid in class and it wasn’t fun! No matter how big my smile was or loud my laugh was.

I’m not saying I’m a perfect parent but I introduced vegetables way before my son ever had a taste of sugar. We ordered salads at McDonald’s along with a small burger. Sodas weren’t in the fridge and if I made something for dinner, at least one bite had to be taken and I didn’t make something different for everyone. When my son was 2 and 3 and wouldn’t eat, our pediatrician said he’d eat when he got hungry enough to and wouldn’t starve. And he didn’t have to clean his plate! We didn’t have a dessert every evening and he was made to go out and play…there was a limit on TV and video time. And if he didn’t like it and threw a fit, he went to his room and I went to mine (because by then we both needed a “time out”. Was it easy? Heck no! Did I give in occasionally? YES! But not on a regular basis. We set our children up from an early age as to what is acceptable and what’s not.

I certainly don’t think parents are “responsible” for how all children turn out. We all read of how parents who do everything “right’, still have children who stray and end up in trouble or worse. But if we teach them at an early age, won’t they have better skills in managing their weight as they get older? And once you become an adult with a life-time of unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise, it’s harder to lose it.

So, if our children are getting heavier and the obesity rate is rising…who/what is responsible? What do you think?

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