I’m not normally one to jump up on a soapbox when it comes to obesity and America. I have my views, but I rarely feel the need to share them in public or with perfect strangers…..
Yesterday was an exception.
I came this (.) close to lecturing this woman in front of me at the grocery store. She was a few inches shorter than me and about the same build, so I’d guess she was 250 or so. She was well-dressed and nice to chit-chat with as we were waiting to check out. Then I noticed her daughter. She was about 7 and she was a BIG girl (probably 100 pounds or close to it). It made me so sad. Her outfit was too small, and you could see little rolls on her arms and her back. She DESPERATELY wanted Mom’s attention…and Mom was ignoring her. She danced, she sang, she tugged on Mom’s pants…nothing. But then, her reward for “being good in line”? A candy bar. A GIANT candy bar.
I wanted to scream: “PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KID AND STOP FEEDING HER CRAP!!!”
The whole scene made me so sad. I kept fast-forwarding 10 years in my head. The girl would be 17 and have an awful relationship with food. It will be her crutch, her go-to when she needs to feel better. She would mask her feelings with food and resent her mother for not paying attention to her.
Now maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe this Mom was just having an off day, but if so how could her 7-year-old weigh nearly 100 pounds?! Sigh. I’m not a mom, I have no idea how hard it must be to balance work life, social life and a family….but I do not that giving your kids food-related rewards isn’t the way to build a happy, healthy child.
It reminded me of my friend Molly who would bring her daughter to work on occasion. Molly’s daughter was short, and overweight by the age of 6. Molly left the company I work at now, but I ran into her and her daughter about a year ago. Her daughter was 11 and had asthma, juvenile diabetes and she actually had trouble walking! It broke my heart. This was clearly caused from overeating and choosing TV over physical activity…how could anyone let that happen!? Sadly it seems that more and more kids are “obese” at a ridiculously young age.
Now, I’ve mentioned before I was heavy as a child. But, I wasn’t neglected by my parents, or pacified with candy. I was a crafty little kid, I knew where the food was and I knew how to steal it! In hindsight nearly all my memories from elementary school have a food association! I wish I could go back in time and tell my 8-year-old self that food wouldn’t make kids at school be less mean….it would just make things harder in the long run. I wish I could have told that little girl in the grocery store to choose strawberries over candy, and that she was beautiful. Part of me wishes I had said something, but really it wasn’t my place.
Does anyone else have a knee-jerk reaction when they see obese kids? Did anyone else catch this article? (For the record I think the concept is ludicrous. The problem isn’t going to be solved by shipping kids off to foster home, it’s going to be solved by educating kids and parents on healthy choices!). When I have kids I really want to impress healthy options upon them in both food choices and exercise. I think when I was in school no one really understood the long-term effects of eating processed crap and having gym once a week. Now-a-days we as a nation are much more aware of the calories in/calories out model.
What do you guys think? For those of you with kids or who work with kids do you teach them how to live healthier?