Inoculate Your Child Against Childhood Obesity. Here’s How.

Research science has identified a new drug that increases the odds that children do not grow up to suffer from childhood obesity. This is an oral medication that must be taken daily, with meals, and administered by the parent. 

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And what parent wouldn’t want to provide this medication, which also has been shown to increase teen’s nutrient status (from a study of over 4700 middle school kids in the Minneapolis area)? 

Side effects include better grades and less risky behavior (such as alcohol use, tobacco use, marijuana use, sexual activity, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, violence and delinquency, school-related issues, and general well-being). 

What is this miracle med that improves behavior and helps prevent childhood obesity at the same time? 

It’s called the family meal. Kids that simply eat with their family are less likely to grow up to be obese. 

Of course, there are some caveats (there always are). Positive outcomes are more likely when the environment includes “warmth, group enjoyment, parental positive reinforcement with conversation.”  

Also it turns out to matter whether the TV is on or not. In one study, roughly 1/3 of the teens watched TV while eating their family meals. The others ate at the table with their parents, sans electronics. Those who ate with their family and you know, talked with each other, ate healthier foods. 

The authors conclude that “Feasible ways to increase the frequency of family meals should be explored with adolescents and their families.” No kidding. 

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My Interview w Michelle Bernard (who is awesome)

This interview was from this past Saturday. I really enjoyed talking to Michelle about family, food, childhood obesity, and whether we should regulate foods and restaurants and stuff.  

Let me know your thoughts on this interview!!

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How To Prevent Childhood Obesity? Remember What You Have Forgotten

Get this. The calories that kids eat away from home has increased from 23.4 percent to 33.9 percent between 1977 and 2006.

Those take-out foods are high in sugar and salt and synthetics and, oh yeah, calories. 

“We found that … kids eat an increasing number of calories outside the home,” said study author Jennifer Poti, from the university’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Eating outside the home is actually fueling the increased energy intake for kids.”

Ya think? 

Remember What We Have Forgotten

As a culture: 
  • We used to cook more at home. 
  • We used to eat together as a family at home. 
  • We used to not be so fat and unhealthy all the time. 
In fact, eating out increases the volume consumed, the salt consumed, the sugars consumed. 

Here are the study data (pubbed in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association).

29,217 U.S. children aged 2 to 18 took part in surveys of food intake, between 1977 and 2006. 
The researchers found that the number of calories children got from foods eaten away from home increased significantly. In fact, the percentage of calories children got from fast food was greater than those they got at school.
Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said that “in our fast-paced, time-challenged world, parents are convinced that it is easier and less expensive to eat take-out, fast food and in restaurants.”

But who buys that? 
I don’t know — and I know I will get some people to defend their inability to make food for their families … or even defend their inability to purchase decent foods — but it seems like there is a choice being made. The choice to make your food at home; the choice to make family time a commitment.  

We cannot control where these eateries are located or how they prepare their foods, but we can decide to cook more at home, which will ultimately save money and help keep our families healthy,” Heller said.

The Typical Whine
It’s too expensive …. Although it appears a take-out meal for $4.99 is a great deal, one would actually save money by going to the store buying chicken breasts, vegetables, whole grain pasta, bread and sauce. 

You would have a healthy dinner and leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and probably enough left to reinvent dinner by using the remaining ingredients in a salad, frittata or burrito,” she added.

For less than $30, you can buy enough food for several meals including chicken breast, mushrooms, broccoli, pasta, lettuce, bread, eggs, tomato sauce and salad dressing,” Heller said. A family of four can spend that much easily for just one meal each for take-out and fast food. Planning the week’s meals ahead will make home cooking easier, faster, and cost-efficient. More importantly, research suggests that family meals enhance the health and well-being of children on many levels,” she said.

Bottom Line

It’s about personal responsibility, and our ability to set our own priorities and schedules. There is “health in the hearth”. Make your own food at home. We used to do this when we were healthy and these are the cultural habits that we need to remember to make dent in the chronic weight and health issues of our children. 

More Kids Eating Calorie-Packed Take-out Food –

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McDonald’s Makes Me Grumpy For A Very Weird Reason

The McDonald’s Happy Meal (I’ve also heard it expressed as the Micky D’s Crappy Meal, but that’s another subject … ahem). 

I think this product and that company both have a definite image problem, and want to avoid looking like they are feeding the problem of childhood obesity (pun only partially intended). 

YES, they are marketing to children with a decidedly creepy clown. YES, they have toys in their Meal-Deals to induce children to nag their parents into submission …. They’re okay with THAT, they just don’t want to be seen as contributing to childhood obesity. 

So What Is McDonald’s Doing About It?
McDonald’s announced today (June 26) that it will automatically include both produce AND french fries in every Happy Meal, meaning parents and kids no longer have to opt for either fries or fruit.
And because produce will be included in all Happy Meals, french fry-holder sizes will get smaller — from 2.4 to 1.1 ounces, this according to ABC News.

Kind of a Bummer
This is a totally awesome thing to do for kids … to just make fruit more ubiquitous in their favorite meal. LOVE that. So what’s the problem?

McDonalds is such a great bad guy to rail against — the symbol of the darth vader evil empire of food and fatness. And now they’ve gone and done something good for kids with this initiative … dang, now I have to talk sweet about them! 

It’s not just apples, either
Apples will be the main produce option, but other McDonald’s may offer carrots, pineapple slices, raisins or mandarin oranges depending on the region and time of the year, according to ABC News. Heck, you can even replace the french fries with MORE fruit. 
PLUS, in addition to the Happy Meal fruit makeover, the Empire also plans to reduce sodium in all of its menu items by 15 percent by 2015. 

Grrrr … this is a great thing!! The idea of praising a company like McDonalds makes you want to wash yourself off — hose yourself off. But whatever their motivations, these are three really good steps toward healthier choices for our children.  

McDonald’s Happy Meals To Get Less Fries, More Fruit

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Should Gov Be Able To “Repossess” Obese Children?

Unbelievable. This Boston area pediatrician wrote that the State should be able to swoop in and take a child away from their parents and put that child into foster care … if that child is obese.

CLICK HERE to see the article that the Journal of the American Medical Association has made available for free for a week.  the He has  

In this article, the baby doc tries to walk back his opinion that we should be able to repossess people’s children when they are too fat, by saying that we shouldn’t freak out … but when kids are too fat, and nothing else works, they should be taken away from their parents. 

This effectively puts “childhood obesity” into the category of “abuse“. 

But hey, doesn’t that mean that adult obesity of also a form of abuse? Like self-abuse? Doesn’t that mean that this self-inflicted condition should be treated as a form of mental instability? 

I know, I know, I’m gleefully sliding down the slippery slope of “reductio ad absurdum“, but since this pediatrician started an absurd commentary with an absurd solution, I figured that I was in good company.   

Of course, the whole notion is just silly and will quickly go away … in the mean time, realistic approaches to fix childhood obesity should be what we focus on. However, I think the reason we see crazy proposals like these is precisely because we have run out of options and just don’t have any solid solutions on the table. 

U.S. pediatrician feels heat over child obesity idea | Reuters

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With Obesity, We Have A PR Problem (Personal Responsibility, that is)

From Reuters: 

Scientists have found that a gene linked to diabetes and cholesterol is a “master switch” that controls other genes found in fat in the body, and say it should help in the search for treatments for obesity-related diseases.

From Will:
Common sense has discovered that obesity is self-inflicted, and there is a “master switch” that causes 95% of all obesity. This new master switch is a breakthrough in health and is called, behavior. Will says that this crazy new finding should be helpful in reversing obesity, and the parade of metabolic problems that it produces. 

The bottom line to our Bottom Lines is this: 
When we eat poorly in quality, and quantity, this eating pattern produces health problems. The solution to the problem is NOT to invent a biological workaround by manipulating your genes. How crazy is that?   

I think this line of research is popular because it feeds the idea that we are not responsible for obesity. It’s not us … really. It’s something other than the food decisions I have made — and your genes represent a perfect scapegoat to let us pass the biological buck. 

Not all obesity is self-inflicted. One estimate I read pinned the number at about 5% — that is, about 5% of the population can attribute their overweight/obesity to causes outside their behavior. Not their fault. For the rest of us? Big broad middle of that bell curve of people of adiposity? We did it to ourselves by eating FAUX foods, and eating too much. 

The solution to a behavioral problem is a behavioral solution.    

Scientists find master switch gene for obesity | Reuters

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Low-fat dairy doesn’t help kids drop pounds: study | Reuters

Kids who swap out regular dairy products for low-fat varieties consume less saturated fat but don’t seem to lose weight, according to Australian researchers.

They found neither weight nor body mass index (BMI) had changed noticeably six months after children switched to low- or reduced-fat dairy products.

Instead of trimming their waistlines, kids who slashed fat intake appeared to compensate by eating more calories from other sources, according to the new findings, which appear in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Still, there might be other benefits to cutting back on saturated fat, said Dr. Frank Franklin, a retired professor of nutrition and pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who was not involved in the study.

For instance, it might help kids stave off heart disease as they grow up, Franklin told Reuters Health.

For the study, Gilly Hendrie and Rebecca Golley of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization divided 145 kids ages four to 13 into two groups. The researchers asked one group to replace their dairy products with low-fat varieties for six months, while the other got no dietary advice.

Low-fat dairy doesn’t help kids drop pounds: study | Reuters

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Is Sarah Palin A “Fruit Loop”?: VIDEO

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver called Sarah Palin a “Froot Loop” for criticizing the Obama administration’s healthy eating initiatives, and said getting healthy foods to kids is a civil rights issue.
The U.S. is in a “really dark moment” when it comes to children’s health and needs to make it a priority, said Oliver, who tried to transform the diets of a West Virginia town with his 2010 ABC show “Jamie’s Food Revolution” and is filming a new version in Los Angeles.
I’ve said this before … you won’t know my political views, but I can say that, on this issue, Sarah Palin is NOT a fruit loop. I don’t know what kind of breakfast cereal she actually is … perhaps Lucky Charms for the Tea Party, or Sugar Smacks for the guys, or Corn Flakes for the Iowans who don’t happen to like her. 
Oliver’s complaint suggests that Mrs Palin is nutty, but I don’t believe she’s crazy at all. Rather, she is just being, plain old political. Not as sexy as saying she’s a right wing nut job, but it’s closer to the truth. 
Here’s why I say that. 
She makes the argument that the gov and the First Lady of the US should not stand up to be role models, or initiate programs, to benefit our children, whatever the cause. But the First Lady Laura Bush initiated a slew of programs, endowments and, yes, government, government, government grants to incentivize us to encourage our children to read more. Who in this world thinks THAT is a bad thing? Mrs Palin seems just fine with that “government intrusion”.
Moreover, Mrs Bush did exactly what Mrs Obama is doing now, without anyone blubbering about undo gov intrusion. For example, where was Sarah Palin when Mrs Bush founded the Action For Healthy Kids organization, whose mission it is to influence our PUBLIC SCHOOLS so that we can begin to reverse childhood obesity? Can you imagine the outcry from the barking right if Michelle Obama had done the exact same thing? 
Look. Being a role model is a good thing, whether you are a Priest, a Teacher, a Parent, or the First Lady of the US. It’s a good thing! And, if you look at the historical comparisons of the last two First Ladies, it is clear that the criticisms of Mrs Obama are NOT be about what happened … they are all about tearing down this person and her initiatives because (this time) the attempts to help American children are coming from someone who has a ‘D’ following their name, rather than an ‘R’. 
Thus, the data show that Sarah Palin is not a Fruit Loop at all. She’s someone who is arguing against the health of our children because it doesn’t suit her politics. She is better than that and it is disheartening to see her slide into such moral mediocrity.  
Will Clower

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