Childhood Obesity in America : The Words of the Children

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to educate people on how to make healthy lifestyle choices. One of the ways I do this is by spreading awareness about health issues that effect people every day.

We are all familiar with the childhood obesity epidemic. Approximately one out of every five children in America is overweight or obese. Some people blame it on the fast food industry. Others say that kids are not getting enough exercise and are sitting in front of computers, televisions and video games too long. Still others say that the food that our kids eat at school is to blame.

I don’t think any of what I mentioned above is the complete reason behind the epidemic. After reading the book, “Overweight What Kids Say,” by Dr. Robert A. Pretlow I concluded that there really is evidence that my theory is accurate. The Introduction states: “This book is about nearly 134,000 messages written by kids on an open access, interactive website for overweight teens and preteens, ( and during the period from 2000-2010. with commentary and suggestions offered by the author. This book presents what kids say about being overweight in their own words – their difficult lives, their striking struggles to lose weight, and their precious success stories.”

I have always believed that in order to make an impact on the obesity problem in the United States it first has to begin in the home. Parents need to be educated on how to make healthy choices and then in turn pass on that information to their children. Some excuses a lot of parents make are,

“I am too busy to cook healthy foods,” A lot of parents think that due to their busy lifestyle they must purchase fast food for their family. Dr. Pretlow points out in chapter one, “But would parents actually allow their kids to become obese with health risks, self-esteem problems, etc., just so the parents may save time?” Would you let that happen to your children, or would you do something about it?

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Another excuse pointed out in this book is, “I can’t afford healthy food for my family.” One of the popular theories behind the obesity epidemic is that poor people can not afford to purchase healthy food so they eat junk and fast food and become overweight. I agree that this can lead to obesity but it is not the main factor. If these people are educated then they will know how to make better choices. Dr. Pretlow’s reply to this argument, “…if these theories are true, when poorer people become wealthy, wouldn’t it be expected that they would then buy and eat healthy foods and attain healthy weights? For example, what about Native American tribes, who become wealthy from casinos on their tribal lands? I visited two such tribes near Seattle, several years after they had begun reaping huge profits from their casinos. The tribal members still ate the same high-calorie native ‘comfort foods,’ such as ‘fry bread,’ and had just as much problem with obesity as before they became wealthy.”

I have always believed that educating people on how to make healthier lifestyle changes will eventually put a dent into the obesity epidemic. But what lifestyle changes do people need to learn more about?

The government bombards us with information on what foods we should eat and how often we should exercise. Based on the information provided by obese children in a poll conducted by Dr. Pretlow, kids today are not looking for that kind of information. They would rather learn more on how to resist cravings.

Sixty-two percent of the kids polled stated that they learned about healthy eating in schools. Their lack of knowledge on healthy eating may not be a cause of the childhood obesity epidemic. Then, what is?

If you want to know the truth behind childhood obesity you must go right to the source, the children suffering from it. As parents we want our kids to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. If your child is overweight or obese what can you do about it?

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In Chapter 5, Dr. Pretlow explains what obese children want their parents to do to help them.

“Nagging is counterproductive.

“…My mom said to me today, ‘…if you just lost some weight, you’d be drop-dead-gorgeous.’ Comments like that don’t help one’s self-esteem. So talk to your parents about it, tell them you want to lose weight, and that comments like that make you feel insecure…”

“Really, parents. Yelling, threatening, and punishing your kids over their weight and eating habits…is just gonna push kiddo away and piss them off, too eat even MORE. A calm and rational approach…concern over kiddo’s health, and happiness…is always best. And eventually your young one will wake up to the realization that SOMETHING about all the weight must be done, and he/she will begin to take the matter seriously…”

A lot of children don’t think that they can talk to their parents about their weight. They are lacking the support that they need from the most important people in their lives. If you have an obese teen please let him or her know that you are there for your child and he can talk to you about anything. Some of the kids on the website stated that their parents don’t provide healthy foods for them. A lot of the kids that used Dr. Pretlow’s website hid the site from their parents. These children have also stated that their parents are enabling them to become overweight by feeding them junk at an early age and not listening when when they’ve asked if they can join a gym or see a weight loss doctor or dietitian. Most of the kids involved also stated that their parents are also obese and are choosing not to attempt to lose weight, which is hurting their weight loss efforts.

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Having parental role models is very important for teens trying to lose weight. How can parents be positive roll models? Dr. Pretlow states,

” Actively talking about healthy eating as a family, researching and learning about healthy foods, planning menus together, shopping together, cooking together, eating family meals together at home, and doing activities together are ways for parents to be role models for their kids. In order to help their kids, parents must look at the reasons they overeat themselves. Fast food and junk food are very tempting, and parents as well as kids can get hooked on comfort eating and stress eating. Learning how to cope with life, without seeking comfort in food, is a skill which kids learn from their parents.”

If you are concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic or you have a child who is overweight or obese you must read, “Overweight What Kids Say.” After reading this book you will see this issue from a whole new perspective. Dr. Pretlow’s research from his website is revolutionary and will open your eyes. Not only does this book present facts directly from the source, it also has solutions for families dealing with obesity. This is a must-read for all parents who would like some advice from a pediatrician who has been working closely with the children suffering from obesity for ten years.

You can purchase Overweight: What Kids Say: What’s Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic for $11.10 on It is also available in all major bookstores.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of Overweight: What Kids Say: What’s Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic from Dr. Robert Pretlow in exchange for this review. All opinions are accurate and 100% mine.

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  • AK , August 24, 2010

    Totally agree on the nagging, doesn't get anywhere (with kids or husbands, I've learned!). Often does opposite!
    Good words on this post!!

  • Wahzat Gayle , August 24, 2010

    I have always thought that the parents had more of a say in the child's condition of obesity. It is because of my niece though not yet obese that I have realized that her mother's passive aggressive stance on her weight has it a greater issue in my niece's mind and she has no confidence. Good post.
    Thanks for your comments on my blog by the way.

  • Muthering Heights , August 25, 2010

    This is just so sad!

  • Jo&apos;s Health Corner , August 31, 2010

    Education is the key. People need to understand the consequencies of the food they feed their children. It is possible to eat decently on a small budget and limited time..

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