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Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, the pediatric blog that gives parents practical, portable pediatrics on their time framework. I am Dr. Paul Smolen, your pedcast host. Today, I am going to bring you a different type of pedcast. Usually I try to bring you mostly factual information about a pediatric topic sprinkled with some observation from my doctor chair along with a few opinions. Not today… this is going to be “pure opinion.” I am going to get a little preachy about a topic that I feel very strongly about… childhood obesity. I am not going to candy coat the message; it’s coming straight at you like a fastball over home plate… straight and fast. So sit back and listen. Hopefully the message will come through clearly.
Oh boy, do we have our work cut out for ourselves. The obesity epidemic shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Processed foods crept into the American landscape during the 20th century slowly but surely, one soda and sweet cereal at a time. Food companies saw new markets, and they met the need. They created new foods faster than your great-grandmother could darn your parents’ socks. We became enamored by easy, fast, and satisfying. Boy have we paid a price for all this “innovation.” Yes, nutrition on the fly let us spend less time shopping and preparing, but it also has made heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension a way of life in the western world. What I read says these maladies are all about lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle, not genes, genes, genes. What I find ironic is that for all the money we spend on antihypertensive medicines, cholesterol lowering drugs, and insulin for our diabetics, we could probably buy groceries for every American. One of the saddest things about my job is that I see many children who have never been and probably will never be in good physical or nutritional condition. I fear that these children will become adults thinking that good food is a side salad with their value meal at the drive thru and exercise is walking to the store to get a candy bar. What will they provide for their children when they become parents? Less than optimal food, I suspect, and little activity. They won’t know any better… and the cycle continues. It’s easy to eat junky processed food and it’s hard to buy, cook and serve real food. Providing wholesome food is one of the most important parenting tasks facing parents.
So how are we going to get ourselves out of this nutritional mess we have created? Here is what I suggest: Start by teaching your children the difference between whole food and processed foods…and repeat the message often until they get it! Make sure you are setting a good example of eating for your children by eating the way your grandmother would have wished you would. Make it a priority to have as many family meals as possible with real food. If you have the space, plant a small garden and involve your children in cultivating vegetables. Get your children involved with the shopping and cooking process; it’s fun and you will cherish the time you spend together in the kitchen someday…I promise. Vow to get all the sweet drinks out of everyone in your families diet…no soda, no sports drinks, no sweet tea, no energy drinks, no calorie laden coffee drinks. Limit fast food to no more than once a week… No, make that “eating out anywhere” no more than once a week. And finally, lets stop making every holiday a candy fest, every fund raiser a chance to sell sweets, every celebration a gluttonous festival of food, every sporting event a sugary slurry of drinks, and every accomplishment rewarded by something to be consumed. We can find other ways of saying good job without insulin levels off the scale. Let’s start paying more attention to what children need rather than what they want. Only then will we get it right. Well, thanks for joining me today. I feel better getting all that off my chest. Who knows, maybe I will inspire a few people to make some big life changes. I always welcome comments from my listeners. To comment, leave your thoughts on Facebook, iTunes or at my website, www.docsmo.com. Who knows, you might see them in print. This is Dr. Paul Smolen, thinking it would really dandy if our children got less candy. Until next time.