Tag Archives: Fast Food

Fast Food: More bad news (Article)

It is common knowledge that fast food is not good for our children’s health. Recent research confirms what we already knew: an extensive new study correlates consumption of fast food with a child’s increased chance of developing asthma and allergies. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood surveyed nearly half a million six- and seven-year-olds and thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds across 31 and 51 countries, respectively. The study found that teenagers who consume fast food more than three times a week are 40% more likely to develop asthma, while children aged six or seven who also eat fast food more than three times a week are 27% more likely to suffer from asthma. Additionally, both the six- and seven-year-olds and teenagers who frequently dined on fast food suffered from increased frequency of food allergies, eczema, and allergic rhinitis (hay fever).

Clearly, the researchers have provided us with valuable information, but much more work needs to be done to confirm the study’s results. Many factors are undoubtedly at play beneath the surface. While overconsumption of fast food seems to be associated with an increase in many allergic diseases in children, excessive eating of processed fast food may not totally explain why children are, on average, more allergic than their older relatives. Other factors undoubtedly contribute to the problem.

Nonetheless, this new information provides us with things we can do TODAY to lessen a child’s chance of allergy: providing a more traditional diet rich in fruits and vegetables may be part of the solution. By simply visiting the produce aisle instead of swinging by the nearest drive-through, a child’s health and quality of life can be changed for the better. Replacing processed sugars, carbohydrates, and preservatives with natural foods is the first step towards a healthier lifestyle and possibly less allergy disease for both you and your children.

Your comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com. Let me hear what your think. For more timely medical updates about children, subscribe to DocSmo.com on iTunes or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.  Until next time.

Smo notes:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/14/fast-food-child-asthma-allergies

Authored by Keri Register, Davidson College intern and Paul Smolen MD

America “super sized” (Pedcast)


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.

From the Desk of DocSmo: Obesity, the new norm (Article)

Here are some of the new things I am reading about as far as nutrition is concerned:

The Obesity epidemic in the US keeps rolling right along

Check out this graphic from the CDC.  20-30% of our population is now OBESE, not overweight, but OBESE

We all know the reasons: increase portion size, eating out more, more consumption of processed foods, fast food availability, sugary drinks everywhere, less exercise, more screen time etc.

Even the Chinese are starting to become OBESE.
Study: China Getting Fatter, But Not Like U.S. – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Apparently with wealth comes OBESITY.  In the US more accurately, being poor and living in a wealthy westernized society often means becoming OBESE.

In NYC they have taken a small step at fighting back.  There, it is mandatory to post calorie counts of food served in fast food restaurants to help patrons make a more informed choice about their food consumption.  It seems that about 1 out of every 6 patrons is affected by this information

Here are the CDC’s to-do list for both communities and parents to reverse the obesity epidemic in the US:
https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/index.html