This week The Dr. Oz Show aired a show dedicated to the alarming increase of childhood obesity and the controversial debate, Is Childhood Obesity considered Child Abuse? We heard the stories and concerns of some obese children, parents, and advocates. In the end, parents want to do what’s best for their children. But where do you start? Knowledge is power and awareness can be an eye opener. Dr. Oz and his guest colleagues bring up a few interesting points that may help us parents “get going” in a different direction.
Recognizing signs that your child is in the Danger Zone should kick start you into action. Dr Corey Hebert, Pediatrician at Tulane University Hospital says lookout for these signs:
- Gaining weight around the belly. Belly fat is an indication that fat may be developing around your child’s internal organs, putting your child at risk for type 2 diabetes.
- A rash on the back of your child’s neck, armpits or groin may be a condition called Acanthosis Nigricans. This is a pre-diabetes condition. It indicates that your child is taking in so much sugar and his pancreas is making so much insulin, that the pancreas may be ready to burn out.
- When your child says the kids are teasing him about his weight. Teasing is very stressful emotionally for your child and may cause him to seek comfort by eatting sweets and other unhealthy snacks causing more weight gain. Dr. Hebert says “Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards”
- When your child says he wants to do something about his weight. He is aware he has a problem and is looking for help from you.
In your efforts to turn around the obesity problem in your home, Dr. Oz advises do not use the confrontational approach. Kids will just rebel. Instead, lead by example. If your kids see you eating the right foods they will want to do it themselves. Read how this mother helped her 11 year old daughter lose 50 pounds!
Dr. Alan Greene, MD Pediatrician and author of Feeding Baby Green said research has shown that what mothers eat, even when they are pregnant, changes what their child craves for food and changes their metabolism.
As parents, we know that fatty, sugary, salty foods and snacks are all part of the problem we need to correct, but why do we have such a strong cravings for these foods? Well, we may be letting the food industry dupe us!
Dr. Greene say those foods have been engineered to hit the addiction center and the survival center of our brains. The fat, sugar and salt is calculated to get us hooked on them. Dr. Oz points out that they do this not because they are some sort of “Evil Empire” but because it works for profit and we allow to them to get away with it. We have the power to stop it by as Dr. Oz says “we vote with our pocketbooks three times a day!”
Dr. Greene gives us Three Secrets Ways the food industry is trying to hook our kids:
- Cheesy snack chips are high fat, high carbohydrates, high salt. The high carbohydrates raise our serotonin levels and has a calming effect on us. It hits the addiction center in the brain so when you stop eating it, you need a fix and want more. But this snack as empty calories and no fiber.
- Foods are packaged with popular cartoon characters. Advertising directed at kids work. It has been estimated that about $10 billion is spent on advertising to our children. For every dollar spent at promoting foods to kids, only got 1/10 of the penny is spend promoting good foods. Dr. Oz says there is a big study that shows that kids will choose broccoli over a chocolate bar if it has a picture of Elmo on the package!
- Foods that say “made with whole grain” try to trick people into thinking that they are healthy for us but these foods still contain mostly white flour. The label should say ”100% whole grain” and it should have a stamp on it from the WholeGrainCouncil.Org. Whole grains like Whole Wheat contain much needed fiber which helps slow digestion, regulate blood sugar and regulate bowel functions. Dr. Oz recommended that children under 10 years should eat at least 20 grams of fiber per day, 10 years and more should eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
How do you know if your child is are getting enough fiber? You may want to use a nutrient calculator such as TheRightTrak. I used TheRightTrak to calculate the fiber grams for the menu below, and it totaled 25.5 grams of fiber. Also, 1627 calories, 174 grams carbs, 25 grams saturated fat, .6 grams omega 3. Dr. Oz would not like the saturated fat number, but that is what the calculator is good for. Mix and match food choices to see if you are meeting your nutrient needs. The values are from the USDA Food Database of over 7500 foods and about 50 nutrients and it calculates the totals for you.
- Breakfast. One cup Honey Bunches of Oats/wAlmonds, one cup 1% milk, 3/4 cup blueberries.
- Lunch. Sandwich with 2 slices whole wheat bread, 1.5 oz cheese, 2.5 oz turkey cold cuts, mustard. one raw medium apple.
- Snack. 1.5 oz Peanuts
- Dinner. 3.5 oz Chicken Breast. 1/2 cup sweet potato boiled with butter, 3/4 cup snap green beans. One cup 1% milk.
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