Combat child obesity with a home-cooked meal

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Medical Conditions, In The News, Mealtime

I'm one of those moms that cares a lot about the food my family eats. Even as food costs rise, we've cut back in other areas in our budget so that we can continue to buy organic and locally grown meat and produce.

But by far, the most important thing I do to ensure that my family eats healthy, well-balanced meals is to COOK. That is why I found myself particularly peeved as I read a Time Magazine cover story entitled "How America's Children Packed on the Pounds."

In summing up the answer to the dilemma presented in the cover story title, the author describes "a long multifront war" on childhood obesity as such: "Parents are fighting it in the home....... Policymakers are fighting it as they study the growing body of research..... Doctors are fighting it as they deal daily with the ills associated with childhood obesity. And perhaps most important, teachers, mentors, and public role models are fighting it as they help kids navigate a culture that fosters fat but idealizes thin....".

Teachers, mentors, and public role models are the most important front in this war??!! I have a serious problem with the assigned hierarchy. In fact, this mentality, which inevitably leads to millions of wasted tax dollars, makes my blood boil!

A child's food preferences, habits, and his/her relationship with food are determined at HOME. Teachers, mentors, and public role models (whatever that means) can do precious little once the mold is set.

If America thinks that real solutions to childhood obesity lie in government campaigns such as the $125 million "VERB" campaign aimed at preteens and featuring Miley Cyrus, they are either grossly naive or, more likely, in serious denial. The campaign's budget was eventually slashed, which Time Magazine described as the government "dropping the ball."

Actually, parents are the ones "dropping the ball." We don't need another million-dollar government study to figure out that childhood obesity increased at about the same time that the once sacred family meal became optional and even non-existent in some homes.

If your child is a latch-key kid who heats up his dinner in the microwave or if eating take-out in the car on the way to soccer practice has replaced good food and conversation around the family table, you may have a genuinely good reason for your family's meal arrangements. And that's fine by me.

My problem is not with your particular arrangement (to each his own), but rather with our national denial. We blame McDonalds, school lunches, commercials, video games, the government -- the list goes on.

To combat childhood obesity, kids don't need government funded celebrity campaigns or mentors as much as they need parents who take the time to plan and cook nutritious meals that family members are expected to attend.

Why do we insist on complicating things so much? It's the family meal, stupid.

For more information about Rachel, visit her website at

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.