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Everything You Know About Obesity May Actually Be Right…

The Huffington Post released an article stating that we have been waging a “cruel and futile war” on fat people and ruining millions of lives. There’s a ton of nuance here (social determinants of health, food deserts, childhood adverse experiences and trauma, metabolic disorders, poor education). There are absolutely serious societal/environmental/cultural inputs that promote obesity. But I want to dive into an area where HuffPo is dead wrong.

Pediatric obesity is now an epidemic in the United States. It affects more than 30 percent of children, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood.

The risk that a 5 year old child with obesity remains obese as an adult is approximately 50%. On the other hand, the risk of a normal weight child becoming obese as an adult is only 7%.

Should we leave our kids alone and just accept their heaviness… after we’ve pumped them full of soda, candy, and processed food and let them sit in front of a screen all day? HELL NO.

Dr. Pepper in SIPPY CUPS??

As someone who struggled with obesity when I was young, I can say that the emotional toll being fat takes on kids is incalculable.

As a rule, kids are not responsible for being obese. They do not fill their sippy cups with soda or sugary drinks, and they most certainly don’t buy cookies and ice cream from the grocery store. They aren’t in charge of their screen time or how often they ride their bike outside.

YOU ARE.

Giving your kids regular fruit juice or soda, or worse, a magical toddler energy drink called “Tinker Tea” —a mix of Mt. Dew, sweet tea, and PIXIE STICKS—  is straight CHILD ABUSE. (Tinker Tea is real, check it out).

Our kids are being diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and Type 2 diabetes at younger and younger ages. They are sadly bullied in school and traumatized, and are set on a path towards a difficult adulthood filled with struggle.

Let’s teach parents.

It is your responsibility to provide nutritious food to your kids. It doesn’t matter how many times your kid begs you for candy, soda, or chips. You are responsible for them; they are not responsible for themselves. What they put into their mouth YOU supply. Even in food deserts, even on a strict budget, it can be done with support, love, and education. And if it is still a struggle, your healthcare team can help.

Treatment of pediatric obesity is a family affair and needs to be directed at the family, not just the child. If the child is the only one making changes in their life, they are less likely to be successful and are then made to feel different and set apart.

Likewise, parents who do not make healthier changes in their lives are likely to undermine the child’s attempts. 

To read more about what you can do to treat childhood obesity, including simple and easy everyday changes, check this excellent resource out.

If you feel as angry as I do about the obesity epidemic in kids, share this message. You can check out the original Facebook post here, and listen to the free podcasts on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Hey guys, so, the other night I had a conversation with the SuperPac, they’re the supporters who subscribe for $4.99 a month and we have these very private conversations on the supporter page, that you can access if you sign up as well. We were talking about obesity in a recent article in the Huffington Post, which was saying that, basically everything we know about obesity is wrong, doctors need to stop fat shaming and discriminating against obese people and it’s not the obese person’s fault that they’re obese because of all these reasons. Well we can dig into that another time but I wanna talk more about a subject that came up during our conversation.

Which was, what about children? So childhood obesity is at epidemic levels, pediatricians and friends of mine are seeing children now who are so heavy, they’ve never seen anything like it, historically. And they’re suffering from diseases of adulthood, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, as children. And they feel like, well, can we even address the parents and say, you know, your child is actually really obese.

This is unhealthy, this is not about fat shaming. And worse than that, the child is being bullied in school. There are social stigma that continues with obesity. And so for all these reasons, this child is in danger. Now the question is, who’s fault is that?

Is is the child’s fault for eating sugary snacks, drinking sugary sodas, drinking too much milk, having processed food, not exercising, not getting out, not having too much screen time. No, it’s not, and do you know why? Because who controls the child’s diet? You, parents, you control the child’s diet.

And because you control the child’s diet, the child doesn’t get up and go to McDonald’s. The child doesn’t get up and go to the fast food machine and fill up on a sugary beverage. The child doesn’t fill their bottle with Dr. Pepper, which I have seen parents do, they’re giving their children sugary beverages in a bottle. They don’t do that, you do that, you control your child’s diet.

Children are statistically more likely to be heavy if the parents are heavy. And its often a behavioral issue, not a genetic issue, not a metabolic issue. It’s a behavioral issue.

Now for me, this is personal. Because I was ahead of the curve on every level when I was a kid, I had childhood obesity before it was cool, in the 70s. My parents came from India, my mother is a very nurturing type, she’s a psychiatrist. They came from poverty in India, where people die on the streets of starvation, if you haven’t been, go and see it. And they come to a land, with by the way, nothing in their pockets, to do their second training in medicine. They come to a land of abundance where there’s a supermarket, where you can get sugary snacks and processed food easily and satisfy anything you want, for relatively cheap. And her idea of giving comfort to me, as a child, was to feed me.

And so she would put honey in my milk because I loved the sweet taste of it. I had Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Pebbles and Captain Crunch. Anything I wanted to eat. We would go to McDonald’s or Burger King almost every other night and they were busy because they were in residency.

So as a result, I was fat, I was down right fat. I was teased, my earliest memories of are people making fun of me, unable to do a pull up in PE, all those kinds of things and that stigma followed me. And it took me until late adolescence to have enough insight and education to realize, oh, this is how I can lose weight, that it’s probably all these sugary snacks and the fact that I’m overeating. I actually bordered into an eating disorder at one point to lose that weight. That’s how bad it had gotten. And I got lucky because I was able to do it. My brother had an even bigger struggle, but he did it too, but it was so hard. And whose fault was that? Was it my fault?

No, it was because I was fed that crap by my mom. And she and I have talked about this. And the thing is, again, it wasn’t her fault in the sense that, she was doing what she thought was best for me but listen guys, it was absolutely her fault. And if you’re a parent and your child is obese, it is your fault. And if you come to the doctor and the doctor kind of tells you and they’re often beating around the bush, kids on the really right end of the growth curve, and you’re like, “well, BMI doesn’t measure muscle and he’s big boned and he’ll grow out of it, and everyone in his family is healthy and heavy.”

No, it is a form of child abuse to give your children sugary drinks, processed food, and junk food on a regular basis. It is straight child abuse. Whose fault is it? Yours. “No, the food industry puts fructose in everything and they’re poisoning us and that’s why there’s so much diabetes.” Who’s paying the food industry? You. Why do you think they do it? Because they’re getting paid to do it. Who is making it happen? You. Children of obese parents are more likely to be obese, why? It’s a behavioral transferrance. And it’s entirely in your control.

And the excuse that you’re not educated about it, that’s not an excuse. We will help to educate you, it’s on us, but it’s also on you, to listen, to break through the denial. Once you make your child obese, and they have diabetes and hypertension and a hyperlipidemia, good luck reversing that. Good luck reversing the social stigma they’re gonna live with all their lives. Because it has been shown, it is almost impossible, to get to a normal weight when you are morbidly obese and sustain it without a lot of help. That insurance doesn’t cover, that takes tremendous discipline and work and that can sap your energy and is this something that you wanna do to your kids. And then you’re babysitting them with a screen. You’re letting them watch YouTube videos all day while snacking. And you’re putting Dr.freaking Pepper in their bottle; it is disgusting what you’re doing.

And I get angry about this because it was done to me and I know how hard it was to undo it. And as a doctor, it’s sickening to see it happen. And I’m tired of people trying to normalize obesity, “well it’s okay because he’s healthy fat.” It is not okay for a child to be obese if you’re feeding them crap. If you’re feeding them crap and your child is fat, you are abusing that child. And we should do better as providers to teach you not to do that and we need to have the blunt conversation. We need to stop the screen time, we need to improve how we eat so that the big food industry stops making that crap because we’re demanding food that is whole, that is unprocessed, that is not full of sugar, alright. And we stop drinking our calories in the form of sugary beverages. That is it, that’s all you need to know.

If you agree with this message, share it with someone you care about. And if you wanna have these discussions to try and mold how we communicate these messages, join the SuperPac, click the supporter button, $4.99 a month, soon we’re gonna be offering CME for that crowd. We’re up to over 1000 supporters and it’s still an intimate discussion, we have almost every night about issues that matter to you. Alright ZPac, please hit share and we out.

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