Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'm Judging All the Fat Kids

We’re in the midst of an epidemic, or so we’re frequently told.

The 2015 Rascal. Your kid's gonna love it. 
Childhood obesity is everywhere.

Blimpish kids are proliferating like plump, mushrooms, and there’s no way we can stop them.

Soon, the aisles of Toys R Us will be clogged with toddlers on Rascals, fighting their way to the newly established “baked goods” aisle. 

There’s been a rash of media reports in the past few months proclaiming childhood obesity to be a top threat to America’s children. And, no doubt, it is.

The numbers from a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association are astonishing.

“The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012,” the AMA reports.

The same AMA report notes that: “Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.”

What’s of interest to me is, how this discussion is framed.

Childhood obesity is a disease? Really?

It’s not as if this is a cold or a staph infection. A kid doesn’t just go out and catch a bad case of “the fats.” Obesity isn’t spread from person to person, at least not literally.

The boy during one of his frequent sugar rushes.
If we’re talking about addiction, that’s one conversation. Most of us have seen addiction, some, no doubt, have been afflicted by it. 

But, common sense tells us that one fifth of America’s children aren’t addicted to overeating and eating poorly.

And, despite my son’s best efforts to be the exception, kids aren’t doing the grocery shopping. That’s mom and dad. And it’s mom and dad who put the food on the table; and it’s mom and dad placing orders at the drive-thru.

This isn’t an epidemic of obesity; it’s an epidemic of poor parenting isn’t it?

This sweeping generalization of mine slapped me in the face the other day when the boy woke up on the wrong side of the crib.

To help dry his tears and allay his furious anger, I made him some chocolate milk with Hershey’s syrup.

Shortly thereafter, I opened the pantry and he noticed the bag of M & Ms on the top shelf, and he asked for some. I gave him a couple and then proceeded to pop a waffle in the toaster, which was later doused in syrup.

At some point I snapped out of my stupor and began to take stock of what the boy was consuming before 8 a.m. 

I drink coffee, the boy drinks this. It's all relative, right?
Then I remembered that this was the second day in a row I’d given him chocolate milk at breakfast. (And to think, I was under the impression the boy enjoyed mornings with Daddy because of the stimulating conversation.)

I thought about all of this and then I considered my opinions on childhood obesity or, more candidly, my judgment of the whole “epidemic.”

Specifically, I ruminated on my judgments of the parents of chubby kids and how, when you’re giving your kid chocolate milk for breakfast, you probably shouldn’t be judging anyone.

I considered just how much I’ve got it all figured out” and how — once again — my attempt to understand something by passing judgment on entire segment of the population failed. 

The fact is, it’s harder — much harder — to eat well. It’s more expensive. It takes more time and, let’s be frank, everything tastes better when it’s deep fried or doused in something made with high-fructose corn syrup.

We’re supposed to be the change we want to see in the world, right? I’ll start by trying to stop judging and start conceding that things are never as simple as they seem.

1 comment:

Rona Kay said...

Parenting. Or, as I like to call it, remedial lessons in humility.