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Kids and Obesity

We were talking about avoiding foods in my weight watchers meeting and several women said that all the "junk food" they buy for their kids is so hard to resist... My question:

WHY ARE THEY BUYING IT? Do they not realize that they are contributing to their child's unhealthy eating and future weight problems?!?!? Buy fruit and healthy snacks and that's what they will eat too!
Blows my mind, do they want their kids to be where they are, at a weight watchers meeting fighting their weight for the rest of their lives?!?!?

Mon. Aug 14, 5:00pm

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I have kids, and they don't eat a whole box of cookies at once..or a whole bag of chips..They know how to eat in moderation..They eat until they are full..They do also eat fruit, and healthy snacks, but I do buy junk too..

Monday, August 14, 2006, 5:04 PM

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I'm in my 30s, and I've spoken with people my age who were raised junk food-free. They said the first thing they did when they earned a little money babysitting or whatever was buy gummy bears and fritos and snickers. The non-athletic ones porked up in college when there were no parental controls. Most got it back under control because they were eating the junk in addition to the healthy stuff, so they never gave up their good habits. Just my 2 cents' worth.

Monday, August 14, 2006, 5:24 PM

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"junk" at my house is low fat granola bars, yogurt, fat free pudding cups, light ice cream sandwiches, etc...We do have chips, because my husband LOVES them, but they aren't allowed to eat them unless they're a side to a sandwich...not sit there with up to their armpits in a bag of chips. I don't feel guilty at ALL about "depriving" them of junk food

Monday, August 14, 2006, 5:25 PM

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That's awful. How do you resist the junk food you buy for kids? and this was in a weight watchers meeting?

Monday, August 14, 2006, 5:25 PM

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I grew up in a strictly no-junk-food household. You can still binge on granola and oatmeal bread, though, I'm the living proof of that!

Monday, August 14, 2006, 5:52 PM

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I grew up without junk too and I'm happy about it! I still eat balanced meals and even in college I ate crappy sometimes but my training as a child didn't allow me to gain 50 pounds like I've seen some people do!
Eating "junk food" like that just isn't in my life. I never lived that way so I don't miss it at all!

Monday, August 14, 2006, 6:03 PM

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eh, i grew up in a house of mostly healthy eating, but with some junk on hand. my mother was pretty good about giving us "healthy" meals and encouraging fruit and veggies, but also letting it be known that it was fine to have cookies or ice cream sometimes too. yet, i still end up with a weight problem as an adult.

parents are responsible for their kids eating habits, but once those kids become adults they have to make choices on their own, and they will make lots of wrong ones before they make right ones, regardless of what you teach them (about eating or anything else for that matter). the best bet is to give them a good foundation to take them into adulthood, show them what eating healthy is-they make not like it, but they will remember it. But also bake them a yummy cake when it comes time to celebrate once in a while!!!!

they general junkfood is one thing, but i hate how lots of restaurants offer as kids meals (and in general a lot of people feed their children this stuff everyday) nothing but chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, burgers and hotdogs. ick. all processed crap. i'd rather give my kid a healthy dinner at home and then give him potato chips or ice cream as "junk" than have their every meal be junk!

Monday, August 14, 2006, 7:59 PM

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This is personally a tough one for me. I walk on both sides of the fence. My husband doesn't eat as healthy as I would like. He drinks soda and I wouldn't have it in the house if it were only up to me. So because of him, my kids get to indulge more than I like . I try to explain to my children why something is not good for them so they will be able to make the right choices when they are on their own. They don't always like my choices but it's my responsibility to take care of them until they can take care of themselves.

As far as being tempted by the "junk" not at all. But my husband...that's another story!

Monday, August 14, 2006, 9:31 PM

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Heh, I just have to share about the soda drinking husband. Mine used to have a soda habit as well, and I encouraged him to drink water. He told me that there wasn't anything wrong with soda. He only drank a can or two a day. Then he got a kidney stone! Oh, the abject pain! It was highly motivational. He decided I may have been on to something with the whole water drinking theory and cut off his soda habit immediately. Something about NEVER wanting to do that again, EVER! He immediately saw a drop in his weight of about 30 pounds without much additional effort. Seven years later and he's still reaching for the water jug.

You can change your habits. I'm making sure my daughter doesn't grow up with his juice and pop habit. She also knows, on her own, that McDonalds (for example) is junk food and doesn't contain things that will help her grow up strong and healthy. She'd rather go to the Mongolian Grill. She's five. Kids can absorb a lot more than we give them credit for. Don't just cut everything out, but DO make it a "treat" that you have to go out for, rather than reach into the cupboard for.

Monday, August 14, 2006, 11:07 PM

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Yep - my parents were the same. Pop, burgers, fries, chips, candy, etc were all 'treats' that we might get once or twice a month - we didn't keep it in the house and they weren't things we got to have on a reglar basis. I still managed to gain weight by getting a sedentary, yet time-consuming job and eating way too much take-out and pre-packaged convenience food, but the damage wasn't bad and I consider myself lucky that I don't have to try to deal with uncontrollable cravings for sweets or salty food in addition to the effort I'm already making to lose weight and be healthier.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 1:40 AM

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to the 5:27 poster -
I think it's too easy to blame advetisers.
If parents can't say no to their children, they have bigger problems than junk food. I'm so sick of parents lamenting the fact that their children have bad eating habits or bad manners or no respect or whatever. Gee - who do you think was in charge of raising them??

For my children, sweets and junk are allowed in moderation (a very little bit, actually). Fruits and vegetables and other healthy snacks are the norm in our house. And we encourage our kids to get off their butts and MOVE.

Sorry if I'm ranting, but childhood obesity is such a problem and it's so preventable. And parents are doing their children such a disservice by not seeing to it that they are healthy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 12:13 PM

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i think parents with obese children who are not contributing to changing eating and lifestyle habits are abusing these children, period. and with the growing health insurance limitations in this country (the USA), these children will face more challenges finding an employer/insurance company that will cover their obesity-related health is preventable, treatable, deplorable.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 12:20 PM

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I agree 12:20 poster!
It blows my nind that people who struggle with their weight would let their kids eat a lot of junk food. I totally understand that kids deserve to have "treats" and eating everything anything in moderation is not unhealthy. But parents who do not intstill the proper eating habits in their children are irresponsible. Parents should limit their childrens acess to junk food and teach them how to eat a healthy balanced diet. As adults, they will make their own food choices, but hopefully they will stick to what they are taught. Our kids are watching everything we do....leading by example is one of the best ways to show kids how to be healthy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 12:58 PM

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Well said! I agree completely. Kids learn from their parents and of course they are going to make their own decisions when they are adults! But why start them off on the wrong foot? It's a HUGE problem in the U.S. and it's AVOIDABLE. That's what blows my mind. When I was growing up there weren't many overweight children. We played outside and ate healthy food.
It's scary how many are overweight now...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 1:03 PM

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It is so scary how many kids are not just overweight, but obese! It is not just about looks...these kids are going to have major health problems in their adult lives that we can't even predict at this point. Put away the video games, turn off the TV, and make kids run around outside and be active!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 2:22 PM

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Another opinion

Okay, really, I agree with what most people have been saying. I grew up with moderated junk. But, here is a counter-example:

My fiance is very slender, but with some muscle. I wouldn't call him skinny, but that's because he works to put on muscle; pics of him as a kid were definitely skinny. He can decide that he wants chocolate, eat 3 chocolate chips, and put the bag away. Or, he can decide he wants potato chips, eat straight out of the bag, and still be done after 10 chips and put the bag away. He never ever finishes the food on his plate (okay, rarely, and only when I cook in small portions). He eats whatever he wants, whenever he wants (including candy/chips from vending machines), and he never gets fat.

This is not (only) because he has a great metabolism. It's b/c the food is just food to him. It was never regulated. He knows to have what he feels like, and to stop when he's done.

There is always chocolate and gummy candy and dried fruits and yogurt-covered nuts and stuff in his parents' house. It seems as though it's always been there.

Additionally, his mother ate dessert pretty much every time we'd go out. It was what she loved. BUT, she'd order something like a shrimp cocktail appetizer as her dinner (which has what, like, 20 calories in it?) and, she never/rarely finished the dessert. She wasn't skinny, but she wasn't overweight at all.

Sometimes I think that treating junk as a treat is almost as bad as using it as standard everyday food. A treat can become something that you "deserve" if you do something good, or if something bad happens to you. More of a treat is always better than less of a treat. And a treat is always more favorable than something that's ordinary or everyday.

I'm not sure how to instill in kids that things like candy are best only in small amounts, rather than as treats, and that 5 M&Ms are satisfying (rather than now, where I'll eat the whole bag and be sad that it's gone, so I have to avoid it altogether!) But, if it were possible, that has to be the best way. Then there's no struggle with food, cravings, etc.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 2:31 PM

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it's termed "junk food" for a reason. the only people who would tell you that these foods have even the slightest inkling of nutritional information are probably working in that industry.
cigarettes are sold all over the place and one can find many people smoking out in public, but would you really tell your kids that it's ok to smoke, as long as it's done in moderation? would you keep cigarettes around your house so that they are not more tempting when your children come across them elsewhere? i think we need to take a look at the current times we live in and with all of the obesity in young children/teenagers, it's in the best interest of all children for parents/adult caregivers to crack down and say "no", it's not going to help your body in any way to consume that junk. all kinds of things are sold all over the place today, and by directing our children to recognize that wanting something is not enough of a reason to have that thing, i believe we will be instilling strong, educated, and hopefully healthy decision making abilities in them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 2:41 PM

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2:31 -- weird, huh? My fiance is just like that too. In fact, we just purged the pantry (after I moved in) of all this incredible stuff that he "just never felt like eating". We're talking chocolate cookies, candy, nutter butters, omg... But I'm not sure it's due to just good training. Honestly, his whole family is naturally very thin, and I think they genetically don't have that much urge to eat in the first place. And, my fiance has all these food issues (doesn't like tomatoes, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, and is vegetarian! Try cooking with those reqs, I tell you...) He just loses his appetite very easily. Wish I could figure out how to control that switch in MY brain...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 10:48 PM

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You have just described my husband! We got married in February (second marriage) and my eating habits started to improve right away! But I'm telling you, we're just wired differently! So if he needs chips in the house, I make sure I have my Lays Baked chips so I don't feel like, "how come he eats chips and he's skinny, and I don't and I'm fat!?" which is how I used to think. Which was very self-destructive.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 8:10 AM

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check out this link from the nih website. it give some guidelins/tips for dealing with childhood obesity.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 10:16 AM

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oops! here's the link mentioned above.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 2:15 PM

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and the program they discuss on the nih site is linked to here....


Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 2:16 PM

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I'm one of those kids that was raised with no junk food (we had full-fat ice cream in the house ONCE in 18 years, and never any potato chips or other junky snacks). I was also raised with no commercial TV (PBS only). My sweet tooth is so strong, though, that as soon as I had spending money and the freedom to get to a convenience store, I was hoarding candy. I still battle it, and the only solution I've found is to cut all the refined sugar and most of the other "white foods" out of my diet completely. So while I wasn't overweight as a child (I was actually underweight for a while), I quickly became overweight in college and am now battling the same 30 pounds for a third time.

Thursday, August 17, 2006, 12:56 PM

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To the 12:56 poster: Do you think you would have been thin as a child if you'd had access to all that sugar and junk? All the research I've read says that overweight kids have a very difficult time getting rid of weight as adults. You might be fighting the 30 pounds you've gained as an adult, but it's still better than having been teased growing up for being fat and fighting to take off 100 pounds. Kids that grow up fat have a legitimate beef with their parents for not modeling good behavior (exercise and portion control) and serving them good food. As an adult, you're the one that's responsible for where you are at. It's easier to fall back into good habits than have to relearn how to eat.

Thursday, August 17, 2006, 5:47 PM

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Sure, I'm not blaming my parents at all - maybe my dad's genes for giving me this insatiable sweet tooth (mom doesn't like sweets), but they did model good behavior for me. I'm a grownup, I'm responsible for what I eat, and I know how to eat right, I just choose to use food to soothe myself.

And I got teased plenty for being skinny and funny-looking - that's probably why I started turning to food to make myself feel better.

Thursday, August 17, 2006, 5:58 PM

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no offense, but justifying the desire to eat junk food after becoming responsible for your own eating habits really does not pertain to teaching and taking responsibility for our children's eating habits. we know so much more these days and have access to much more information about the health risks associayed with poor dieting choices-not to mention that almost every household nowadays has a tv (providing an infinite resource for "junk-food" advertisements.) and we also have today the test results to prove that our children need help nutritionally. the baby boomers have a much higher percentage of diagnosed diabetes 2 than the previous generation, but is that because of dietary changes or better testing? we can all come up with excuses / reasons why our own judgement may have failed us due to eating junk food (or having none available during our years in a parental figure's home), but we still are not exonerated from becoming better at teaching our children to make better choices-especially since there is so much information to use in creative, exemplary teaching methods.

Thursday, August 17, 2006, 10:07 PM

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the school system in pa has recently outlawed fryers from the school cafeterias in an effort to help curb this epidemic.

Friday, August 18, 2006, 11:47 AM

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"no offense, but justifying the desire to eat junk food after becoming responsible for your own eating habits really does not pertain to teaching and taking responsibility for our children's eating habits."

I'm not justifying my desire to eat junk food. I'm pointing out that i HAVE that desire despite my parents' best efforts - my parents made great efforts, and one of the best things they did was to ban commercial television in the house. I think more parents should do that. My mother's emphasis on cooking healthy meals is probably the reason I'm not more overweight, because I do cook for myself rather than eating out, most of the time, and I know how to cook a matter of fact, I don't fry anything because I don't know how!

Friday, August 18, 2006, 12:30 PM

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the 10:07 post was not directed at anyone inparticular.

Friday, August 18, 2006, 12:37 PM

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Dateline NBC is doing a show on this exact topic right now. Kids are being asked to pick between a rock covered with Scooby-Doo stickers and a banana - for breakfast...guess which one they're picking.

Friday, August 18, 2006, 8:25 PM

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what a shame! this is sooooo preventable! let's start a movement! a million calories burned for childhood obesity! there is a thread calculating the weight-loss of those who contribute to the thread...maybe we start a campaign to bring this issue more public attention in the media?

Saturday, August 19, 2006, 7:07 PM

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It gets tons of attention in the media. Unfortunately, marketing of junk food to children also gets hundreds of millions of marketing dollars from the food industry. Watch the portion of Super-Size me that talks about marketing to kids - I can't remember if they get into "the nag factor" and "pester power" (basically, research done to help the food industry get kids to more effectively persuade their parents to buy things). It's disgusting, but that's the drawback of capitalism (not that I want to live in any other economic system) - companies will do almost anything to increase their market share.

Saturday, August 19, 2006, 7:38 PM

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Related Questions

I don't like sweets and unhealthy treats in my home at all. My daughter is 20 months old and sometimes she plainly won't eat anything. She will, however, eat the Gerber chicken sticks, which are processed, and chicken dinosaurs, which are processed, and the canned baby raviolis, which have a lot of perservatives, and ritz cracker sandwiches, which have partially hydrogenated oils. my question is: Who has the simple answer? How do I get my daughter to eat natural foods? And how much harm are these products going to do?????

Monday, August 21, 2006, 12:41 PM

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Not going to starve.

Here's the deal: No child is going to voluntarily starve themselves for a length of time that would be harmful to their well-being. Do they prefer to have high sodium, high fat and sugar foods? You betcha! We're hardwired for that. Don't buy into the hype that if your child isn't eating what you serve them, you need to serve them something they want to eat. Unless there are underlying health issues that necessitate a consistent intake of food, serve healthy-for-them food and let them choose whether or not to eat it.

For the record, I am a mom with a five year old daughter. She loves to eat all the junk that is available at grandma's house, but is already capable of recognizing it as "junk" and something that she can eat occassionally but chooses not to on a daily basis. If you hold the line and keep trying other healthy options, they WILL eat! They'll even like it!

Monday, August 21, 2006, 4:51 PM

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Hey everyone... wow, y'all are really hard on parents! I was raised in a home with junk food. It wasn't all junk food all the time but there was always junk food there. My parents served it to us in moderation... we had snack every night at 8pm after dinner and were allowed such things as 3 cookies, 1 scoop of ice cream, 1 serving size of italian water ice... things like that. In our lunch we'd have a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a granola bar and some chips again, in a serving size container... there was no problem with that. We didn't crave junk food, it was part of the routine, but in moderation, so we got used to it.

Now, I may not be the weight that I want but I don't think I'm ridiculously overweight either (I'm 5'8 and 155) and I still, have a dessert every now and then (rarely) I don't like chocolate, and I always have a piece of fruit with my lunch.

Besides which, I understand that childhood obesity is a huge problem, but really, let's face it, it has less to do with "junk food" in the home and more to do with the fact that parents are so busy that most kids eat out multiple times a week at fast food restaurants with processed food... and spend a large amount of time getting no exercise... junk food is not the problem, it's a lack of monitoring what our kids do and making sure they're active. I mean, how many parents pack a lunch for their kids anymore? I worked at a preschool, more than half the parents would send the prepackaged lunches (processed food) and then take their child out to a fast food place for dinner.

And to whoever said that letting your child be overweight or obese is a form of child abuse... let me tell you... I am a foster care worker and childhood obesity is the least of the problems right now in child abuse!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 9:49 AM

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i beg to differ with your opinion that childhood obesity is the least of our worries with respect to children and the problems that they are facing. i am in no way trying to downplay other forms of horrendous abuse, but you cannot dismiss the obesity issue just because there are other issues that need to be tackled. i'm not going to write a whole page describing my experiences with obese children, but suffice to say that allowing this preventable disease to ruin countless lives/lifestyles is without a doubt first hand abuse. the physical problems are extensive and the emotional, psychological, and often spiritual difficulties these children are burdened with may never leave them, for their entire lives! i commend the above poster who sacrifices her time to contribute to bettering the lives of children who may or may not suffer from many forms of abuse. but please do not diminish the damage that is being done due to lack of dietary regulation in the lives of many children.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 10:03 AM

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for the most part, "fast food" is synonymous with "junk food".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 12:45 PM

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Thursday, September 07, 2006, 12:17 PM

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this shares some points with the thread on fruity cheerios...

Thursday, September 14, 2006, 3:52 PM

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this debate ties in with the other thread about soda, allowances and cravings.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006, 10:46 AM

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Don't feed your kids crap, or that's what they start to look like.

I was raised on junk food. I only drank soda. We did have pretty healthy home cooked meals, but with a lot of salt and butter. I ate whenever I felt like it and I was never fat, but always a bit bigger than the other little girls my age. I didn't even know how to eat healthy until my college health class.

I've always had issues with food (since my mother did, too). Obesity runs in my family and my husband's family. I am strongly considering moving far enough away that my family and my husband's family so that their eating habits to not affect my future children. Is that weird? I have one neice (husband's brother's little girl) and I see the way my in-laws practically force-feed her junk food. It's scary. And she is becoming more and more round each year. It's sad, and I don't want my kids to be in that same situation. Anyone else feel this way?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006, 1:53 PM

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Yesterday I found myself bashing away at the elliptical during a "bad TV" time of day and ended up watching the Maury Povitch show. Skip the fake melodramatic crap (e.g. "my 4-year-old can eat a whole pizza pie in one sitting"), but they had 2 children on the show - a 92-lb 3-year-old and a 120-lb 4-year-old. I thought of this thread when the 4yo's "second breakfast" was displayed as 2 very full bowls (like 3 servings each) of Fruit Loops.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006, 3:16 PM

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this is pertinant, still, unfortunately.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007, 12:24 PM

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if your kids begged and begged through crying fits for heroin, would you give in or hold your ground? think of it like that.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007, 1:54 PM

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it's never too early to teach that your decisions have an impact, consequences. eating 15 apples is going to make you sick. eating a half gallon of ice cream is going to make you sick. it's not so much the apple, per se, or the ice cream in particualr, it's the overeating. there oughtta be a course in nutrition taught at least weekly in the physical education classes!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007, 3:03 PM

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Parents Its Up To you

Part of being a good parent is protecting your kids, given free will for the most part kids would do whatever they wanted.
Caving into the kids is just taking the easy way out. You're the parent for crying out loud you have to be the tough one, and not the "good" guy. Eating poorly is endangering the childs health, thereofor you are not protecting the childs well being properly - very simple if you ask me

Thursday, June 07, 2007, 3:34 PM

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you can teach your child all about proper nutrition, but kids are kids. it's a bit idealistic to think that your child won't eat the junk foods at school or parties or the mall when other kids are eating it. there's only so much control you can assert. the best thing is to have some junk food and teach your child(ren) the appropriate portions of certain snacks. then they won't feel left out or like they are not allowed to eat what the other kids are having, but they will know the right amount to enjoy.

Monday, June 25, 2007, 12:05 PM

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great idea, teaching about portion control hands-on! i think it's important for kids to see that snacks can be part of a healthy eating plan!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007, 9:55 AM

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I have a small problem with using using junk food as a treat or reward just because I feel this leads to emotional eating later. One of the greatest things you can teach your children is how to make proper food choices and the importance of exercise. Like everyone else has said too, children learn by example.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007, 10:23 AM

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junk food needn't be given as a reward, but can be included in a healthy eating plan. a few potaote chips (baked) with a sandwich are perfectly acceptable and won't ruin or sabotage any efforts to teach about proper nutrition. i don't like the idea of quelling illness with soothing foods. i think a nice, slow walk in the outdoors is highly beneficial and won't make us turn to food when seeking comfort.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007, 10:38 AM

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Kids and Obesity

I have a 14 year old beautiful daughter who is genetically doomed to be thick. I am trying to show her it is ok to be thick without being over weight. She is 14 and measures 36-30-36, She is thinning out and is very active in volleyball and softball. I keep nothing but healthy food in the house, however, when she eats something, nothing is done in moderation it is alway 3 granola bars not 1. I dont want to create a girl that becomes obsessed with her weight but I want her to be aware that she can easily become obesse with our genetics. I struggle with my weight, not when I was young however post baby. My husbands side has the poor genetics and on my side we have the thyroid disorder. I just want a happy healthy daughter that does not have to be humiliated at school because she is not a size 0 but what some would call curvy. Is there a site for kids that talk about these kinds of things.

Monday, July 02, 2007, 12:08 AM

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