wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Lifestyle

Trove link goes here
On Parenting
Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 05/11/2011

Childhood obesity epidemic: Whose fault?

The latest entry in the Blame-Parents-For-Obesity-Epidemic-epidemic comes from researchers at Ohio State University and Temple University who wrote in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that if moms don’t bond appropriately with their young children, those children are at risk for becoming obese.
British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is trying to make American school lunches healthier. (J. Pat Carter - Associated Press)

This comes on the heels of the Blame-Parents-For-Obesity-Epidemic research earlier this week that said bottle-feeding your child for too long could lead to obesity. Which comes after news that a pregnant woman’s diet can alter a child’s DNA and lead to future weight problems.

Just before that, my favorite study delivered us the news that if a mother worked full-time, she might be setting her children up for obesity.

I may be sounding a tad defensive here when I say this: It’s not my fault.

It’s true that when I was pregnant I ate like Popeyes was going out of style, that I tend to value convenience over purity in meals and that I have worked out-of-the-home, off and on, throughout both my girls’ young lives. But these “terrible” parenting mistakes are NOT the reason my children will be at risk of becoming obese.

They will be at risk because I am raising them in a culture where cars and junk food are so a part of children’s lives that Oreos come in a container shaped to fit a mini-van cup holder. It’s a culture where the outdoors is viewed as dangerous and school budgets have squeezed out physical education and team sports.

When I look around, I see plenty of culprits other than individual parents. Municipal planners top my personal list. But there’s a deep bench on this:sugar lobbyists, television-news-assignment-editors, video-game-hawkers, etc. etc.

It won’t help to beat ourselves up over generally sound personal behavior. Behavior, by the way, that is oftentimes far better than previous generations. (My mother’s doctor encouraged her to smoke through her pregnancies. “It’ll make for a smaller baby, easier delivery,” she quoted him as saying.)

Instead, let’s look at how some individual behavior is reshaping the culture in a positive way. Some of the most famous in this counter-culture movement are Lenore Skenazy, who is leading an effort to get kids back outside with Free Range Kids, and Chef Jamie Oliver, who, with his charitable foundation, is attacking the broader problems of lunches in American schools.

Plenty of local efforts are on the rise too. Arlington mother Colleen Levine has created Foodie Tots, where she marries convenience and healthy eating. (Watch for her recommended local Farmer’s Markets in an upcoming post.)

Or Girls On The Run, a national program with local chapters that teaches empowerment through running and fills in some of the physical education gaps.

The obesity epidemic is real. Many children are unhealthier than they should be. If we are going to take individual responsibility for it, let’s do it by taking action against the real culprits.

What or who do you blame for the rise in obesity? How can we change the trend? What other local efforts are underway?

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 05/11/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company