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Monday, September 13, 2010

The Fat Kid

Kids are fat nowadays.

Do I need to look up the statistics? I don’t think so. It doesn’t take a slick pie chart to state the obvious.

Our children are getting fatter and fatter every year. Why is that? How do we reverse the trend?

I am glad that you asked because I am going to tell you.

I was driving into the office this morning and I heard something on the radio that kind of made me laugh. I think it was Taylor Swift (who made like $45 million last year, just sayin’…) was doing some sort of fundraiser or awareness campaign to “fight childhood obesity”. That’s ridiculous. She has no idea how to do that. I’m sure that whomever she’s raising money for has no idea either. Rest assured someone is going to make a financial killing by using her name. It all goes back to the money.

When I was in middle school there I was friends with a kid named Tom Collins. He stands out to me today because he was fat. Yep, he was “the fat kid”. If you’re over the age of 30 I’m sure you remember “the fat kid”. Why do you remember this? Yep, there was only one. Tom was “the fat kid” in school.

When I was a freshman in high school I was in a new school. There was a girl named Vanessa. She was the fat girl. I guess there were a few others when I was in high school but Vanessa stands out for the same reason Tom did. Why, you ask? Well both of them left school in the spring one year and came back on the fall THIN! That’s right. Fat didn’t suit them. They didn’t want to stand out any more as the fat kids and took care of that problem.

These days the skinny kids stand out…

So there are two glaring issues here. Why are our kids so fat and how do we reverse the trend? Shockingly I have my theories. I know, surprised, eh?

Kids are fat because of money; simply as that. So many people make so much money because our children are fat. That’s the simple answer.

Kids stay fat because people don’t know how to make them healthy again. Our instant gratification, everyone needs to make a buck society won’t allow it.

This is ramping up to be a very long blog post. Whatever. Read on my friends. Read on.

So who benefits from our kids being fat and unhealthy? The food and drug companies perhaps?

Did you know the four biggest food companies are: Tyson, PepsiCo, Nestle and Kraft? Now you do. Presumably the biggest food companies supply the most food and make the most money. Can you think of a single healthy thing these companies put on our table? Neither can I.

OK, stick with me here.

When kids are fat they have more asthma, “ADD”, diabetes, etc. Do I need to look up statistics here? No I don’t. Do said sick kids need drugs? You bet they do. (OK, not really, but that isn’t the scope of this article)

OK, so fat kids eat more food thus the food companies make more money and they are now sicker so the drug companies make more money.

Is it overly cynical to believe they know EXACTLY what they are doing? You decide.

Over the last couple of months I have had several conversations with people about kids that are overweight. Young kids that are overly tall and heavy. Some of the parents are fit and active and some are not. The common theme is that the kid is like 10 and 130 lbs. Not a good thing. We didn’t have this problem 20 years ago. Why now?

It comes down to the two basics. The kids are eating the wrong foods and they aren’t getting enough exercise.

Let’s look the eating part first.

Kids are not little adults. They don’t understand things like we do.

This morning I was getting my 10 year old off to school. We were late and rushing. He goes to the fridge and grabs a foiled package. Before he slipped it into his back pack I stopped him. “What is that?”

Yeah, I knew what it was and I didn’t wait for him to answer.

“You are NOT bringing that to school.”

It was a big ol’ Nestle crunch bar.

“But, Dad, I get hungry during the day.”

As much as my son has been around ME you’d think he’d get the point by now. Kids really do think that a chocolate bar is going to relieve their hunger. Oh man. Yeah, it’s our fault.

Kids want to be instantly gratified just like we do. They learn it from us! Plus they are flooded day and night through the TV with ads and images that perpetuate the myth that we need sugar, caffeine and beer to get through the day. OK, maybe not the beer for the kids. They are being set up for that later.

So let’s reset here shall we? Kids are fat today. They are fat because they eat the wrong foods because they don’t know any better. Plus fat is now normal. Yeah, my kids a little over weight but so are all the other kids.

Eating is only half the story.

Obviously, our kids don’t get enough activity. When I was a kid I played either freeze tag or kickball at recess EVERYDAY. No teacher EVER told us to do this. The games were organized and played because there were no iPods and Nintendo DS’s. Just sayin’. I had PE class 2-5 days per week where we did warm-ups that involved running and jumping. We played organized and games and COMPETED. It was hard and we worked up a sweet. After school I rode my bike or walked to my friend’s house and we build forts, played war and explored. During sports seasons I wrestled and played baseball.

What kid does this now?

My kid comes home and watches the Discovery Channel and plays on Facebook. He is thin and very fit so we must have done something right BUT most kids these days are not.

We live in a different world now and our kids are paying the price; so are we.

How can we reverse this whole trend? We can’t; plain and simple we can’t. We can stop the bleeding though.

The food and drug industry I believe is to blame for the whole ball of wax. They make food that tastes great, lasts from now on, addicts or children and then sells us drugs to make everything better.

The profit margins for food and drugs these days are fantastic. Billions of dollars are spend every year designing and marketing new food and drugs. What is the goal? Health? You are already on drugs if you believe THAT.

The food and drug industries are mandated by stockholders to MAKE MONEY. You and I and our children are paying the price.

How much money do you suppose is spend on marketing and developing healthy food? Broccoli is broccoli; can’t make money there. You can, however, put SpongeBob on a box of gummy bears and sell it to my kid. Awesome. No, it’s sad really.

There are only two solutions to this massive problem. It can either start at the bottom or start at the top.

The top means the government. Yeah, they can actually care and do something about this mess. Show of hands: Who thinks that most elected officials don’t have the stones to stand up to the food and drug industrial complex? Soooo that’s not going to work.

The only other option is to work from the ground up. Yeah, that’s you and me.

“No, I’m not buying you soda.”

“No, you don’t need ice cream after dinner.”

“You can have an apple for a snack.”

“But Billy’s parents let him have candy after school.”

“ Billy’s fat.”

“You’re playing a sport. You pick.”

“But I don’t like whole wheat bread. I want white bread.”

“Let’s see how starving suites you.”

“You can watch TV for 1 hour after our walk around the block…. 6 times.”

Do you get the picture? It’s the little things everyday that make a big difference. You aren’t going to thin your kid out over night but you will if you hold yourself and them to a higher standard. Trust me. Once you start it will be like a snowball.

What follows is a plan. It’s a plan of attack that will keep (or make) your kid healthy, fit and productive. Don’t expect them to jump up and down for joy when you start implementing the plan. They may or may not get it in the next few years. Stand up to them though. Love them by making the right choices for them.

1. Educate yourself and your kids. Make them watch “Supersize Me”. TELL them that broccoli will make them big and strong. Make stuff up if you need to. Tell them Coke puts hair on your back. If they are young enough the girls will believe it!

2. Limit TV. Yeah, I don’t have cable TV in my house. You don’t need to be a dramatic as that but YOU are the parent. Limit use of the TV. Make them pick shows and approve them. No kid should be watching “Family Guy” or “South Park”. Just sayin’.

3. They need to exercise every day. Make them walk to the bus stop. Make them ride 3X around the block. Have fun with this. Time them. Make it interesting in some way, shape, or form. Challenge them. Sign them up for sports! Kids (and, ahem, adults!) need to exercise each and every day. Do it with them!

4. DO NOT BUY CANDY, COOKIES, ICE CREAM, SODA OR PASTRIES. The kids don’t need this stuff. Sure they are likely to get in at a friend’s house. Whatever. Yeah, be that parent. It’s OK. They don’t need a treat. How about you make a treat a banana or something. That’s the ticket!

5. Make them as many meals as you can. If they don’t eat then they get hungry. This actually works. If you have Fruity Pebbles in the cupboard then why would they eat the fried egg, melon and whole wheat toast that you make them for breakfast? Yeah, it’s easier to make a can of raviolis then it is to cook a meal that your kids will likely hate at first. How hard is it for your doctor to tell you that your 10 old has high cholesterol?

6. Pack food for the road. If you are going out ALWAYS bring a cooler with healthy snacks. “I’m hungry”. (they always seem to get hungry when there is a McDonalds in view) “Hey you go. Mmmm. Enjoy your carrots!”They might be mad a first. They get over it.

7. Do NOT. I repeat, DO NOT, step foot into McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Arby’s etc. etc. EVER! Do I need to explain this one? (HINT: Make the watch “Supersize Me”!! (again))

8. Don’t go out to eat very much. It’s OK every once in a while but not very much. It goes without saying that you need to avoid the all you can eat buffets.

9. Don’t let them eat school lunches! Holy cow! They are awful! Avoid sending them to school with money as well. Who knows what they are going to buy!

10. Stand up to your doctor. No they really don’t need all those vaccines or the “ADD” drugs or the cough medicine or the Tylenol. I know this is beyond the scope of this article again BUT do your research. Kids don’t need all these drugs. The more we drug them the fatter and sicker they get. Coincidence? I think not. But the drug companies make lots of money…

OK, you get the theme here. I could go on all day. I will stop soon.

Your kids health ultimately is your responsibly! You have little or no help. The food and drug industrial complex is so not on your side. They say they are but they are not. The government is a pusher. They will not help. That leaves it up to you and I. Be strong! Stand up to the enemy! This is sometimes your kid! Be strong! Stand up and take control. With a little extra effort you can safe your son and your daughter.

We need to do something. Our kid’s health is pathetic. Just sayin’….


  1. In my opinion, Parents are responsible to teach their children the proper things to eat, and see to it that they are physically active. I see too many parents letting their children choose whatever they want to eat... WHAT?? They always choose crap! If people would be PARENTS to their children, and stop trying to be FRIENDS with their children, make them eat properly, and get them off the coach and outside, there would be a lot fewer fat kids.

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