Sunday, February 10, 2008

obesity in children

Just finished reading an article that even an optimist like me can't find too many things good to say about. It reviews the literature on the role of the mother in a child's eating and the role of the child in eating and then the combination of the two. You can pretty much guess how it turned out. If it was all the mom, she could change, maybe. If it was all the kid, the kid could change or be changed. If it was all genetic, we're getting there. If it was all psychological, well...but it's all those things and more. It's the mom, it's the kid, it's the two of them together, it's the genes and the environment and whether the mother was overweight and whether they're poor or of low socioeconomic status. It's the grandma, surprise, and where she came from and whether she had plenty of food or not enough. It's the culture, it's where you grow up and the sizes of the kids around you. It's whether your kid tends to eat in the absence of hunger, something they've coined EAH, which I find amusing in our world of 3 and 4 letter confusion. I have EAH. Please forgive my obesity. I can't help it. I really do. I eat because it's time to eat more than because I'm hungry. I eat because there's food there to eat, often without regard to whether or not I'm hungry. My wife on the other hand forgets to eat. What's that? NEPH? Not eating in the presence of hunger? Maybe ADD of hunger? I just didn't pay attention to my hunger. That's never happened to me. 
My advice for parents for many years, learned from experts and observation, is that if you have healthy food around the house, present it at regular times and in measured quantities (another paper I just read says that kids don't want more of a snack if it's presented in a small quantity and they can't see the whole sack of cookies, etc. ) and don't get too wrapped up in whether or not your child ate or didn't eat, you will be less likely to have an overweight child. Or an underweight child. Detach from your child's eating except as it is your job to provide it. There are two good articles to read: one from Contemporary Pediatrics on "Mother Knows Best", vol. 25, no. 1, and one from Wondertime magazine, 3/08, on "natural selection", and no, it's not by Charles Darwin, it's by Catherine Newman. The "heady" one from Contemporary Peds is the more depressing of the two, basically coming to the conclusion that it's all a crapshoot and we have no answers for you, and the other is very funny and well-written and I think speaks to most moms who either are naturally relaxed and have some common sense and faith or who take their xanax regularly, saying that you know what's healthy and just because it's organic doesn't mean you can eat more of it and don't fall prey to the "green" advertising ploys out there that make you think there's a healthy ice cream or potato chip! Good reading. 
These, and many other, articles continue to make me aware that the more we know the less we understand, and I go back to Genesis where the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the one we weren't supposed to take a bite of, but who in today's world wouldn't have done what Eve did way back then? I know I would have, at least if I'd gotten my lazy overweight butt over to it and the fruit wasn't too high up or too hard to pick or clean or cook or...

1 comment:

deleise said...

Good stuff. This topic is often on my mind. I want so desperately for my kids to continue to be normal eaters and not have to struggle. I would have taken the apple too. And I would have found some brown sugar and butter and made caramel for it.