We’re not blowing smoke when we warn people that the panic over rising obesity rates is bound to have some adverse unintended consequences on the nation’s health. Demonizing every extra pound Americans carry around — as obesity scaremongers have been doing in earnest for the last decade — has and will encourage some incredibly unhealthy behaviors. Case in point: An increasingly large number of parents are dangerously restricting their kids’ food and calorie intake in hopes of warding off obesity. The problem is that kids are, well, kids — more than any other age group they need a steady stream of vitamins and nutrients (yes, including fat) to stay healthy. In general, diets are likely to do them more harm than good.
Fortunately, the scientific establishment has become increasingly aware of the dangers posed to kids by their food-phobic parents. In the last month we’ve seen a flurry of high-profile studies warning moms and dads not to go overboard with the calorie restrictions. As the London Times reports today:
Parents’ paranoia about the thickening girths of the Play-Station generation has reached fever pitch… but experts are concerned that parents’ attempts to steer children on to a virtuous dietary path can often backfire … By cutting out good fats — such as olive oil and sunflower oil — parents are effectively putting their child’s natural development in jeopardy… There are also other, less obvious, risks of limiting fat intake. As unlikely as it seems, it could eventually make children fatter than those who gorge on calorie-dense snacks.