You may have noticed that "personal responsibility" is a common theme with the Center for Consumer Freedom. But in the debate over childhood obesity, personal responsiblity has a flip side: parental responsibility. For kids who aren’t old enough to buy or prepare their own food, it’s up to their parents – and no one else – to decide what’s best. Now a growing number of juvenile obesity experts are saying something interesting: Let’s try to keep it that way.
As food blogger Baylen Linnekin wrote in Reason magazine last week, soda and snack bans aren’t the best recipe for curbing child obesity rates:
In some alternate universe, one that actually assigns blame to deserving people, it might be your fault, not theirs. Maybe it is your fault your kids are fat, since you feed them. Maybe the food that parents supply to their kids—and demand restaurants feed their kids—is making the kids fat. Which means parents need to do a better job of making sure their own kids eat healthy, and get some exercise.
A few weeks ago, we looked at an Annals of Internal Medicine study which found that the average calories-per-serving in our home cooked meals have increased 63 percent over the last 70 years. Even though the study only tracked 18 recipes, its authors brought up a good point about the bigger picture in the obesity debate: Home cooking is behind much of the increases in our caloric intake.
Since people generally eat two out of three meals at home, the majority of what kids eat is prepared by mom and dad. Weight gain works the same way for kids as it does for their parents: too many calories "in" and not enough calories "out." And parents also have a say in how much exercise their kids are getting.
As a 2005 study in the British journal The Lancet showed, “the drastic decline in habitual activity during adolescence might be a major factor in the doubling of the rate of obesity development in the USA in the past two decades, since no concomitant increase in energy intake was apparent.”
In other words, the solution to the so-called obesity epidemic could be as simple as having mom and dad kick the kids outside for an after-dinner run around the block.
Interestingly, that Annals of Internal Medicine study’s author, Brian Wansink (former executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion) has come to the same conclusion: “If we believe it’s a restaurant that’s made our kids fat, we’re not going to change.”
Who would’ve thought that blaming others amounts to kindergarten tactics?