I was walking out of the grocery store last week and was watching a woman and her two children walk to their car. Both children were about 7 or 8 years old, and both looked to weigh at least 100 pounds if not more. The mom was opening two cans of soda and was handing one to each of them. My initial internal response was to run and tackle her before the hand off could happen. Unfortunately, that is socially unacceptable and so the overweight children began to drink soda and I felt sad as I watched a mom unknowingly poison her own children.
The percentage of children ages 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
Did you know that in the last 2 decades, type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes) has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency. About 215,000 people younger than 20 years had diabetes in the United States in 2010. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States. Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
It is no coincidence that these two facts are linked. The foods that are being marketed to children, and busy families, are stripped of nutritional value and packed with preservatives - to extend shelf life, and chemicals, and genetically altered sugar (which turns into fat) - which you know as High Fructose Corn Syrup.
When we as busy parents aren't aware of what we don't know, we often times feed our children foods that are doing them more harm than good.
For instance, let's look at hot dogs. Did you know that nitrite additives in hot dogs form carcinogens (a cancer causing substance)? A study done in Los Angeles county tells us that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A study done in Denver shows that children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer. This fact alone makes me want to put a billboard in front of every elementary school on earth!
As parents, we always want to safeguard our children's health, but we may not always know the best way to do it. A great place to start is to rethink those hot dogs and sodas. Instead of soda, offer your children water. The first couple of times you'll probably get a nose turned up at you, but thirsty children really will drink water. It's a win/win -- you feel good because you know you're giving them something their body really needs (our bodies are made up of more than 70% water and every one of our organs needs it!), and they feel better because they don't have to endure a sugar rush which then always leads to a sugar crash!
Hot dog diversions may be an easier sell! Next time you're planning a quick dinner, skip the hot dogs and go to chicken. You can make a great meal out of grilled chicken (or baked, or in the skillet) on a whole wheat bun, sweet potatoe chips and apple slices. Voila!