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Old 01-20-2013, 10:59 AM   #141
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Re: Let's talk childhood obesity....

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Those things are all true, but it still doesn't absolve the parents of being solely responsible for the welfare of their children. And if circumstances are so dire that produce is not attainable, then why would any reasonable person have children and put them in the same pathetic circumstances? You can't bring children into a dire situation and then blame the government that your kids are in a dire situation.
I blame the government for saying that they will provide lower income students with free, nutritious breakfasts and lunches and then bowing to corporate interests and providing them with crap instead. The USDA is completely in the hands of agribusinessness and Big Food. Changes to standards have been passed again and again, only to be blocked by industry lobbyists and the congresspeople in their pockets. The school lunch reforms that Obama passed would have radically improved the school lunch program, but corporate interests blocked all of its most important provisions.

And maybe there's some fantasy world where no one ever gets pregnant accidentally, or raped, or leaves an abusive situation and ends up in poverty, or gets fired from their job, or ends up having to take care of their three grandkids...but the reality is that these children already exist. While the government need not do all the legwork of getting those children access to healthy foods, it would be helpful if the government took down all the barriers they themselves have erected to PREVENT those kids from getting healthy foods.

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Old 01-20-2013, 11:09 AM   #142
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Re: Let's talk childhood obesity....

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I wonder if eating for children is a very social thing.

Three observations that make me think that:
1) My daughter, who behaves like your son, always eats the snacks at pre-school.
2) She eats better on the weekends when her older brother and sister are here.
3) A woman at my dd's pre-school has 7 children. 4 of them adopted. The latest adopted dd is the same age as mine with the same eating habits. She tells me that this girl would not eat this and that until after the 2nd meal in their house. She would refuse food and the other kids would jump in with "can I have her brocoli". The next time she said she didn't like food, the other kids called dibs on it and she said: "It's okay, I'll eat it." That was the end of the picky eating. We joke that I should leave my dd at her house for a week!
It absolutely is! That same DS I spoke about earlier, who doesn't eat any solid food and eats the bare minimum of yogurt willingly, has been in feeding therapy for over two years with little progress. In October, he was included in a group therapy with a couple other boys his same age with similar (though markedly less severe) eating problems. I have seen more improvement with him in a matter of two months than I saw in the two years previously one-on-one with a therapist. There is most definitely a social aspect to eating that can't be ignored. If everyone in your family is enjoying a plate of delicious and healthy food, meal after meal, day after day, it just becomes the *in thing* to do. The challenge is when the kids are out in the world, like my DD who is in Pre-K, and they are given fruit snacks and chocolate milk as their snack. It's hard to try to explain to a 4yr old why those yummy things aren't the best choice, but I can try and make the choices at home healthy ones and explain the difference so that someday when I'm not there to make her dinner she will still be eating those carrots and blueberries.

I grew up with a single mom. She worked her butt off to provide for us, but she was gone a lot and we fended for ourselves for most meals. I never really learned to cook and I took great joy in Spaghettios and potato chips. These things are still like crack to me, much as I hate to admit it, but I am trying my darndest to correct those bad habits and retrain myself as I teach my children. We ALL deserve to be eating healthy. Now, I just need to get my DH on board...
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Old 01-20-2013, 01:03 PM   #143
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Re: Let's talk childhood obesity....

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I blame the government for saying that they will provide lower income students with free, nutritious breakfasts and lunches and then bowing to corporate interests and providing them with crap instead. The USDA is completely in the hands of agribusinessness and Big Food. Changes to standards have been passed again and again, only to be blocked by industry lobbyists and the congresspeople in their pockets. The school lunch reforms that Obama passed would have radically improved the school lunch program, but corporate interests blocked all of its most important provisions.

And maybe there's some fantasy world where no one ever gets pregnant accidentally, or raped, or leaves an abusive situation and ends up in poverty, or gets fired from their job, or ends up having to take care of their three grandkids...but the reality is that these children already exist. While the government need not do all the legwork of getting those children access to healthy foods, it would be helpful if the government took down all the barriers they themselves have erected to PREVENT those kids from getting healthy foods.
I was thinking of food deserts and land-of-only-bodegas yesterday while re-reading this thread (baby's getting molars, lots of cuddling in the rocking chair at night and reading!) and I lived in NYC close to a bunch of bodegas but quite a walk from the supermarket. I constantly internally whined about not having the market close. But, I went on Saturdays. I walked many, many blocks to get there and lugged it all home. It was probably incredible exercise. That said, I cannot fault the government for not having a supermarket near me and only bodegas. For one, I chose to live there. For two, the government structure does not permit the government to force a company to open a place of business there, so how could they rectify it?

With the school lunches, it's a mess, I totally agree. There is a dire tax situation and generally no money to enhance these meals. And there are laws and no doubt quite a bit of hoops that govern how these meals are made. But at home, I just don't buy that it's cheaper to purchase frozen nuggets than it is to make my own. Yes, it may be factory-farmed chicken, but it's significantly cheaper to cut up pieces of chicken, dip them in an egg, and then bread crumbs. Bake at 350. I know this because when I was poor and in college and really wanting the ease of frozen chicken nuggets I couldn't afford them, it was the financially responsible thing to put in the effort to make my own.

As an aside, I am finding it incredibly interesting that some of the same posters here are blaming the government (not who I quoted, earlier in the thread) yet some of these same people in other threads are advocating for smaller government and more personal responsibility. Just not with food?
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Old 01-20-2013, 01:08 PM   #144
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As an aside, I am finding it incredibly interesting that some of the same posters here are blaming the government (not who I quoted, earlier in the thread) yet some of these same people in other threads are advocating for smaller government and more personal responsibility. Just not with food?
IMO the problem with the government is their food subsidies. Ending those goes along with smaller government in my mind.

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Old 01-20-2013, 02:27 PM   #145
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Re: Let's talk childhood obesity....

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I agree that, in large part, the parents are 100% at fault. They buy swiss cake rolls instead of apples, they buy potato chips as a 'snack' rather than celery. It's 100% their fault that their kids are fat, but it doesn't change the fact that a jumbo bag of potato chips is 99 cents and will last for weeks and weeks. A bag of carrots is $2.50 (at least here) and lasts a week or so before it spoils. If you have $50 a week to feed your family on you're going to go for what is filling and what costs less. White bread, enriched pasta, potato chips...all 100% unhealthy, but also cheap and filling and easy.

I don't know about your kids but if allowed mine will polish off a jumbo bag of chips in one day. A bag of carrots lasts longer. I only buy chips when I am craving them so maybe once every couple of months. Aldis carrots cost us .50 cents a lb.

I am wondering though if those who claim junk food I'd cheeper are comparing organic Veges with non organic junk food. This to me isn't a valid comparison. No matter which store I go to even our higher priced potatoes(except organic) are still cheaper than a lb of chips.
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Old 01-20-2013, 02:32 PM   #146
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Re: Let's talk childhood obesity....

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I was thinking of food deserts and land-of-only-bodegas yesterday while re-reading this thread (baby's getting molars, lots of cuddling in the rocking chair at night and reading!) and I lived in NYC close to a bunch of bodegas but quite a walk from the supermarket. I constantly internally whined about not having the market close. But, I went on Saturdays. I walked many, many blocks to get there and lugged it all home. It was probably incredible exercise. That said, I cannot fault the government for not having a supermarket near me and only bodegas. For one, I chose to live there. For two, the government structure does not permit the government to force a company to open a place of business there, so how could they rectify it?
To clarify, I wasn't suggesting that government step in and build supermarkets or something like that. My point was that "food deserts" exist, in part, because it so much more profitable for small stores to sell things like Coke and Fritos and candy (i.e., corn and corn and corn) at high markups because government subsidies artificially deflate the cost of manufacturing those kinds of foods. Families in food deserts often turn to fast food because the artificially-deflated price of factory-farmed meat may make it a more economically feasible option than the time/money involved in loading the whole family onto public transportation to shop. (As for "choosing to live there," many low-income, urban families live in public housing and cannot choose where they live or afford to move.)

Yeah, that inner-city mom should take personal responsibility and pay $2.25 each way for herself and and $2.25 each way for each of her three kids to get on the subway on her one day off to go to the farmer's market across town instead of just getting what's cheap at the corner bodega--if she can afford all that money for transportation, of course. She should take time from work--hope she doesn't get fired--to investigate her school lunch program and when she finds it's nutritionally lacking, she should send her kids with lunch from home instead--if she can afford it, of course, and still be able to pay her rent). But I think that mom might also be well-served if we ended the programs that ensure that cheap, crappy food is easily available to everyone and instead found ways to make healthier food available to everyone. People make a lot of terrible, uninformed, and lazy choices. I can't argue with that. But I also think the deck is stacked, and the imbalance is particularly acute among the populations that are least likely to have the time, money, and resources to combat the problems.

I don't think we should say "the government is to blame for obesity and therefore we're all collectively off the hook" but I also think it's naive to pretend that the other social and political factors don't contribute to the obesity crisis. Farm subsidies change the food landscape, radically. The school lunch program dumps unhealthy food into children and trains their palates to like bland, greasy, fatty, sugary foods. I think it's naive to think that parents and children are not susceptible to the constant assault of food advertising. I think it's naive to think that every parent has the time and resources to parse the health claims printed in big letters on every package of cereal. I think it's naive to think that it's simple for everyone to resist the biological impulses to consume fat and sugar, when fat and sugar are exceedingly cheap and omnipresent.

We eat a reasonably clean diet, but I'm not blind to how much time and money it costs us to do that and how much research it takes to cut through all the marketing bs. I think many parents genuinely think they are doing the "right" thing when they choose juice over soda, or feed their babies processed rice cereal, or choose the cereal that says "whole grains" not realizing that it's still chock-full of sugar. I think they think they are doing the "right" thing when they take advantage of the free breakfast program at their local school or let their kids eat the school lunch.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:10 PM   #147
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I've been following this thread but haven't had time to write out my thoughts. I NYCVeg right now though. We live in an urban food desert (by choice), but unlike many of our neighbors, we have our own transportation to get to any grocery store we want. We also have Internet access so that I can research choices. I also have cookbooks and the Internet to figure out new recipes and how to cook the veggies I can get at the store. The resources I have available to me because of my socio-economic status far surpass those available to most of my neighbors unfortunately. They are not solely to blame for their current state, nor are they solely to blame for their children's health status.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:29 PM   #148
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Re: Let's talk childhood obesity....

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Go backward 50 years. No obesity epidemic yet. The average American ate plenty of fatty meats, canned veggies & fruit, and white bread. Look at a cookbook from 1950 or so - the food people were eating did not resemble what modern nutritionists would call a healthy diet. Not as bad as some people today, but far from ideal. But they ate smaller portions than we do now, and moved around a lot more.
I TOTALLY agree. Being overweight is not complicated for 99% of people. You are eating too much food for the amount your body is moving. Change one and your body will eventually change.

You can be overweight on a perfectly healthy diet if you eat too much of it.

I'm also of the 'they won't starve' camp with kids. My youngest is 3 and is ridiculous right now. Her picky requirements change day to day but that doesn't mean I'm serving hot dogs every day.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:10 PM   #149
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Also, about the organic vs regular-- I have heard that in general our vegetables don't have the same nutrient levels from years ago because our soil has been depleted of it's nutrients.
Certainly. It depends on how long that land has been farmed and then how it was farmed.

If I went out and bought some empty land that had been left natural and plowed it and started organic farming, there'd be a huge difference just from the soil.

So not all farms are equal, for sure. Not that I advocate clearing more land for farms.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:29 PM   #150
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In a way, I think it's interesting the things that are currently demonized - baby food, cereals and the government.

At one point, all 3 of those things filled very important niches for nutrition. As posted earlier, purees came when formula fed babies NEEDED the nutrients and couldn't eat more than a liquid. Sure, it's unnecessary now and that's great, but the company filled a great need at one point.

And the school lunches started back during WWII, I think, when children were not getting what they needed. Now it's not nutritionally as great, but the program still has value for a ton of families, even though it could be improved.

I know great reform is needed, but just felt a need to point out that all these ventures were not started without a great need.
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