We’re not feeding and watering our kids properly!

by Denis Faye - The Nutrition Nerd | October 4, 2010

There’s been a pile-up lately of studies determining why the youth of today are obese and otherwise unhealthy, so I figured I’d wipe the sheen off your Monday and throw a few of ’em out there.

Eat – According to the National Cancer Institute, 40% of the calories our kids consume are empty calories. This ABC report list these foods as the main problems:

Sugary fruit drinks
Grain desserts, such as cake, cookies and donuts
Dairy desserts such as ice cream
Whole milk, which is far fattier than skim.

Honestly, I like to say my kid doesn’t eat this junk, but sadly, that’s not the case. I’m more nutritionally fascist than most parents, but I’m clearly not the sharpest dumbbell on the weight rack because she constantly manages to hornswoggle me. One time, she went a whole day eating nothing but salami, bread, and cheese – and I don’t even keep salami in the house! Apparently, she actually caused processed meat to exist in my apartment purely through force of will.

Sleep – A study in the September issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, which I’m sure you’ve all read by now, shows that a lack of sleep in children can lead to obesity.

The researchers also found that daytime naps are not an adequate substitute for lost nighttime sleep in terms of preventing obesity.

The study included 1,930 U.S. children, ages 1 month to 13 years, who were divided into two groups — younger (ages 1 month to 59 months) and older (ages 5 to 13 years). Data on the children was collected at the start of the study (baseline) in 1997 and again in 2002 (follow-up).

At the follow-up, 33% of the younger children and 36% of the older children were overweight or obese. Among the younger children, lack of sufficient nighttime sleep at baseline was associated with increased risk for later overweight or obesity.

Again, my daughter doesn’t get enough sleep either, no matter when her bedtime is, but I don’t know what to do about, short of using my great grandmother’s trick of feeding her a “sleeping elixir” to “encourage” slumber. But I hear that’s frowned upon in some circles, considering Nana’s elixir was 60 proof.

Drink – This month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – which I read immediately after I finish the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine – features a study showing American kids don’t drink enough water.

Researchers analyzed the total water intake of 3,978 children aged 2 to 19 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006. Children ages 2 through 5 drank 1.4 liters of water per day, while children aged 6 to 11 drank 1.6 liters. The amount of water rose to 2.4 liters among adolescents aged 12 to 19, the study showed. On average, adolescents aged 2 to 19 drank 1.9 liters of water per day.

Again, it’s easy to be high falootin’ about these numbers, but it can be a challenge. You can lead a kid to water, but you can’t make her drink – although I hear Dick Cheney was very good at keeping his kids hydrated. I guess he had some system by which he got them all the water they needed AND got them to confess whether they snuck out the night before. Hell of a dad, that Cheney.

I, conversely, appear not to be doing such a bang-up job, given my daughter lacks 3 of the 5 basic human needs. Now if I just deny her shelter and oxygen, I’d have a straight flush. Fortunately, she’s an active little kid, so obesity isn’t an issue. Furthermore, I haven’t completely given up the fight. If I could just figure out who her secret processed meat source is, I might be able to turn the tide…


4 thoughts on “We’re not feeding and watering our kids properly!

  1. screwdestiny

    Who the hell even drinks whole milk? I mean, really? 2% and lower is where it’s at…

    And yeah, considering they don’t even offer water as an option at school during lunch, it’s easy to see why kids don’t get enough.

  2. Mme Wong

    The only people for whom whole milk is appropriate are toddlers (and only toddlers with no weight issues). But it stops there. I’ll have to agree with Tom, the soda issue is scarier for me, as well as a daily consumption of desserts.


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