Our Overweight Children

Our Overweight Children: What Parents, Schools, and Communities Can Do to Control the Fatness Epidemic

SHARRON DALTON
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 292
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnh7t
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  • Book Info
    Our Overweight Children
    Book Description:

    The United States is facing a health crisis of epidemic proportions: children are gaining weight younger and faster than ever before. With the prospect of becoming the most obese generation of adults in history, they are already turning up with an alarming assortment of "grown-up" maladies, from type 2 diabetes to high blood pressure. This book takes a clear-eyed look at what's behind the statistics and diagnoses, and what can be done about the major health crisis among American children. Sharron Dalton begins with the basics: what obesity is, what causes it, and why it matters. Integrating information from scientific and popular sources, she reviews past remedies and their results and compares specific strategies and programs for children. When a third of our children are overweight or likely to become so, it's everyone's problem-and this book argues for a united approach, promoting the role of parents, health professionals, and school and community leaders. For each group, Dalton outlines actions to combat the epidemic. She suggests ways for parents to respond to their children in interactions centered on food and physical activities. And she illuminates a number of issues raised by childhood obesity, from the pain of fat discrimination to the economic, social, and political ramifications of an epidemic of obesity among the young. At once authoritative and nontechnical, no-nonsense and compassionate,Our Overweight Childrenis a clear call to action-a prescription for treating the most dire problem threatening our children's health and our nation's future.Our Overweight Childrenincludes * A discussion of what obesity is, what causes it, and why it matters * A review of various remedies and their results * A comparison of specific strategies and programs for children * A plan for parents, health professionals, and school and community leaders to work together to confront childhood obesity

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93925-7
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[x])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [xi]-[xii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: OUR OVERWEIGHT KIDS
    (pp. 1-10)

    FOR MILLIONS OF SCHOOL-AGE American children, a typical weekday goes something like this.

    For breakfast kids serve themselves chocolaty frosted cereal from a box that features a cartoon character. Often there’s no time to eat breakfast at home, so they grab prepackaged snacks to eat in the car. One parent might get out sweetened juice drinks and “Lunchable” processed meals for them to eat at school or say, “Here’s money for lunch—and snacks.”

    At school they shun the cafeteria’s tasteless fare. Students flock to hallway vending machines, or to nearby fast-food outlets, and load up on “big grab” chips,...

  4. ONE HOW WE MEET A GROWING EPIDEMIC

    • 1 COMING TO TERMS
      (pp. 13-27)

      HOW DO WE, as parents and as health professionals, decide if a child is seriously overweight? Children on the playground need only a couple of minutes to spot a fat kid. If everyone is a self-appointed expert when it comes to judging body size and shape, obesity should be easy to recognize and diagnose. It’s simple, right?

      In fact, diagnosing a child as clinically obese is quite complex. Children grow at very different rates, and growth is the priority. No doctor or parent wants the mention of a “weight problem” to backfire and lead to poor nutrition, which could hurt...

    • 2 GAUGING OBESITY’S TOLL
      (pp. 28-42)

      EQUIPPED WITH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING of how to diagnose children as overweight, we can look more closely at who they are. This chapter explains which children are most overweight and consequently most at risk for obesity’s physical and psychological consequences. It then focuses on the weight-related maladies that cause suffering.

      A growing number of overweight youth experience health problems that are likely to carry over into adulthood. As this century progresses, that number is set to climb higher, for as the statistics that follow here show, kids are not only getting fatter; they aregetting fatter faster.The number of...

  5. TWO WHY KIDS ARE GETTING FATTER

    • 3 FAMILY MATTERS
      (pp. 45-60)

      “OBESE,” FROM THE LATIN WORD “obesus,” means “grown fat by eating.” The term’s origin clearly and correctly suggests that overeating is a major cause of the obesity epidemic. Teaching overweight children to eat less therefore is essential. But modifying behavior is no simple task, and eating too much is not the sole cause of obesity. Other factors play a role and must be well understood in order to reverse the epidemic and produce a healthier generation of children.

      Comments I heard at a parent-teacher school board meeting in an innercity New York district shed light on some of these less...

    • 4 AT HOME
      (pp. 61-91)

      IN 1953 THE PSYCHIATRIST Hilde Bruch—the “mother” of our current understanding about overeating and eating disorders—said that to understand obese children, we need to remember that each of them accumulated their extra weight “while living in a family that, wittingly or unwittingly, encouraged overeating and inactivity.”¹ A half century later, with obesity at epidemic levels, researchers are saying roughly the same thing: “Behaviors that contributed to the increase in overweight prevalence for adults may be transmitted within the family setting and affect the weight status of children.”²

      I agree that family behaviors and interactions undoubtedly contribute greatly to...

    • 5 BEYOND THE HOME
      (pp. 92-114)

      WHEN SEVERAL OVERWEIGHT TEENAGERS from New York sued McDonald’s, blaming the fast-food giant for their obesity and weightrelated medical conditions, their case provided ample fodder in the debate over personal responsibility versus society’s responsibility for causing and curbing fatness. The plaintiffs in the suit included a teenage girl—age nineteen, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 270 pounds—who said she ate a McMuffin for breakfast and a Big Mac meal with apple pie for dinner almost daily. Another plaintiff, a fifteen-year-old boy, said he grew to 400 pounds and developed diabetes because he had eaten McDonald’s food every day since...

  6. THREE HOW WE CAN FIGHT THE EPIDEMIC

    • 6 NURTURING HEALTHY AND ACTIVE LIFESTYLES
      (pp. 117-145)

      ONE QUESTION FROM TWENTY YEARS AGO haunts my memory. I was leading a workshop with health professionals representing a variety of agencies that served parents and children. The topic was childhood obesity. Most of the participants were mothers and grandmothers; about half were African American and Hispanic; the majority worked in government and health-care programs, as administrators or directly with patients; many were in minority or low-income communities. The objectives of the workshop were ones this book shares: to understand obesity’s causes and to explore and suggest appropriate, effective remedies.

      I showed a video clip from a documentary dramatization of...

    • 7 REACHING AND KEEPING A HEALTHY WEIGHT
      (pp. 146-176)

      ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD NATHANIEL ROBBINS, the protagonist in Robert Kimmel Smith’s novelJelly Belly,carries 109 pounds on his 4-foot-8-inch frame. “Blimpie,” “Tubby,” “Piggy,” and “Lard-Butt” are some of the nicknames he also carries around. As the excerpt below illustrates, this boy is emotionally scarred and physically uncomfortable, not only from being fat but also from trying to lose weight:

      Right now there are probably three million kids reading this and laughing at me. I mean, you’re probably saying, “Big deal—the kid misses one meal of spaghetti and a piece of blueberry pie and he runs upstairs and cries his head...

    • 8 SLOWING THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF FAT DISCRIMINATION
      (pp. 177-199)

      ON THE WAY HOME from a family reunion in an isolated town in the western Rockies, I thought about a cousin’s granddaughter—a bright, pudgy ten-year-old who preferred to talk with adults rather than play with other kids. Her parents were planning home schooling because she was unhappy among peers. She told me about a classmate who was fat and teased for hiding candy in his desk; it was clear that she related closely to him. Her reading interests were broad and already at a very advanced level, so I decided to shop for a book she might appreciate.

      Back...

    • 9 MOBILIZING TO HELP OUR OVERWEIGHT CHILDREN
      (pp. 200-238)

      SOME MIGHT ARGUE that the solution to the childhood obesity epidemic is not rocket science. It boils down to commonsense rules: “Go out and play.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Come home for dinner.”

      Yes, we should follow that old-fashioned advice, but the rise in overweight and obesity and the epidemic’s related costs impel us to do much more. Children and their families cannot alone combat the forces that propel the growing rate of childhood obesity; the problem—and the remedies—reach far beyond the home.

      That point was made abundantly clear at the national nutrition summit held in May 2000.¹ “Communities...

  7. APPENDIX ONE. BODY–MASS INDEX BY HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
    (pp. 239-240)
  8. APPENDIX TWO. BODY–MASS INDEX BY AGE
    (pp. 241-242)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 243-272)
  10. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 273-276)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 277-292)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)