Overfeeding Children - An Epidemic
The instant information era has affording humanity with all the information they can gather from any place accessible to any degree on Earth and in the Universe. Researchers and explorers are now looking for ways to reach the most inaccessible populations and places, discovering new peoples and data no one expected to exist. We simply never know what may turn up.
One such surprise in recent years has been the phenomenon of parents and guardians that overfeed their children. Scattered instances of this trend had been broadcast in weekly news magazines that no one knew whether to consider seriously, and then on broadcast and cable TV. The Maury Povich Show in the mid-2000s featured several families in which the children were grossly overfeed and the grossly obese.
One 3-year-old on the show weighed 117 pounds, while a 5-year-old weighed 250 pounds. One child began eating in bed as soon as he awakened and ate all day. His only break was a 1-block walk with his parents at lunchtime to a nearby pizzeria, when he consumed an extra large pizza with many toppings by himself. After the walk home, be once again began eating and continued to eat until bedtime. This was described by the parents as a normal day.
This information was stunning, With childhood poverty, starvation, and malnutrition growing in parts of America, overfeeding is occurring in which toddlers and elementary school children are fed enough to sustain 2-3 people or more daily. Astonishingly, some parents see the phenomenon as funny and other parents believe that their children are better than other people specifically because they can eat more. Still other parents believe it is "normal" eating and are unconcerned.
Weight Loss Diets in Children Are An Emergency
Studying and working in public health, I could understand how and why baby bottle tooth decay happened and how malnutrition through feeding children the cheapest and processed foods occurred, but overfeeding was hard to understand.
I'd had adult clients seeking help that had worked themselves up to eating two full dinners 7 days a week in addition to all breakfasts and lunches, plus snacks. However, they had worked up to this point, Some overfed children are overfed beginning immediately when they begin solid foods. Toddlers of 2 years old weigh over 100 pounds and can barely walk. Some overfeeding parents believe the phenomenon is funny. Some doctors feel that it is child abuse.
Under average USDA nutrition recommendations for children by age, a child would usually not need a weight loss diet. In the case of overfeeding, reverting to USDA or physician-recommended eating can result in average weight over time. If this proves unsatisfactory, then a physician or lcoal health department can be consulted. Obesity can lead to death at any age, including in toddlers, and it has done so.
MERCK identifies Feedling Problems in infancy, specifically Overfeeding, as
"the provision of more nutrition than a child needs for healthy growth. Overfeeding occurs when children are automatically fed as a response to crying, when they are given a bottle as a distraction or activity, or when they are allowed to keep a bottle with them at all times. Overfeeding also occurs when parents reward good behavior with food or expect children to finish their food even if they are not hungry." Reference: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec23/ch267/ch267d.html
Overfeeding directly results in spitting up and diarrhea in infants. If ongoing, it can cause obesity. Early overfeeding can significantly affect the chances of adult obesity.
"Pre- and neonatal overfeeding programmes a permanent obesity disposition and accompanying diabetic and cardiovascular disorders, by unknown mechanisms....Pre- and neonatal overfeeding programmes a permanent obesity disposition and accompanying diabetic and cardiovascular disorders, by unknown mechanisms." Andreas Plagemann, Thomas Harder, Matthias Brunn, et.al. "Hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin promoter methylation becomes altered by early overfeeding: an epigenetic model of obesity and the metabolic syndrome." October 15, 2009 The Journal of Physiology, 587, 4963-4976.
Overfeeding can in itself be abusive, but can also be used as part of an entire, larger pattern of abusiveness toward children. One family in my experience illustrates this well. The mother had been abusing the oldest child, an 7-year-old girl, sexually, physically, and emotionally. In addition, she forced the child to eat the same foods in the same qualities as the father. The mother used the resultant weight gains as ammunition for screaming at the child that not only was she fat, but also that obesity was her own fault. The overfeeding resulted in heartburn, vomiting, and constipation as well as additional emotional trauma. When overfeeding was removed from the mother's arsenal of abuse by her husband, she resorted to reasonable meals during the week, but refusal to feed the child on weekends except for toast and coffee on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Requests for other meals were met with anger and shouting. This was a perfect setup for an eating disorder, which did indeed emerge later in the life of the client.
Largest Child Make Progress
The severely obese children featured on The Maury Povich Show did not go unaided. The largest of these kids, a 5-year-old girl of at least 250 pounds, received physical therapy as well as dietary and nutritional guidance from professionals. At the same time, she was still able to enjoy some of her favorite foods.
While some viewers feel that these types of television broadcasts simply exploit the children involved, it is also true that the children received help they vitally needed.
In 2010, American children are obese in larger percentages than in previous decades. In my martial arts classes in the 2000s, children applying for classes were often too big to fit the uniforms, which were ample in size for the height ranges they covered. One such child waited and applied at age 19 to a college karate class, but found that no adult-sized uniform made by any American manufacturer was large enough - this included manufacturers of larger uniforms for the obese.
Despite all of this, public and private school breakfast and lunch programs, public health education initiatives, summer food programs for youth, and a wide range of USDA, Canadian, and several other Food Pyramid Guides for ethnic populations and people concerned with diabetes, as well as concerned parents and guardians are making the effort to turn the tide of fat.
The various WalMart stores in our city fill their women's clothing departments with thye styles and sizes of outwear, street clothes, and foundation garments that are most likely to be used by the nearest residents. The WalMart in one quadrant of the city contains Junior/Misses and Women's clothing departments full of the largest Plus Sizes. It is difficult to find average sizes in these departments.
In the 1970s, this same city was in an uproar of excitement when the new ladies' clothing store 5-7-9 came to town. It specialized in sizes 000 to 9 and carried nothing larger and was a great success.The 5-7-9 clothing chain left the city in the 1980s as the population became fatter overall - there was a significant change in eating patterns with the quick rise of fast food and convenience stores. One church school even installed a McDonald's restaurant inside its cafeteria for a few years. High schools began allowing students to leave campus to eat at fast food restaurants.
If much of the obesity in this city and the nation is the result of childhood overeating or of adult overeating of inappropriate foods in overly high abundance, coupled with the lack of exercise, then the problem can begin to be be attacked with a foundation of accurate education, guidance, and a willingness to eat healthier foods in healthier portion sizes as one accepts the responsibility and fun of exercise.
Related Link: Fat Burning Exercise.